Stocking Your Home Bar: Just the Right Tools

Stocking Your Home Bar: Just the Right Tools

When you’re building a home bar, you’re going to want more than just the right bottles, brands and mixers. You’re going to strut your mad mixology skills at the next get together, you’ll need the right tools, too.

But remember, just as you can choose the $15 bottle of vodka or jump up to the $40 option, you can style your bar tools for your budget. Most of the items we’re recommending here come at different price points and can be found at places you already shop.

Introduction

When you’re building a home bar, you’re going to want more than just the right bottles, brands and mixers. You’re going to strut your mad mixology skills at the next get together, you’ll need the right tools, too.

But remember, just as you can choose the $15 bottle of vodka or jump up to the $40 option, you can style your bar tools for your budget. Most of the items we’re recommending here come at different price points and can be found at places you already shop.

Here’s a Pro Tip

Some of the most bangin’ barware can be found at the lowest prices on sites like eBay and Etsy. Not only are the prices low, but given the vintage origins of that barware, you’re more likely to find something no one else has. How about a killer dancing penguin ice bucket? Or maybe a silver rocket-shaped cocktail shaker to give your home bar some vintage art-deco swagger? Explore and have fun with it.

Mixing a drink
The Bare Minimum

Bottle Opener

‘Nuff said. Probably best to get a clean, simple metal option to replace the novelty opener you picked up free on Spring Break and kept on your keychain in college.

Corkscrew

If you ever waited tables, go for the simple kind. If not, easier models have come way down in price and may save some date-night embarrassment.

Paring Knife

You’ll want a good one, That means the kind with a guard that slips over the blade. No cheating and buying something generic from your local supermarket!

Cutting Board

It doesn’t have to be wood, but it should be substantial, something that won’t fly off the counter when you’re trying to wedge a lemon.

Shot Glasses

A little novelty is OK here. This is worth another trip to Ebay or Etsy to show off some personality. You can even keep a fun mixedn assortment around for those evenings when you and your peeps get a little rambunctious.

Pint glasses, short tumblers, five-ounce wine glasses: All of these can be found cheaply and can be used for different kinds of drinks. Essential!

Using a shaker
Beyond the Basics

Cocktail Shaker

Cocktail shaker: Once you’ve had a simple martini shaken instead of stirred, you’ll never go back. It’s your gateway to Cosmopolitans and much more.

Strainer

A simple tool that will save your tender palate from rough chunks of ice; the “Hawthorne” version has a spring inside to nest the strainer in the glass.

Ice Bucket

Once you’ve started making cocktails and/or entertaining seriously, you’ll want one of these on hand so you don’t have to constantly run to the freezer.

Blender

They’re not just for margaritas, anymore. Blenders can whip up all sorts of purees to flavor cocktails; fresh tomato juice for a michelada, anyone?

Bar Spoon

With an unusually long handle and a spade-shaped bowl, the humble bar spoon can mix pitchers of martinis or mimosas with ease.

Highball glasses, separate red and white wine glasses: You’re expanding your repertoire, so it’s time to get some new glassware, too.

Bartenders creation
More Sophistication

Jigger

This clever little metal gadget is double-sided so that when you’re making a complicated cocktail you can measure ingredients quickly and accurately.

Muddler

It looks like a miniature baseball bat and can help you hit a home run when you’re making a range of drinks like the mojito, as it properly crushes the mint and sugar into the glass without murdering them. It’s a total flavor-maker.

Garnish Knife 

Sharp, serrated, and with a cloven tip so that the bartender of the night can lift a lime cheek into a G&T without using your fingers.

Cocktail Stirrers

If you’re using a cocktail spoon, you might want to arm your guests with long metal or plastic or glass stirrers so they can keep their drinks well-mixed and flavorful.

Martini glasses, varietal glasses (e.g., Riesling, Cabernet), beer glasses (e.g., Pilsner, wheat): Now that you stock and make so many delicious drinks, keep the right glasses for them on hand, too.

Finishing a drink
Top Dog

Speed Pourers

When you’re serving more than a few people, these bartender’s-friends can make things a lot easier—more accurate, too.

Boston Shaker

This two-piece shaker—usually with a see-through pint glass as its second half—is the choice of confident cocktail enthusiasts with muscular flair.

Julep Strainer

A lovely little accessory for that loveliest of quaffs, the Kentucky-bourbon Mint Julep. Extra points for serving in silver Julep cups.

Bar-ice Trays

Larger ice cubes mean less ice melting in your custom-made cocktails. The best part is these don’t cost the earth, so stock up.

Wine Decanter

If you’re drinking serious reds, you’ll want to think about decanting—removing sediment before drinking.

Coupes, Champagne flutes, brandy snifters: Fancy glasses for fancy (and pricey) drinks. But they’ll make your bar look so professional!