Party season isn’t far away, and your plans to entertain over Christmas or New Year’s are probably underway. So after the guest-list is finalised and the menu planned, the only thing that remains to be seen is if you have a fully stocked home bar. No, we don’t mean just the alcohol; we mean all the accouterments that go into creating that perfect cocktail.
A consolidated selection of spirits and swanky glassware aside, your private home bar should exude an air of sophistication, and help you put together a perfect martini or old fashioned without much hassle. So whether you’re an aspiring bartender or an admirer of spirits, we’ve curated the ultimate list of essentials that goes beyond a mere shelf with a bottle of Mezcal and Dad’s whiskey. Read on.
For a great cocktail, you’re going to need a great mixing glass. It has somewhat of a laboratory vibe, which not only makes the whole ‘experimental cocktail’ fun but also makes for a useful stirrer. Get a thick glass with a spout to ensure seamless stirring and pouring. A crystal-cut Japanese mixing glass is a great start.
The perfect companion for your mixing glass is a bar spoon. Different from a regular spoon, bar spoons have a long spiral handle (to reach the tall glass and twist the ice) and a small, deep spoon. It’s great for mixing drinks that are to be stirred and not shaken (Negroni, Martini, or Manhattan). They also great for layering drinks if you’re a pro.
Act out ‘bartender’ in a game of charades and you’re likely to include a reenactment of using the shaker. There are two main types – cocktail/traditional or Boston – of which the Boston shaker tends to be more popular. It comprises of a mixing glass and a flat-bottomed bar tin. It’s an essential for all those who love frothy and fizzy cocktails.
The strainer is to a shaker what a bar spoon is to a mixing glass. There are various types of strainers but the ‘It’ strainer is definitely the Hawthorne. After shaking your drink, the Hawthorne strainer is used to separate liquid from extra ice or solid ingredients, making a smooth transition. It sits comfortably on the rim of your mixing glass with a coil of wire to hold it in place. Admittedly, it also looks very snazzy, and like you really know your skills.
Not just a funny sounding word, it is a useful tool as well. Jigger is for the champions of cocktail-making. It’s what you use to measure the quantity of alcohol, and is vital in getting the proportions right. After all, it’s the meticulous detailing that separates the amateurs from the professionals.
Muddler is an essential tool for mixing Mojitos, Caipirinhas, and Old Fashioneds. It’s a tool to crush stuff, and blend fruit and sugar. Use it gently to release the fluid. If you’re in a good muddling mood, you could also crush ice with it.
Let every sip be stylish and eco-friendly with metal straws. Besides adding a sophisticated flair to your home bar, metal straws are noted for retaining temperature in iced drinks, allowing your guests to enjoy their cocktails longer. It also doubles as handy swizzle sticks, ensuring your mixed drinks can stay mixed until the very last sip.
Whether it’s a cube in an Old Fashioned or crushed in a Mai Tai, ice is an important component of a good drink. Get an ice bucket for handy ice, an ice scoop for handling, and an ice pick to break it down. If you’re really looking to impress, get a snazzy ice mould for dramatic ice spheres or heavy block cubes.
In a time where Instagram-friendly cocktails are of paramount importance, funky glassware for the presentation of your final concoction is vital. For a quick-fix at home, you need only three types of glassware. Stem glass (either coupe or v-shape), rocks glass, and highball glass. If you want to go the extra mile, you could also get a double rocks, julep cup, flute, or hurricane glass.
For final touches to your home bar, stock up on cocktail books. Recommended ones are ‘Savoy Cocktail Book‘, published in 1930, written by legendary barman Harry Craddock of the iconic American Bar at London’s Savoy Hotel. The book features 750 of Craddock’s most famous cocktail recipes, from ‘Slings, Shrubs, and Smashes’ to ‘Fizzes, Fixes, and Flips’.
Fun fact: When Harry Craddock was once asked how to best drink a cocktail, his answer was “Quickly – while it’s laughing at you!”
All images: Courtesy Beaker & Glass
This article originally appeared on Lifestyle Asia Bangkok.