Kelsey Taylor welcomes visitors to the bar at NOËL Family Distillery. “Cocktails are fun and even more exciting when you mix them yourself and share them with friends and family,” she says.
All that’s required to whip up classic or even quirky libations is a home bar setup with a few NOËL spirits, mixers, some essential barware tools and glassware, and a batch of dependable drink recipes.
Here are 12 essentials every home bar needs: :
Not all cocktails are created equal. Some are served on the rocks and others neat. Some are best enjoyed in short glasses, and others you shoot in a single gulp.
A well-rounded collection of glassware includes:
- Martini glasses
- Rocks glasses
- Highballs and beer mugs
- Shot glasses
- Specialty stemware, such as margarita glasses
- Wine glasses
2. Cocktail Shakers
Shakers are used for mixing cocktails and are among the most important tools in commercial and home bars.
There are several types of cocktail shakers such as the elegant three-piece Cobbler shaker with an integrated strainer or the two-piece Boston shaker, which is more versatile. The Boston shaker’s mixing glass alone is fantastic for mixing cocktails that require no shaking but stirring, like martinis. How to choose? You can never have too many cocktail shakers, so have one of each!
3. Bar Spoons
Although technically, you can use any spoon to mix a drink, bar spoons are the most effective way of swirling cocktails. These long-handled, threaded spoons let you easily combine ingredients no matter the size and shape of the glassware. Use bars spoons for sugar and scooping olives from a jar, too.
Strainers serve several purposes in the cocktail world. A fine-meshed strainer ensures your drinks are smooth and don’t have ice shards or debris particles from lemon juice and similar. On the other hand, a Hawthorne strainer, with its coiled spring, is designed to pour a mixed drink from the cocktail shaker into the glassware, leaving the ice behind.
Classic muddled cocktails, like the mojito and the caipirinha, are as popular as ever. However, the category is more diverse today thanks to creative mixologists using fresh ingredients in their recipes. Muddling is no hard science; you just need the right tool to mash fresh herbs or fruit. You might not use a muddler every day, but you’ll be thankful to have one around for special drinks.
Slipping a NOËL Coaster under your guest’s craft cocktails gives a special touch. But coasters serve a practical purpose too by protecting your workspace and bar from scratches and absorbing spills. A few sets of coasters are a must for every home bar!
Measuring tools called jiggers are the best way to ensure your cocktails are balanced. Yes, you can eyeball cocktails if you practice long enough. Still, even the most experienced mixologists measure their ingredients with a jigger or measuring cup. Jiggers come in different sizes, but you’ll be all right with a 1.5 oz – 2 oz jigger — standard pours used in most cocktails.
8. Ice Cube Tray & Ice Bucket
Ice might be the most essential ingredient in cocktail making — it chills and dilutes drinks, whether mixing neat cocktails or pouring them on the rocks. And if you’re just getting started in the world of home bartending, you’ll soon learn the importance of ice. You’ll need lots of it! so have a couple of ice cube trays and an ice bucket on hand.
9. Pour Spouts
Spouts, also known as liquor pourers, are handy little tools that help you pour a smoother stream. Place these on your bottles and pour faster and more efficiently. Spouts also add a wow factor to your drink mixing. Spouts are not ideal for long-term storage, so close your spirit and liqueur bottles with their original caps when not using them.
10. Bar Mats
Bar mats are non-slip rubber mats designed to catch spills, protect your home bar’s surface, and keep the space clean and tidy. They come in all shapes and sizes, are easy to clean, and last a lifetime. Find the bar mats that work best for you.
11. Hand Juicer
The easiest way to elevate your drink-mixing to the next level is by using freshly squeezed juice. For that, you’ll need a hand juicer. The famous Mexican hand juicer is ideal for home bars and allows you to squeeze lemons and limes easily.
12. Lemons & Limes
Don’t forget the citrus! Since so many popular cocktail recipes call for this tangy fruit, keep your bar fridge well stocked. Citrus wedges and wheels are also popular garnishes and add a pop of color and a festive finishing touch to your home cocktails.
“You can never have too many limes,” says Kelsey Taylor when bartending at NOËL Family Distillery. “Store citrus fruits in open containers to promote airflow and prevent mold,” she advises.