It’s (almost) the most wonderful time of the year. That means everything, from having to buy presents to that unavoidable need to entertain visitors. The latter most likely includes dinner parties, social engagements and various friends and family passing through the revolving door of your home expecting a little bit more than a cup of tea. If you want to keep them extra sweet, you could do a lot worse than having a home bar prepared for visitors.
Let’s not be naive here – a home bar setup isn’t just for visitors. Few things beat being able to prep a Negroni or Gin Martini at home on a Friday evening after a long working week. So, whether you’re entertaining visitors or yourself, here’s what you need for the perfect home bar setup.
You’re going to need three types of serving glass: Rocks, Collins and Coupe. The first, unsurprisingly, is for drinks poured over ice cubes or spheres (more on that below). The second is for taller drinks requiring more liquid over crushed ice. Finally, the third is for drinks without ice. You can use the latter for a martini too.
It’s also worth investing in a mixing glass that’s large enough to hold at least 500ml. Sturdy so it won’t chip or shatter and with a spout for the perfect pour.
Ice is crucial so don’t scrimp when it comes to ice cube trays. Those brittle plastic ones are the worst. We’d recommend investing in a rubber version that produces ice cubes just over an inch in size. For rocks glass drinks, invest in some ice sphere moulds – they will melt at a slower pace and thus dilute your drink less.
You’re going to need a shaker or two if you’re creating more involved cocktails at home. We’d recommend opting for the Boston tin style (two metal containers you wedge together) for a timeless and understated option. For a more premium feel, try Georg Jensen – a Scandinavian brand that produces strikingly contemporary bar accessories. Their curvy shakers are items of beauty.
Long metal stainless steel spoon. Not much else to it.
Every home bar setup should have two strainers. The first, the Hawthorne, is the iconic model with what looks like a tightly coiled spring around the edge, designed to keep back the ice and unwanted ingredients in the shaker. The other, the fine mesh strainer, is for filtering out the smaller bits that slip through the Hawthorne.
You’re going to be getting through a lot of lemons and limes during your home bar career so make sure you’ve got a solid juice press that’s up to the job. As with all home bar accessories, aim for clean, metal designs as plastic handles will inevitably separate, break or fall off, leaving room for juice to get trapped.
The final accessory in the bar arsenal. Better to have a couple of two-sided bar jiggers instead of all those spirit measures lying around. One side is 50ml, the other side is 25ml. Simple.
The main event: the spirits selection. According to your preference, you’ll need gin, vodka, scotch, bourbon, rum and tequila. You might also want a rye whisky for making an old fashioned. You don’t necessarily need expensive spirits here, just solid reliable options.
Soda and tonic are essential and Fever-Tree is always a solid bet in that department. You’ll also need some Angostura aromatic bitters, sugar syrup (which is easy to make) and a few other additions depending on what classics you’re concocting. We’d argue no bar, big or small, is complete without vermouth or Campari, for obvious reasons.
We like the idea of everything having its own special place and we like a statement. If you agree, you might want to consider a trolley for your home bar. Granted, they’re the ultimate extravagance, but if you’re going to do it, you might as well do it properly.