After traveling for a beautiful wedding weekend in Florida (yay Katie and Derek!) and starting a new job (yay employment!) – I have failed you in preparing a cocktail this week. I have certainly consumed many cocktails this past week… but none of my own creation. Fortunately, I have amazing friends and readers who ask the perfect questions like, “how do I set up my own home bar?” and “what supplies do I need?” I am glad you asked!
Today I am going to share with you some information about what I use to make cocktails and how I have set up my home “bar”.
As I began collecting all sorts of glasses and mixers and liquors, I knew a small bar cart would be the right way to store and display my goodies. This bar cart is actually a utility cart from IKEA and I have plans to spray paint it gold and add some marble contact paper to the shelves (I promise to update you once I get my act together). So here we go! I will tell you a bit about my shelves and talk about what you need to get started!
To get started, you will need a few key items to mix, strain, measure, and muddle your ingredients.
- Bar Spoon: This tool is used to mix and layer drinks. The long handle allows you to thoroughly mix all of your ingredients in tall glasses and they are designed to easily circle around a glass. They can also be used to layer drinks and you use the back of the spoon to slowly pour different alcohols on top of each other to create a distinct layering effect.
- Muddler: This tool is used to gently crush ingredients and release juices and flavors from fruits and herbs. If you don’t have a muddler, you can always use the back of a wooden spoon. I use this tool to crush berries and herbs like basil in the bottom of my shaker before adding liquid. I have found the best technique to push down and gently rotate on the ingredients rather than just mashing them straight up and down.
- Shaker: This shaker is one that I found in a cute little vintage store and I wanted it because it looks cute on my bar cart. There are all sorts of shakers out there and you should choose the one that is right for you. I like this one because the top has little holes cut into it so I can strain out my shaken cocktail straight into a glass.
- Jigger: This tool is your best friend for consistently measuring the right amount of liquids into your cocktails. A jigger can come in a variety of sizes, but the most common is 1 ounce/1.5 ounces. Mine is from Crate and Barrel and is 1 ounce/2 ounces. You will see that I always use ounces in my ingredient list, but if you don’t want to buy a jigger, an ounce is roughly equal to 2 tablespoons.
- Mixing Glass and Strainer: I use a mixing glass with a little spout when I am making drinks that are stirred, not shaken. I stir when I am using bubbly liquids or I want to keep the air out of the drink. A strainer is important here to keep the ice and any fruit seeds or large chunks in the glass and out of your final product!
You will also see some of my larger bottles of liquor up on the top shelf!
Choosing the right glass is important in serving cocktails. This is certainly not all of my glassware, but I am partial to the look of the coupe glass and our gold rimmed beer goblets from Wicked Weed. See below for common types of bar glassware!
- Highball Glass: These are most similar to the size of a water glass and are defined by their tall and skinny shape. Highball glasses are for drinks with plenty of ice and can commonly be seen when ordering vodka and soda drinks. They hold between 8 and 12 ounces of liquid.
- Old Fashioned or Rocks Glass: These are short and seen on the far right side of the photo above. These are good for whiskeys, gin and tonics, and drinks that may use large ice cubes. They hold between 4 and 10 ounces of liquid.
- Coupe Glass: These are dainty little glasses and make a drink feel quite fancy. Seen in the right of the photo above, they have long stems and are commonly seen holding champagne. You can use them for cocktails that don’t require ice in the glass and I like to use them for frosé!
- Martini Glass: I don’t own any martini glasses currently, but these are very commonly seen holding martinis (of course), cosmopolitans, and drinks without ice that benefit from having a strong aroma before drinking. The tall cone-like shape enhances the drink’s aroma and the stem keeps the drink from warming up to your touch.
These are just a few of the many types of glassware out there. I think a highball and old fashioned glass will get you through life just fine. I also use my stemless wine glasses when I am feeling extra thirsty. And lastly, I will mention, because they are in the photo, the copper mugs. These are typically used for moscow mules and people say they bring out the flavor of the lime and ginger. I don’t know if that is true, but they are fantastic at keeping liquids hot or cold for longer periods of time – so if you have a set, feel free to experiment and step outside the moscow mule rut!
You made it to the end! The bottom shelf! This is where I keep liquor that I don’t use very often as well as some bitters and mixers. I believe a well stocked bar should always have club soda and tonic water handy. I really like the Fever-Tree bottles because they come in four-packs that are much more reasonable for having 2 drinks. I used to buy the bottles of tonic water at the grocery store, but they always went flat before I could get through just half! These individually sized bottles have made life so much easier for us. Fever-Tree also has ginger beer in these sizes for moscow mules. Look out for my moscow mule recipe soon!
That is it! My itty bitty bar cart where all the magic happens. I hope this helps you in your quest to perfect your own cocktails at home and please comment with any questions or tell us what you like to use in your home bar!