Having a top-notch home bar is about more than buying a few bottles of your favorite booze. You also have to have the right gear on hand to mix up those drinks.
Good bar tools can elevate a cocktail to the next level, turning your drink into a beverage you would happily pay good money for if you were at a restaurant. And you don't have to be a cocktail nerd to admit that a lot of tools used for drink-making look pretty cool. So head to your nearest housewares store and stock up on these awesome gadgets before your next cocktail party.
Fancy Ice Cube Trays
Those plastic ice cube trays that come standard with every freezer are fine for a glass of water or some juice, but if you want to chill your cocktail, reach for something a little fancier. Cubes from standard trays are not uniform in size and will water down your drink by melting too fast. Have a tray or two in your freezer of good ice, so you'll always have some on hand for impromptu gatherings. Look for a tray that produces large, perfectly made cubes
. These are usually made of silicon or some other rubber-like material.
Eyeballing the pours that make up your libations are fine in a pinch, but if you want to get your recipes just right, you should have a jigger
on hand to measure out the exact amount of spirit that you're adding to a beverage. This is especially important if you're making the intricately crafted, multi-ingredient drinks that are all the rage these days. Get a double-sided, stainless steel model with a one ounce pour on one side and a two ounce on the other, and you'll never mess up your mixology again.
A bar isn't complete without one of those gleaming metal cocktail shakers and a metal strainer, but those aren't good for every drink. A cocktail stirrer
is essential if you're making classic selections like Manhattans or Martinis. The thinking is that violently shaking some of these drinks "bruises" the spirit, leading to a watered down, way-too-cold mess. Stirring, however, unlocks the nuances of the flavors and chills the drink without leaving you with a sore arm. A lot of metal stirrers have a muddler built onto the end, letting you fulfill two needs behind the bar with one gadget. Sweet.
Glass Seltzer Bottle
Is there any reason, flavor-wise, to squirt your seltzer out of a classic glass bottle
rather than pouring it out of some plastic? Nope, but if there is one gadget that can transform the look of your home bar to that of a swanky speakeasy, it's a bottle like the one they used to freshen up their beverages in all of those old-time movies. Yeah, you have to deal with getting cartridges of carbon dioxide (available at high-end housewares stores), but there's nothing like spraying some bubbles into your beverage to create a little buzz at your par-tay.
Now test out your tools on these cocktails!