Everyone that drinks spirits at home has some sort of home bar. Whether it’s an old fashioned wheeling cart or a locked cabinet in their kitchen, it’s a necessity. So the question is, what do you put in your home bar? I’ve covered some of my favorites below; maybe I can make some of these your new favorites as well:
Lots of cocktails, including an actual Martini, require a shaker to make. The motion causes the ice to melt a little and the ingredients to fully mix. Bartenders sometimes choose long bar spoons and mixing glasses to lessen the “bruising” of the spirit. It’s your personal choice which to use and when, in my opinion, but either or both are necessities for blending.
Please don’t make the mistake of collecting them as you will never finish – you just need one! Either a jigger (with a different measurement on each end) or a shot glass will work when you need to measure out the proper number of ounces for your cocktail. The easiest for me is the metal shot glass used as a stopper on my martini shaker. Unless you are an experienced bartender and can gauge an ounce, you’ll need the proper device.
Bitters and Simple Syrup
I was intimidated about using bitters and syrup until two things happened: They were in many cocktails I wanted to try, and they were easily found in either my own grocery store or online via Cocktail Kingdom. I was amazed by the flavor such a small “dash” could make.
Ice Ball Maker or Large Trays
I covered the need for an Ice Ball Maker in this previous article: (http://evewine101.com/2015/02/20/wine-101-ice-ball-maker) and different types of large ice cube trays here: http://evewine101.com/2014/02/07/eve-discusses-rock. I use both, but it’s really just your own personal preference what to choose based on your own aesthetics, and how much you want your cocktail diluted.
Old Fashioned, High Ball, Nosing Glass and Martini Glasses
An Old Fashioned glass, aka a Low Ball or Rocks Glass, is best suited for cocktails that will be served on the rocks. The “nosing glass” is for sipping single malt scotch without ice, but maybe a splash of water. The Martini glass (or rounded “Coupe” glass) suits any spirit, clear to brown, that is served without ice.
Cocktail Recipe Book
I found an old Trader Vic’s Cocktail book at a sale, and I have the standard Bartender’s Guide. Get one, or be satisfied looking your drink recipes up online and bookmarking them for further use. You can certainly wing it and experiment, but unless you are planning a career in mixology, don’t waste your spirits by sending them down the drain.
There is a HUGE difference using fresh juice in a craft cocktail over bottled juice. If you happen to have one already, use that. If not look at the heavy metal press juicers that are meant to squeeze (and filter out pulp and seeds) one half of a lemon or lime at a time. They are very quick and efficient.
For fruit that can’t be juiced such as apples, raspberries and strawberries, as well as leaves, whole nutmeg, cloves or cinnamon sticks, you must muddle. I prefer a wooden muddle but there are metal spoons with muddlers affixed to them as well you can try.
It’s one more piece of equipment you can incorporate to make your cocktail with fresh ingredients stand out.
I couldn’t help but mention these handy plastic pouches for the bar on-the-go:
http://www.rumrunnerflasks.com/flasks.aspx Pack them in your luggage when traveling on cruise ships if you like, filled with your favorite spirit, as that is their intention.
The Booze Staples List
Vodka (I’m on a Tito’s kick at the moment.)
Gin (Hendricks, found at the supermarket, is infused with juniper, cucumber and rose petals among other things.)
Bourbon (Buffalo Trace, again found at the supermarket)
Blended Scotch (Dewars, for cocktails not for sipping, in my opinion.)
Single Malt Scotch (Our every day choice is either Balvenie and Aberlour, not for cocktails.)
Rye (I personally like Templeton and you can purchase that at the supermarket.)
Aperol and Campari (Both have bitter orange flavors that lends to many cocktails including the Aperol Spritz and the Negroni, Campari is the stronger flavored of the two)
Lillet (An apéritif wine used instead of vermouth in a Martini. The “blanc” is slightly orange flavored while the “rouge” is a stronger flavor of both orange and berry.)
Vermouth (Get both sweet and dry, I’ve not a noticed a difference among brands.)
Check out www.CocktailKingdom.com for more ideas for your home bar. (Disclosure: I was not paid by, nor do I have any affiliation to, Cocktail Kingdom.)
Eve Bushman has been reading, writing, taking coursework and tasting wine for over 20 years. She has obtained a Level Two Intermediate Certification from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust, has been the subject of a 60-minute Wine Immersion video, authored “Wine Etiquette for Everyone” and recently served as a guest judge for the L.A. International Wine Competition. You can email Eve@EveWine101.com to ask a question about wine or spirits that may be answered in a future column. You can also seek her marketing advice via Eve@EveBushmanConsulting.com