creating my home bar.
Everybody loves a freshly mixed cocktail served to them whenever asked. However, with what the year 2020 brought us, it wasn't always possible. Forcing people at home to start getting more creative when that itch to go out couldn't be scratched.
Creating a home bar can be very intimidating. I am given all the materials and tools at work as a bartender but still, when it came to creating my own home bar I didn't know where to start. When I started my research I didn't want to spend a lot of money to then have tools just collecting dust on my shelf. Here I am going to tell you about the tools that I use the most and, what I find helps take those homemade cocktails to the next level. Almost as if you're drinking a professional cocktail but also sitting on your couch with your slippers still on.
The Boston shaker is for exactly what the name says, to shake your cocktails. I prefer the Boston shaker over others because of the space within the vessel. It allows the cocktail to completely blend when bouncing from one end of the shaker to another. No one likes a margarita that has some sips all tequila and some all lime. I personally just use the big stainless steal bottom of a Boston shaker and a pint glass as the other end. You can also buy a set where both cups are stainless steel. Another tool the tumbler can sub in for when you are starting a home bar is a beaker. Glass beakers are beautiful to have and create cocktails in. When you are just starting out you can also use one half this tool. It doesn't look as good, but it does do the same thing.
There are so many different types of bar spoons. The 12inch spiraled spoon with the fork on the opposite end is my favorite. The fork to me is just an extra tool merged with something you are constantly going to be using. I like the spiral wand because when learning how to properly stir a drink the spiral helped the spoon flow between my fingers easily. I occasionally hear people ask "why cant you just use a regular kitchen spoon?" In reality you can use whatever you want. But to properly stir a cocktail a kitchen spoon will not flow along the outside of the glass to combine or dilute the ingredients. A regular kitchen spoon could chip the ice or not allow the fluid to flow evenly to create a perfectly mixed drink.
When I was in college measuring out our drinks seemed stupid. A few seconds with the bottle turned upside down always seemed like a smart idea, until the next morning. After starting to become more interested in the craft cocktail scene and creating my own at home I realized that measuring out the ingredients is everything about the drink. I personally like the jiggers that measure 2oz. on one side and 1.5oz. on the other side. I also recommend getting a jigger with smaller measurements within the two sides. It helps when adding in your sweet and sour components so there is less guessing and more just knowing. Being a bartender at home and also at work I like to sometimes work on the little tricks that look good when mixing a cocktail. Like when a bartender pours into one side of the jigger and very smoothly flips the jigger over to pour into the other side. I like to keep this in mind when finding the style of jigger I want.
You always want a strainer to make sure that whatever is supposed to be in the glass is the only thing in the glass. For example, when you're muddling herbs or fruits peels you don't always want the look of that ingredient in the glass but you do want the taste. I personally like the Hawthorne Strainer the best right now. Mainly because that is all I have used but also because it fits on any glass and it's easy for me to handle. I will admit eventually I want to start using a Julep strainer but until then my Hawthorne works perfectly. You can always use a mesh kitchen strainer if you don't have anything else, but just be careful when pouring the cocktail through as sometimes it doesn't flow through evenly and can overflow into the glass.
This tool may not be a "must have" to start a home bar but I do think it can be very helpful. Now before I start if you get a spoon with a flat bottom, then a muddler might not be necessary in starting your tool collection, but f you don't then keep reading. A muddler is nice if you like creating cocktails with herbs and citrus. Of course you can always juice the citrus but in drinks like an old fashion you want to muddle out the oils within the peel. Right now I use a stainless steel muddler, which I love, but I really want to change to a wood muddler. The stainless steel muddler I find can be very rough when muddling. So if that is what your choose to buy be gentle when using it. It can tear part of the herbs too much for what I want it to do. However, the stainless steel is much easier to clean meaning if I want to leave it overnight and its wet I don't have to worry about it.
The more that you use these tools the more you will want to expand or realize that you like a different style better. One of the biggest mistakes I was afraid of making when developing my home bar was assuming that I needed it all. A lot of it was because I was so excited to start to collect the tools I would use, but in the end it became overwhelming. Another tip is when looking for supplies look for packages, amazon usually has some good starters. You don't need to have the best made shaker, or the shiniest spoon in the bunch all you need is the basics. They will get you a lot farther than you may think.