Words by Kyle Fulton
A well-stocked home bar is a grown-up rite of passage. Gone are the days of serving vodka that’s been in the back of your freezer for years or a random bottle of wine you got as a gift. Even if your current residence can’t accommodate a full-scale libation station, a bar cart kitted out with the tools of the trade means you can still perform some pretty impressive home mixology.
Whether you like your cocktails shaken or stirred, there are a few staples no tipple trolley should be without. So what are the essentials and what can you do without? Consider this your barware basics 101.
When it comes to crafting cocktails, you can have all the alcohol and mixers on the planet, but if you don’t have the gear, how are you supposed to properly execute the recipe?
Shaker: Most specialty cocktails require a shaker. Go pro with a Boston shaker – two stainless steel cups that fit into each other – or, if you can’t hold those comfortably, opt for a cobbler shaker, which has a lid with a built-in strainer.
Jigger: A jigger is a mixologist’s tool of choice for getting those precise half, one and two ounce measures right. And if it’s double-ended, even better.
Strainer: Look for a dishwasher-safe strainer that fits inside your shaker to strain cocktails directly into glassware.
Stirrer: Because not all drinks are shaken... For effortless, stylish stirring, whether in the glass or a pitcher, you’ll want a spiral-handled long bar spoon.
Corkscrew/Bottle opener: Save on space by buying a corkscrew with built-in foil knife and bottle opener.
Tongs: Skip the ice scoop. Tongs allow you to select individual ice cubes—including specialty shapes, like spheres and diamonds.
Accessories: Put the finishing touch on masterful mixes with eco-friendly, re-usable straws, stylish coasters, coloured cocktail napkins, fruity garnishes or even edible flowers.
A top-notch tipple demands a glass with class - but there’s no one glass to suit every libation. Be sure to keep these essential sippers on hand.
Highball glasses: Also known as a Collins glass, the tall glass is your classic mixed drink vessel. Don’t go larger than 12 ounces or you’ll be on the floor.
Low ball: Wide, squat, heavy-bottomed tumblers are the go-to choice for spirits served neat or over ice, and a must for an Old Fashioned.
Martini glasses: Whether you like it dry or dirty, martini glasses are fun, flirty and fabulous.
Wine glasses: In most cases, a standard set will do. But if you’re a connoisseur of a full-bodied Malbec or Cabernet, consider investing in separate glasses for red and white wine.
Champagne flutes: Preserve those bubbles and keep hot fingers away from the cool fizz with fancy flutes.
THE WET GOODS
Stock up with one of each of the key spirits - vodka, gin, rum, tequila, whiskey, and vermouth – and you’re golden.
Vodka: A must for making everything from Moscow Mules to Bloody Marys.
Gin: Because what’s better than a G&T or a Singapore Sling?
Tequila: Sip it straight up, on the rocks, or in a classic Margarita.
Whiskey: Neat or not, rye or bourbon, you can’t entertain without it.
Rum: Crucial for tropical tipples, from a sunny Daiquiri to a Dark & Stormy.
Vermouth: A martini essential, choose sweet or dry, or go for both.
Last but not least, line up a few mixers in pretty bottles, trick out your trolley with cocktail accessories and you’re well on your way to being the host with most.
Juice: Orange, grapefruit and cranberry will cover most bases. If you don’t have fresh, keep a few mini-bottles on hand in case of company.
Soda: Stock up on plain soda, or seltzer, and flavoured varieties.
Tonic: A few artisan tonics in funky bottles pair perfectly with premium gin.
Bitters: The concentrated flavour of bitters give any cocktail a little extra punch.
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