Aside from glassware and liquor here are some unboozy things to collect that will make cocktailing easier:
- A bunch of Instagram filters
- Fancy camera
- A brand deal.
Ha. Just kidding. The Internet is full of guides on how to be a home bartender and most of them talk about what angle to take your photos at. The only time I use the rule of thirds when making drinks is with a Negroni. I'd love to watch these Instagram famous "bartenders" work a 14 hour shift. 5 days a week. For 10 years. Then manage the bar and do all the ordering. Work the weekends because no one else can hack it and then take Monday because it's the slow shift. And skip going on the cool distillery trip to France because someone is sick and the shifts need to be covered. Here are the real tools you need at your home bar.
- Space in the fridge and freezer. I know this is hard. The refrigerator has been forever filled with food and other novelties for sustenance. It is time to clear out that leftover General Tsao’s chicken and the pizza box with one half eaten slice to make room for some syrups and a bottle or two of vermouth.
- A cabinet or pantry space to keep the booze that doesn't need to be in the fridge. Think higher and lockable if you have babies, teenagers, or friends. I leave mine out in the open and I try to keep babies and teenagers out of my house. I only ever invite in the best of friends and they are welcome to anything on my shelf.
- A knife that is easy to clean, razor sharp, and short. Mac knives get my vote...and sometimes a fingertip.
- A peeler for getting perfect peels to garnish your drinks with. I swear by these cheap Swiss peelers. Buy a few and toss when they dull. No use in sharpening them.
- A bread knife and/or a large Udon noodle knife if you can find one for cutting up ice.
- A rubber mallet.
- A 10 quart insulated hard-sided lunch box cooler for making ice. I use Rubbermaid.
- An acrylic polypropylene (plastic) cutting board. Not wood/bamboo etc.
- A metric jigger that will allow you to measure between 10 ml and 50 ml accurately. I use two one with a 50 ml side and a 25 ml side and another with a 20 ml side and a 40 ml side. I use the latter more often.
- A stainless steel three piece cobbler shaker. I use the Yukiwa brand and it is my ‘daily driver’ per say in terms of shaking drinks.
- Some empty swing top bottles for syrups.
- A Boston shaker set made of stainless steel. The metal on glass option has been proven dangerous and no one will insure bartender hands these days. I could not recommend anything other than the Koriko brand. Buy a large (28oz) and a small (18oz) one and you are in business. They will require breaking in.
- A mixing vessel that holds around 500 ml (optional: you can just use your boston shaker).
- A larger vessel for mixing for a group or decanting. I use a low form 1000 ml beaker.
- An ice bucket and a set of ice tongs if you like. Wooden if you can find it. I find that the wood doesn't melt the ice like metal and plastic does.
- A hawthorne strainer. Koriko wins again here with a strainer that Don Lee helped design.
- A mesh strainer. I use the CoCo brand.
- A waiter's corkscrew with a crown cap bottle opener. I use a Laguiole and enjoy it very much but any decently built one will work.
- A manual juicer. I recommend the “Mexican Elbow” as opposed to the old push and twist methods that probably have a less offensive name.
- A way to crush ice. A lewis bag/hammer is an easy method. Your fridge probably does this too. Not matter what you will piss off the neighbors.
- A stainless steel bar spoon with a beaded end or my personal favorite the Hoffman® end. No Tridents. We are drinking and there are enough sharp things around already like the next tool.
- Three prong “Deluxe” brand ice pick.
- A digital kitchen Scale.
- A mint plant. Take care of it. Sunshine in the morning. Shade in the afternoon. Keep it moist and it will keep you from ever having to buy crap mint at the store.
With these things you can handle all of the drinks us bartenders make at a bar on a daily basis. You certainly won't need all of these things right away but I tend to reach for everything on this list at some time or another over a week. Somethings like the juicer I use daily while some things like the mallet I only use when ice is ready to be harvested.
“Always carry a corkscrew and the wine shall provide itself.” -Basil Bunting
Bar To Home
A simple translation from bar to home.