When the bell rings last orders, but the party isn’t over, there’s no-one more loved than the man with the home bar. Or should that be the man with the ultimate home bar – a couple of spirits and mixers on top of the fridge doesn’t quite cut it. So, if you’re looking to turn a little corner of your home into a bar to rival the best, then you need to invest – and here are the bottles and barware you should be buying.
Invest in a range of different glassware
They may come third in importance – after the ingredients themselves and the mixing apparatus – but the way you present your finished drink is how many of your guests will judge your final effort. So, rather than serving your meticulously-made cocktails in mismatched, branded glasses, invest in the best to ensure you’ll impress.
We’d suggest a good set of rocks glasses, highball glasses and martini glasses or champagne coupes. This way, you’ll have a vessel for almost every cocktail you can think of. True, you’ll still be lacking certain specialist glassware – like a hurricane glass for Pina Coladas – but you probably don’t have the room for such extras. And you shouldn’t be drinking Pina Coladas anyway.
Don't buy more barware than you'll actually use
There are certain essentials that you need in your cocktail set – and certain items that people have because they look good, but never use. As such, we’d suggest you don’t buy a set and instead invest individually in the tools you’ll actually need. That leather-handled bar set may look flashy, but you’ll never touch the knife when you already own a superior Sabatier in your kitchen drawer.
Start with a jigger, so you can always get the right measures of spirit in your cocktails. Also buy a long handled bar spoon, and mixing jug, for those stirred. For shaken, a good quality shaker is a must – along with a strong Boston glass. A reliable bottle opener never goes amiss, and a strainer can transform a questionable consistency into a silky smooth success.
Don't overbuy bottles of spirit
This is where it gets complicated. First thing’s first, begin by throwing away – or at least hiding – any bottles of spirit you already own. We’re talking off-license vodka or bargain whisky (and especially all those half-bottles and miniatures you got for Christmas 5 years ago and haven’t bothered to open yet.) Then, buy the basic eight – a reasonable expenditure, but one which will pay off handsomely when you start pouring.
A good Scotch whisky; a London dry gin; a Russian vodka; Kentucky bourbon; Blanco tequila; Amber rum; Sweet vermouth and orange liqueur. These are the staples of your collection, from which you can make most cocktails. Add simple syrup and Angostura bitters to this list, along with the basic mixers you should always keep in your fridge, and you’ll be well on your way to home barman of the year.
Don't let your home bar overpower your room
Try to keep things simple. Group your bottles on a dedicated trolley or corner of a sideboard. Stack glasses, and arrange your barware on a large silver platter to keep everything in the same place. The key to a great home bar is to make it as nondescript as possible – it only draws your attention when you need it. If you start dedicating a large part of your room to your drinking habits, you’ve gone too far. And don’t even think about plugging in that novelty neon sign…
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