Not everyone wants to work as a bartender, but that doesn’t stop us from becoming an occasional home bartender.
Sometimes, though, something feels a little bit off when you try to play the part. Like something’s missing. The problem isn’t the dearth of customers—you’re guaranteed at least one a night anyway (ba dum tss!).
Rather, it’s the lack of supplies.
Sure, you might know how to mix some soda with vodka. But do you know how to make a killer cocktail for your friends? I’m talking about making a drink taste and look like it actually belongs in a bar. You know, instead of on some crumb-infested kitchen countertop.
Aside from the alcohol itself and whatever syrups and mixers you like, here are six bar staples that’ll transform your home bar from just-out-of-college to pretty-damn-authentic:
Home Bartender Supplies
You can’t expect to enjoy a drink if it doesn’t look at least a little bit classy. Spend a few bucks on some expensive-looking glassware (looking being the key ingredient). And you’ll learn how effective presentation can be. Staples include martini, highball, lowball, coupe and red wine glasses. Most of which can be bought together in bartender-targeted glassware sets. Be sure to also invest in a mixing glass.
Like cocktails? Then get shaking. A cocktail shaker is a fairly iconic piece of equipment for the average bartender. And you’ll need one if you’re planning on making your share of fancy-looking mixed drinks. Easy-to-make shaker drinks include black cherry martinis, blinkers and Celtic margaritas. But don’t shy away from conducting your own alcoholic experiments.
Maybe you’re used to using that one weirdly-oblong-shaped spoon to stir your drinks. But if you want to look like a real professional, chuck that little guy in the dishwasher and go buy yourself a couple of bar spoons. They’re the perfect length for your glassware (read: no accidentally dipping your fingers in the drink when trying to mix that bottom layer). Plus, they make something as simple as stirring look extra sophisticated.
I’m not talking about those big old strainers you use for pasta. A cocktail strainer is a small sieve used to keep ice out of your drink as you pour it from a shaker into a serving glass. There are two types of strainers: the Julep strainer, which looks like a tiny version of a pasta strainer attached to a long handle, and a Hawthorne strainer, which contains a metal spring to filter ice. You don’t need both, but they’re usually pretty cheap.
Though not a necessity, a blender will come in handy if you enjoy whipping up frozen daiquiris and other chilly drinks. Any regular blender will do; just make sure it can break down ice without breaking itself first. (In case you’re curious, the trick is to use already-crushed ice, not cubed.)
With all of that being said, the last thing on this list you’ll (obviously!) need is ice. But just having a refrigerator isn’t always enough. For both stylistic and practical reasons, you should be aware of the size and shape of the ice cubes you’re using for particular drinks. Silicone ice cube trays are a good alternative to fridges’ awkward moon-shaped cubes.
Don’t be afraid to make a couple of purchases and get your home bar going. After all, even if you’re your only customer, why shouldn’t you deserve the best after a (presumably) hard day of work? Now that’s something we can all drink to, I bet.