There is nothing worse than designing and building your own home bar, picking out all the finishing touches to make it perfect, getting excited about your guests arrival – just to be unable to make the drink your guest asks for when you’re standing behind the bar waiting to serve them.
The moral of the story? You need a well stocked home bar.
And a well stocked bar is about more than just having the right type of beer in for your guests.
It’s to do with bar tools and glasses, knowing your cocktail recipes (and having the right ingredients in), and a bunch of other bar essentials.
If you’re new to owning a home bar, though, you might not know what you need, and that’s why today’s post will be a lifesaver!
The most important thing you’ll need before getting the alcohol from your local grocery stores are the glasses (which, coincidentally, are also probably available from your local grocery stores).
Getting the right glasses is important to give your home bar a more polished feel.
Most popular drinks and standard cocktails have specific glasses that work best with them, so having an array of glasses is essential to making your cocktail bar or cabinet look the part.
Here are some of the main ones.
A martini glass is always essential in bars because it’s a great cocktail, and it’s something you’ll need to serve regularly to friends and family.
Starting off with a set of 6 martini glasses is a great idea, and you can add more to your home bar later if necessary.
All well stocked home bars need rocks glasses. Rocks glasses are simply glasses you use to serve drinks on the rocks, like a rye whiskey.
A rocks glass can usually be bought for quite cheap in sets of 4-6, so a few of these will definitely kick-start your home bar in the right way.
Collins glasses are for drinks served with ice, usually mixed drinks like vodka and tomato juice, or whiskey and coke.
A collins glass is taller than a rocks glass and much thinner, (similar to a highball glass – you can decide if you prefer a collins or highball glass, you won’t need both) but they’ll hold much more liquid, which you’ll need for those who like mixers with their spirits.
Mixing glasses aren’t actually for serving a mixed drink. Instead, a mixing glass is used to, well, mix the drink, before serving in a collins glass or cocktail glass.
You’ll only need 1 mixing glass for a home bar. Look for a mixing glass with a lip for pouring through, or else when you transfer the mixed drink from the mixing glass to the serving glass, you’ll make a mess.
It also helps if the glass is thicker too, so any metal bar spoon you use won’t break it whilst you stir.
A champagne flute is always going to be necessary in a home bar (especially one that’s just opened).
You can usually buy them in sets, so just buy enough for the number of guests you’ll typically have at any one time.
6 wine glasses ought to be enough to satisfy the crowd at your home bar (with a good bottle of wine too, of course), but if you think you need more or less, then you can make those decisions for yourself after a few practice runs with friends and family.
Coupe glasses can be used for a variety of classic cocktails in the cocktail world, including martinis, and are great for serving all manner of drinks.
These are a must, and we’d recommend starting with at least 6 (but you’ll probably eventually need more).
And finally, you’re going to need some pint glasses. Great for pints of beer, of course, but on a hot day, don’t be surprised if your guests ask for a pint of chilled soda water too! Starting off with 12 glasses is probably sensible.
As well as the glasses, you’ll need the right bar tools to serve everybody’s favourite cocktails and delicious drinks.
A bar spoon is perfect for a home bar when you want to serve your drinks stirred, not shaken. Perfect for mixed drinks, a bar spoon is essential in a well stocked home bar.
Cocktail shakers are a must. Most cocktails will need a cocktail shaker at some point (well, maybe not most, but plenty will – consult your cocktail books first to be sure).
All shaken drinks will need a cocktail shaker. The best type is the boston shaker because it also has a built in strainer.
Just look for any cocktail shaker with a fine mesh strainer and you’ll be fine, though.
Ice makers are not just for making cocktails, you’ll need them in all sorts of spirit forward drinks and soft drinks too.
Buy an ice maker with ice moulds, and make sure it’s fully stocked for those hot days.
A bar cart is a great way to keep everything organised in your home bar. A bar cart doesn’t replace your home bar either.
Bar carts simply help keep essential liquors in one handy space, so they work together.
It seems obvious, but the number of home bars that can’t open even one bottle because they’ve forgotten their bottle opener is shocking.
Just one bottle opener is all you’ll need, but make sure it’s on your bar essentials list.
So far, we’ve not touched on the most important thing – the drink! Below we’ll bullet point everything you’ll need for classic cocktails like the monkey shoulder cocktail, mixed drinks, and even soft drinks for the kids.
Eventually, you may need to expand the list as you get more adventurous though.
- Light rum
- Dark rum
- London dry gin
- Triple sec
- Whiskey (including whiskey sours)
- Sweet vermouth
- Blanco tequila
- Tomato juice
- Lemon juice
- Pineapple juice
- Club soda
- Soda water
- Ginger beer
- Simple syrup/sour mix
- Lime juice
- Cranberry juice
- Aromatic bitters
- Tonic water
You may also need extras and fresh ingredients:
- Citrus fruits
- Sugar cubes
- Cocktail olives
- Fresh fruit (things you may need to use to garnish or juice for cocktails)
Besides what we’ve listed here, and some top-notch mixology skills, you won’t need much else for your home bar.
Just make sure you’re fully stocked before guests arrive and you’ll soon see how much fun a home bar is!