This is a much requested post following the debut of my Instagram IGTV series Let’s Make a Drink and today I am excited to share with you some of my bar essentials to always have on hand so you can make a myriad of different cocktails at home!
How to Stock Your At Home Bar
I’m breaking this into two categories – Bar Tools and Bar Ingredients. Of course both are up for interpretation based on your personal preferences and there’s always more you can have on hand but for today’s post I am focusing on the basics to get you started. The following will allow you to make all sorts of drinks.
You’ll want a few essentials when it comes to arming yourself to make cocktails at home. Below are my bar cart essentials. Of course you could also buy a set like this one or this one designed to set out with a variety of tools, too.
I like to be rather precise with my measurements so I use a measuring tool that has ounces, tablespoons and teaspoons on it for easy following of any cocktail recipe.
Cocktail Mixing Glass and Spoon.
Many cocktails need to be stirred and cooled in a cocktail mixing glass to get them blended and cold. Be sure to have one on hand along with a long spoon intended to stir cocktails easily (it works a lot better than a traditional spoon!) Try this Essential Barware Mixing Glass & Strainer and this Cocktail Mixing Spoon – both of which I own and love.
Lots of cocktails are shaken so you’ll want a good cocktail shaker. I prefer one that can go in a dishwasher personally but you can find a variety of more beautiful ones if you don’t mind washing yours by hand.
For prep I like to have a mini cutting board. Material Kitchen’s mini re-board is my go-to. It’s the perfect size for cutting fruits or garnishes of any kind and will catch any drips as you measure out and mix your ingredients together. (I also love that it is made of zero virgin plastic!)
Juice lemons and limes for all sorts of tart drinks with a Citrus Juicer that makes it a breeze.
Some cocktails call for muddled fruit or herbs so having a muddler on hand always makes the job easier.
My personal favorite cocktail book is Drinking French but I also recommend The Nomad Cocktail Book.
A Variety of Cocktail Glasses.
I love to source glassware – I collect it! And while I love the thrill of the hunt of vintage glassware – I also often buy glassware from Crate and Barrel, CB2 and Verishop as well. I recommend having Old Fashioned glasses, coupes and high balls on hand at the very least.
I love to use ice molds for the ice that sits in my drinks as I drink them. They add a bit of style to the drink while also serving a purpose! You can try square or round.
Add your garnish in a stylish way with a cocktail pick.
For any sippable cocktails, have some reusable metal straws on hand.
To ensure you and your guests have a place to rest their glass and avoid any staining of table tops, I like to have coasters on hand on my bar cart.
Liquors of Choice.
The liquor you stock your bar cart with of course is entirely dependent on your personal preferences. I personally always have a floral gin like Hendricks, a dry gin like Beefeater, a rye (High West Double Rye is my favorite), a bourbon (Woodford is a personal favorite), some Aperol, a vodka (I like Ketle One) both dry and sweet vermouths, a gold tequila (I love Arrette) and an orange liquor like Cointreau on hand so that I can make a variety of go-to, easy cocktails like Old Fashioneds, Margaritas, Martinis and Boulevardiers.
Be sure to try out a variety of brands and speak to your local liquor store staff to find out trending brands and explore some you’ve never had before! This is half the fun of mixology in my opinion. And remember that liquor stores often stock half bottles or minis so you don’t have to commit to a full liter before you know whether you like it!
Simple syrup is, in fact, so simple and is always in my fridge. Bring equal parts sugar and water together to a boil on the stove top and then let it cool before putting it in a jar and storing it in your fridge. I also love infusing simple syrups for certain cocktails! You can do so by adding fresh herbs or berries and letting them steep in the simple syrup for several hours either in the fridge or on the stove top.
My go-to Bitters are Angostura (for my Old Fashioneds) and Orange Bitters (for my martinis) but bitters come in a myriad of flavors. I recently got Grapefruit and Mint among others to try in more Spring & Summer drinks.
I always keep mini bottles of Tonic, Club Soda and Ginger beer on my bar cart to have on hand to top off drinks.
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For future reference, you can find all the bar tools I recommend in my Home Favorites Shop.
p.s. how to end recipe fatigue at home and easy holiday cocktails to try.
Yay! Thanks for this post. I’ve loved watching Let’s Make A Drink. We ‘ve bought the citrus juicer, the oxo measuring cup you use and Mr. Black after seeing you use them. Our next purchase will be some new glasses
Love to hear this, Brit!!
And make sure you always put your vermouth in the fridge after opening! It’s a low-alcohol wine-based substance, so it oxidizes and goes bad when left out.