At Owl's Brew, we like to consider ourselves professional-amateur bartenders. Whether you are making a killer spicy margarita, fruity sangria, or anything in between, there should be nothing intimidating about whipping up a variety of drinks at you home bar.
We've put together a list of all the tools you'll need to build out your home bar set up. And please remember, you don't need these all at once! But as you add to your collection, we think you'll impress yourself with your cocktail skills.
1. Angled Jigger
Proportions are everything! A proper jigger is key to measuring out the correct ratios, whether making a single drink or a large batch for a crowd. We love the angled jigger, because you are able to see the accurate measurements without the guesswork or eyeballing of a traditional jigger or shot glass.
2. Good Ice
My aunt tells a story that one time she was at an island beach-bar that used sea water to make their ice cubes. If you didn't drink fast enough, your drink would get saltier as the ice melted into the cocktail!
Although sea water is certainly drastic, the importance of good ice cannot be understated, as the ice chills your cocktail, and dilutes into the drink. It's important to note the size and speed of the melt of different cubes, based on your drink (large 'rocks' for spirit heavy drinks vs. smaller or crushed ice for different mixed drinks).
3. Basic Glassware
There are 3 types of glassware that can carry any/every drink you will make. Coming from a New York apartment, I have attempted to minimize any unnecessary clutter from the apartment. I feel particularly passionate when it comes to glassware. There are no glassware rules, only preferences. The booze gods will not swoop in if you start drinking white wine in a 'red wine glass', or if you sip your martinis out of a rocks glass. In my opinion, the only 3 glasses you need to start your at-home bar include:
- All purpose wine glass
- Lowball/ Rocks glass
- Highball glass
4. Reusable Glass Cocktail Bottles
One of our favorite ways to use Owl's Brew Mixer, is in pre-batched cocktails. There's nothing worse than having to make, and re-make (and re-make!) cocktails for a crowd. One of our favorite at-home bar additions is a sturdy glass bottle. Our favorites are the Crew Bottle Co's bottles, which have an unscrew-able bottom that make filling, and cleanup easy. Each of the bottles are dishwasher safe, so each batch is fresh and delicious!
5. Sharp Knife
Sharp knives are critical anywhere in the kitchen. Small paring knives, often designated for the bar receive a beating. Keeping the bar knives sharp to slice up garnishes takes the stress out of the final step of making your cocktail. Say goodbye to the lime sawing days!
6. Cobbler Shaker
Cocktail shakers are an incredibly important addition to any at-home bar. There are several styles of shakers that have various pros/cons. Our favorite, for easy at-home use, is the cobbler shaker. This is the traditional 3-piece style, with a built in strainer. It's a bar staple, and is more usable than the other styles (French and Boston!). Practicality is key!
7. Bar Spoon
When mixing a drink, it's important to have a simple bar spoon help stir, and chill the drinks. These spoons are skinny and long, and are easy to use when stirring in the base of the shaker, or directly in the glass.
Squeezing citrus for cocktails can be one of the most dreaded and tedious parts of making drinks at home. A manual juicer, with a built in strainer, makes the job easy, and the task much less daunting. There's no need to cut corners with the bottled stuff when you have one of these juicers in your kitchen!
9. Proper mixers and garnishes
It's important that the ingredients to make, or finish, any drink are also high-quality. The quality makes a difference, whether getting ripe limes, dashing in angostura bitters, or using the cleanest, most delicious margarita mixer. It's worth taking that extra step-- trust us, you will not be disappointed.
This goes without saying, but we like to stock our bar with a few staples. On our bar, you'll find tequila, gin, bourbon, vodka, rum, and maybe a special liqueur like a Campari or an Aperol. We usually go for middle shelf booze if you plan to make a cocktail, and maybe splurge for a top shelf item if you're planning to sip it straight.
Drink Wise, and Cheers!