Getting Started: Essential Gadgets for the Home Bar
Even though you may not be bartending all the time, having the right tools for mixing and serving drinks can help make all your parties a hit.
Properly measuring the ingredients for your cocktails ensures a balanced taste. Most jiggers (or measuring glasses) have a half ounce measure on one side and a two ounce measure on the other.
The Boston shaker (with pint glass) is the shaker of choice for professional bartenders. A standard cocktail shaker works just as well for your home bar, plus, it looks stylish.
You'll typically use a Hawthorne strainer with a Boston shaker. It keeps ice in the shaker while allowing fruit pulp to pass through.
Cutting Board and Knife
Prepare garnishes before you start serving, but keep a small cutting board and knife handy if you start to run out.
For layering or stirring. It's also handy for pulling cherries and olives from jars.
For mashing fruit or mint leaves into the bottom of a glass.
If you plan on serving wine - a winged corkscrew makes opening bottles a breeze.
Bartending requires mountains of ice, no matter how small the party. The right bucket keeps ice from melting and is especially handy if you're bartending outside.
Not-so essential hardware
If you already have a blender, make sure it's able to crush ice.
Especially useful for maintaining the bouquet in wine.
A smaller strainer that's handy if you're straining into narrower glasses.
Try chilling your glassware in the freezer, or by filling with ice cubes, before use. Always hold glassware by the base or stem to avoid leaving finger marks.
Also known as a cocktail glass, its chic neck lets your guests hold the glass without warming the drink.
Old Fashioned Glass or Rocks Glass
A short glass with a heavy base for drinks served on ice. It's the quintessential tumbler for enjoying whiskey.
Similar to a rocks glass, but taller. It's typically used for drinks that have larger amounts of mixer, such as a Scotch & Soda. A highball glass is also known as a collins glass.
Grasping the long stem keeps chilled wines from getting warm. The bowl shape of the glass converges the wine's flavors or the "bouquet." Red wine glasses typically have a larger bowl than white wine glasses.
Not-so essential glassware
The narrow shape helps retain champagne's carbonation.
Usually used for serving brandy, the bulbous shape helps hold aroma.
The best way to serve Margaritas or other frozen drinks. The wide rim is perfect for salting.
Improves beer's drinkability and is useful for serving low-alcohol and non-alcoholic drinks. A must-have if you're using a Boston shaker.
Thick-walled glass for serving shots or spirits.
Discount stores will carry most of these essentials