So you've got a brand new bar cart or cabinet (or you're making room in a buffet or kitchen cabinet), and you want to know how to stock it. We’re here to help with the key ingredients you need for a well-equipped bar, so you’re ready for a big party or just friends stopping by unexpectedly.
You've seen those bar tool sets, but do you really need all those things and what are they used for, anyway? The short answer is, if you’re only going to drink wine + beer, invest in a good corkscrew and a couple bottle openers it’s good to have extras for parties. But if you plan on mixing any cocktails, it’s also useful to have:
Super helpful for measuring out liquor so you don't overserve your guests—or yourself! The standard double jigger has a one-ounce (or "pony") measure on one side and the standard 1.5 ounce on the other side. (Pour freehand at your own risk!)
Even if you're not making martinis, cocktail shakers are a great tool to make sure your ingredients are blended thoroughly and chilled and it adds some effervescence, too. Metal ones help chill your drink (then strain the ice if you don’t want it to get watered down).
You might also want to add:
If you're squeezing lemons or limes, muddling in fruit or herbs, or want an ice-free drink, a strainer comes in handy. There's the old-fashioned julep strainer (like an oversided, perforated spoon) or the classic Hawthorne strainer (the kind with a curly spring around the outside).
This can be a basic hand press or an electric juicer, but if you value fresh lime, lemon, or fruit juices in your cocktail, this is great to have.
This simple tool, usually wood or stainless steel with a ridged or toothed end, is used to crush or "muddle" fruits, mint leaves, and herbs, releasing the flavors + oils. A pro move well worth the small investment.
These always come in handy for grabbing ice or garnishes.
Whether stirring tall drinks or fishing out maraschino cherries or olives, this long-handled spoon with a small bowl does the trick (easy sub: an iced tea spoon).
You don't need lots of fancy glasses taking up space in your bar cabinet, but you will probably want to invest in:
Red + White Wine Glasses
Red wine glasses are a bit taller with a larger bowl than white wine glasses, because bold red wines need more room to release their aroma and flavor. If you’re not a big wine drinker and you only want one type of wine glass, go for red.
Double Old-Fashioned Glasses (also known as rock glasses)
These shorter glasses generally hold 8 to 12 ounces and are used for liquor-centric drinks like their namesake Old Fashioned, whiskey, or bourbon.
Tall glasses that generally hold 12 to 16 ounces are used for drinks with soda or mixers and lots of ice, like Gin + Tonic, Dark + Stormy, Cape Cod and so forth.
Depending on your drink preferences, you may eventually want to add :
Stemmed glasses are best when you're serving a shaken or stirred drink without ice, like a martini or Manhattan, because the stem prevents your hand from warming the glass.
A narrower flute or tulip-shaped glass preserves the bubbles, but in a pinch, you can also serve champagne or prosecco in a white wine glass.
If you're a craft beer lover, pilsner and pint glasses capture effervescence and help retain the head of the beer.