If you've got yourself a decent collection of spirits, it's probably time to start thinking about creating a bar to boss some mixology at home. From glassware to gadgets and the extras that are gonna take your drinks from novice to pro (ish), we've got everything you need to make sure the party always ends up back at yours.
Yeah you can use a jam jar for shaking, or a rolling pin for muddling... but if you wanna look the part, you need to act the part. This is everything you need to start you off on your mixology journey. Sh-sh-sh-shake it up, baby!
Boston Shaker - If you like a home cocktail, chances are you've already got at least one of these bad boys in your bar collection. The Boston comes in two parts: a mixing glass, which can be made of either stainless steel or glass, and a Boston shaker cap, which is always made of stainless steel. The ingredients can then be vigorously shaken to mix them together, cool them down and aerate them. BOSH.
Cobbler Shaker - This shaker typically comes in 3 parts: the tin, the tightly fitted top, and a cap with a built-in strainer which is useful but not adjustable so you might get tiny pieces of ice or citrus pulp sneaking into your drink (it might require extra straining).
Hawthorne Strainer - The Hawthorne strainer is used with the Boston shaker. Once the ingredients have been shaken they'll always be strained as they are poured into the serving glass in order to keep the ice out of the cocktail. If ice is required in the cocktail, you can add fresh ice in your glass. No reusing those cubes!
Fine Sieve - This can be used alongside the Hawthorne strainer to ensure that all the ice fragments (created by shaking) are completely removed. No-one wants randoms shards of ice in their cocktail.
Mixing Glass - Mixing glasses are used for drinks that are stirred rather than shaken (Martinis, Old Fashioneds etc) They need to have high sides so that the glass can be filled with lots of ice to chill the drink properly. Stirring mixes the ingredients together, cools the drinks and causes a small amount of dilution.
Bar Spoon - Before you even think it, no, you can't use a teaspoon in place of a bar spoon. These have an extra long handle so you can easily mix your liquids and ice in a mixing glass. Your bar spoon can also be used to measure out small quantities of an ingredient.
Muddler - Muddlers are made of wood or plastic and are hard stick-like objects that are used to crush ingredients. For example, they are used to help release some juice from fruit and aromas from mint leaves.
Jigger - Jiggers come in a variety of shapes and sizes but they all serve a common purpose: to help you measure out your liquids. Simple.
1. Pineapple shaker 2. Ferm Living Brass Tipping Measure 3. Marble Bar Tool Set 4. Timeless Vintage Mixing Glass 5. Nude Hepburn Shaker with Copper Lid 6. Copper plated bar spoon 7. Luxe Lounge Muddler 8. Roebling Cut Crystal Martini Shaker 9. Blue Glass Cocktail Shaker 10. Gold-plated Fine Cocktail Strainer
We're suckers for beautiful glassware, and when it comes to fitting out a home bar, getting your hands on some beautiful vessels to serve your drinks in will make it even more exciting when you come to start mixing. Yeh, cocktails are about the liquid, but you're lying if you think you'd enjoy a G&T out of a Sports Direct mug...
Rocks - If you like your spirits neat/on the rocks, or your cocktails strong, you'll already be familiar with this style of glass. They're most commonly used for a number of whisky-based cocktails that are not significantly diluted, so you might know this glass by its "Old Fashioned" alter-ego.
Highball / Collins - Chances are you have something like this in your cupboards already. You know the one. Tall, slim. The supermodel of glassware. You'll serve long drinks in this one - anything diluted with a mixer with plenty of ice. It's a pretty standard glass, so pick one that'll stand out.
Martini - Probably the most iconic glass in the cocktail world. Not the kinda glass you wanna be holding on the dancefloor, but sitting elegantly at home sipping a Martini... now that's the dream right there.
Coupe - This glass was historically used to serve Champagne, but it lends itself perfectly to plenty of cocktails
Nick & Nora - This is an all-rounder of a glass style, and sorta does the job of the coupe, martini glass and very small wine glass with it's bell-like style... We love 'em, and they look epic holding both stirred down and shaken cocktails.
Flute - A must-have for champagne based cocktails. Even though you could serve your fizz straight in a coupe, the flute adds a sense of occasion to your drinks, and is perfect for cocktails like a French '75 or a classic Bellini.
Wine Glass - Not sure this one needs any explanation, but beautiful wine glasses are always a wicked addition to a home bar, especially if you love a Spritz when summer rolls around.
Copa de Balon (aka Balloon Glass) - This miniature fish-bowl style glass is what you wanna be serving your gin and tonics in. Its wide bowl shape helps to collect the botanical scents of your gin, and its wide enough to fit plenty of ice and various garnishes inside the glass, enhancing the aromas and keeping your drink cooler for longer!
Margarita Glass - In common with the Martini glass, this is used for well-chilled drinks that are not served with ice. It has a broader rim and is most commonly associated with the banging Margarita. However when we're drinking our Margs, we love 'em straight up in a thick glass tumbler, Mexican style!
1. Recycled Glass Margarita Tumblers 2. Long Ripple El Rayo Highball Glasses 3. Lustered Coupe Glass 4. LSA Champagne Flute 5. Soho Home Cut Crystal Champage Coupes 6. Riedel Nick & Nora Set 7. Pearl Balloon Goblets 8. Remy Savage x Nude Glass Coupetini Glassses 9. Riedel Rocks Glasses 10. Agata Gold Wine Glasses
Cocktail bitters are a form of extremely bitter flavoured spirit that can do some magical things to your drinks. Consider these the "seasoning" of your drinks - never a main ingredient. There are loads of different flavours and styles of bitters, and if you love an Old Fashioned or a next-level Martini, they're essential to your home bar.
Angostura - These bitters are a concentration of herbs and spices by House of Angostura in Trinidad and Tobago. We're talking extracts of grasses, roots, leaves and fruits dissolved in alcohol - ideal for balancing your alcoholic drinks, cleansing the palate and facilitating digestion. Nice.
Peychauds - Peychaud’s aromatic cocktail bitters are made using a predominance of distinctive cloves with hefty liquorice notes. They're a great 'all-rounder' for use in any drink calling for bitters, though particularly in a Sazerac.
Fee Brothers - This fam run biz has a lineup of over 90 varieties of classic bitters, mixes and cordials, as well as brines and botanical waters. When it comes to the bitters, they've got almost every flavour covered, from rhubarb to walnut and celery to molasses - perfect for pimping up a hard seltzer.
The Bitter Truth - This German-born company boasts an insanely extensive portfolio of almost every bitter you could think of. They're bringing back bitters than were once essential for cocktails but have since gone to the gallows of bitter production. This is one epic resurrection to have included in your bar.
Bobs Bitters - When it comes to flavours, there's no doubt that chefs know their sh*t. Bob Petrie is an ex- Pastry Chef who created his suite of single-ingredient, artisan bitters by approaching the development of his products from a culinary perspective. The resultant elixirs each contain an authentic, specific flavour, allowing the user to impart an intense, individual taste to a concoction.
When it comes to making your cocktail as beautiful to the eye as to the mouth, it's all about gorge garnishes and bad-ass decoration. You can pull a Del Boy and go ham on the cocktail umbrellas, but when we're channelling our fave bartenders at home, we make sure we have plenty of options at our disposal.
Luxardo Cherries - If you want to just eat these deliciously sweet cherries straight from the jar with a spoon, not only would be respect that, we'd encourage it. But save some for your drinks, as well. These aren’t the sorry-looking, day-glo red, flavour-free cocktail cherries you usually find on the shelves; they're deep red (almost black), whole pitted marasca cherries steeped in maraschino syrup. No Manhattan is complete without one.
Cocktail Onions & Olives - If you love a Gibson or a Dirty Martini, you need both of these delicious garnishes to hand. Keep a jar in the fridge at all times for when Martini Hour is suddenly sprung on you (we're talking 5pm or 5am)
Fruit - We all know how the addition of fruit can add a lil (or a big) something to a drink. Whether its a wedge of the fruit itself or a twist of peel swooshed around the glass, you've gotta have fruit (both fresh and dried) to hand when it comes to bossing home mixology. We always have lemons, limes, oranges & grapefruit in our bar bowl.
Edible Glitter - While some can offer a hit of extra flavour, most add literally f*ck all to the flavour of your drink, but that doesn't stop us digging a bit of edible glitter. The perfect showstopper, this is what you need for when you wanna get the party started.
Botanicals - it's cool to have a selection of botanicals to hand, especially if you wanna make your crew a bad-ass selection of G&Ts or elevate the flavours in a particular cocktail. This includes herbs like mint, basil and lemon balm too, so if you're a bit green-fingered, you could make some pretty wicked drinks with your herb garden.
The best bartenders will only use freshly squeezed fruit juices, so if you've got a juicer to hand (and maybe an orchard of orange trees in your back garden), your cocktails will be all the better.
When it comes to sweetening cocktails, syrups are the way forward. Many bars make their own and this is easy to do. We make our simple sugar syrup 1:1 - that's 1 part sugar to 1 part water - stir it down over medium heat until the sugar has dissolved and then pour into a bottle to keep in your fridge. Simple. Literally.
If you don't fancy a bit of DIY, or wanna experiment with a few different syrup flavours or purees, we've found these brands really hit the sweet spot.
MONIN - If you don't already have a bottle of one of these awesome flavoured syrups on your shelf at home we'll be surprised. These guys are the kings of wicked flavours and have something for pretty much every cocktail you could ever wanna make.
Maison Routin - These have been kickin' it since 1883, so they've had plenty of time to perfect their killer collection of flavoured syrups, of which they have dozens delectably categorised into the vibes you want your drink to embody, from exotic and sensual to rebellious and gourmet!
Funkin - If you wanna give your cocktails a bit of je ne sais quoi, hit up the Funkin collection of syrups and purees. They've got wild flavours like Bubblegum and Hemp, as well as a few classics like Vanilla and Agave (a must if you love a Tommy's Marg) that'll take your drinks to the next level.
Jack Rudy Cocktail Co. - You could stock your bar with everything this American brand offers, but if there's one thing you def need it's one of Jack Rudy's Tonic syrups which will blow all your other highball and mixer combos out the water.
Lead Image: The Graham & Green Marble Trinks Trolley of our dreams - available to purchase right here