The 10 Best Home Bar Essentials, According to Bartenders

When it comes to making cocktails at home, it can be hard to know which items you really need. Luckily, I’ve done the hard work for you and asked around to get a feel for what bartenders think are the best home bar essentials. Get your home cocktail bar off on the right foot with these tips!

Shaker And Strainer

The shaker and strainer is one of the most essential bar accessories that you’ll need to make a wide variety of drinks. This classic bar tool is traditionally used to mix up cocktails such as martinis, or shaken up cocktails such as Mojitos.

What we recommend: Chef’n Professional Power Balance Shaker ($24.99, Amazon) Shaker Classic Shaker Silicone Stirred Measuring Cup ($7.49, Amazon) Strainer Sewn Pouring Shield for Metal Measuring Cups ($7.49, Amazon) Bourbon Barrel Quarter Cask Reserve ($19.99, Total Wine) Set of 12 & 1/2″ Glass Jars ($9.49, Amazon) Boba Drink Flasks ($19.99, Etsy) Soda Stream ($19.99, Amazon) Crushed Ice Maker ($26.99, Amazon) That’s all you really need for a cocktail at home.

Measuring Glasses & Jiggers

Measuring jiggers are a must have for anyone who creates cocktails, you need them to measure out the correct amount of an ingredient. A basic set of measuring jiggers and a good set of high-end bar tools are the most critical pieces of equipment.

Bar tools make up about 80 percent of the cost of a cocktail bar. Keep a jigger of bitters on hand, a classic ratio is 1 1/2 ounces of the spirit to 5 ounces of the liquid. Jigger muddlers are very important and helps muddle bitters into an ingredient.

Bar Spoon

Lucky for you, I’ve seen several bartenders carrying a bamboo spoon with them, which could work great for bartending. I’ve also seen ice tongs, but it depends on the size of your ice cubes, which vary according to the recipe. I’ve also seen used utensils at a bar, but I’ve always been leery of this idea.

To use your bar spoon, apply a lip to the bottom, and hold it tightly with a forefinger or thumb on the top. This will prevent the spoon from moving around during a pour. If you need to flip a cocktail into the drink, then heat the bar spoon in a flame, which heats it up and burns off any excess heat. Then, you can use it to flip the drink back into the glass.

Mixing Glass

One of the most essential equipment you need for every bar is a mixing glass. It’s one of the most important tools you need to have as part of your collection of bar tools in your home bar. Never underestimate the importance of having this tool in your home bar.

The mixing glass is a versatile tool that can be used for many drinks and cocktails. You can also use it when making drinks with syrups, juices, and other liquids.

Cocktail Recipe Books

With an already-stocked home bar, you’re all set to become the most popular person at the party. But what if you don’t have the time or money to invest in a home bar? How can you convince your friends and family that they should all come over for some drinks? The answer is simple: buy them a cocktail recipe book.

A lot of people will just bring a bottle of something that they picked up at their local liquor store, or they’ll go get a cocktail kit to make their own cocktail, but I think that using a book of ingredients and a book of tools and even having someone else write the recipe makes it a lot easier to really get into the kitchen and learn how to make it at home.

Ice Tumblers

Iced beverages are a cornerstone for any good party. Without them, your event may be doomed from the start. It’s important to keep a few ice tumblers on hand to ensure you have cold drinks on tap throughout the evening, and they can be purchased from a number of reliable retailers.

An ice tray is one of the most important tools a home bartender needs, whether you’re whipping up a number of creative cocktails or you just need to make room for more liquor. These Tumblers come in a variety of sizes and you can buy them online or at many local home stores.

While there are many different types of ice tumblers, the most popular and effective are the ones that simply chill your drink.

A Quality Bottle Opener

This is no cut and dry deal. A bottle opener of any kind is fine, but you’ll want to invest in something with a tamper that will keep bottles sealed. One person suggested a Girard Sharp and Lock bottle opener.

There’s no hard and fast rule on this one. Some bartenders advocate for using what you have on hand, but others said you should get something that has a smooth bottom and will dispense what you want. If you’re using store-bought ingredients, you can try using a Swivel Mate, which is like a Cuisinart for mixers.

As far as the cheapest bottle opener, my favorite is the tool my dad always uses. Girard Sharp and Lock bottle opener, $11.99, Amazon.

Decent Glassware Set

There are so many fun glassware sets out there, but what’s the point if you have to worry about the whole mess breaking mid-brew? We’ve got you covered. Any decent set will cost you less than $50 and will get you the basics.

You’ll need glasses that will keep your cocktails cold, any champagne flutes will allow you to serve them to guests (of legal drinking age, obviously), and the popular bellini glasses are perfect for a Cinco de Mayo fiesta.

Speaking of fiesta, consider bringing your mama along. If you’re serving cocktails, be sure to have a good source of booze. We say get some silverware, a serving tray, and/or dessert plates to go along with your glasses.

Great Bitters Collection

Sometimes, it takes the kind of dry, sharp spices of gin, rum or tequila to put a home bar in overdrive. Cocktail ingredients that are out of your price range include Angostura bitters, Pernod, and Angostura bitters. But what you don’t want to spend your money on are cocktail “soda” mixes, where the alcohol is diluted with water, making them less potent and less tasty.

Save the recipe tricks for mixing your own bar staples, and look no further than The Mezcal Trader’s Guide from Blanco. This collection of recipes includes several recipes for everything from silver tequila to premium jalapeño mezcal. Sterile Glassware is especially important if you have young kids or don’t keep the vodka out of reach.

Ice Molds And Tools

Even the most creative home bartender needs a little assistance in order to make the drinks they dream up. Ice molds and tools are typically the easiest way to help speed up the production process, and many bartenders recommend you use your home ice molds for more than one cocktail.

You can make ice for all your most loved drinks with a home ice molds, like Tom Collins or Daiquiri. “Ice molds are essential for the home bartender. They allow you to make consistent amounts of ice,” says Andy Gaskin, a bartender and author of Cocktail Culture. “I have a bunch of flavors to try so I often use a mason jar to double batch ice, especially for non-standard drinks.