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How to Set Up a Good Home Bar

With lockdowns and social distancing happening all over the planet, having a well-stocked home bar has never seemed like such a priority before. Let's take a look at some of the basics you should have at hand to recapture the vibe of your local cocktail bar, right there in your living room.

EQUIPMENT

Glasses are your logical first step. You can cover most of the bases with four to six each of short glasses, tall glasses, and stems. Afterwards, if you want to have more options, you can bring in shot glasses, balloons, coupes, and anything else you want to have at hand, but those three options should see you through your basic setup.

Moving onto cocktail-making equipment, a double shaker set and mixing glass are your basic preparatory tools. A bar spoon, a strainer, and a muddler complete the collection. Make sure that the mixing glass you choose is solid enough to withstand stirring of a vigorous nature. You might also want to invest in a jigger, especially if you have a tendency towards being heavy-handed!

Last but absolutely not least, you need a good ice-cube tray. Good ice is the unspoken hero of good cocktail making. Without it, even the best-laid plans can go swiftly awry.

ALCOHOLS

Your six basic alcohol groups are as follows: Vodka, gin, tequila, whiskey, rum, and liqueurs.

Having at least one product from each group is a good baseline – however, this is your bar, and you get to choose what goes into it. You want to build a collection of bourbons and ryes? Go for it! Absolutely hate whisky, but you're a tequila fan? Great! Skip the Scotch, and get yourself a selection of silvers and reposados. It's up to you!

When you're building up your staple liqueur collection, look for basics like triple secs, amarettos, and vermouths. A rum collection should start with a unaged white rum and an aged one. By playing around with different flavour combinations, you can invent your own new drinks and take it from there.

SWEETENERS, BITTERS, MIXERS & GARNISHES

Your absolute basics here are simple syrup (make your own easily and cheaply – check out our recipe), and a bottle of bitters (such as Angostura bitters). Add grenadine and sour mix to this collection, and you have the start of an eclectic bar.

When it comes to juices and sodas, choose what you like! If you're going to be making classic cocktails, you'll cover most standards with orange juice, cranberry juice, tomato juice, pineapple juice, and a basket of fresh limes. You can also add club soda, tonic water, and a small collection of basic sodas to round it out.

To add the cherry on the top (hehe), build yourself a collection of garnishes. Maraschino cherries, dehydrated citrus fruits, star anise, cinnamon sticks – all of these things keep well and add a touch of style and flourish to your creations.

TIME TO PLAY!

There you have it. With all the basics covered, now you can start experimenting, and discovering new drinks and recipes that you truly love.

Get yourself a blender for those frozen Margaritas and tropical Piña Coladas. Go on a voyage of rare mezcal discovery. Start freezing edible flowers into your ice cubes and become a floral cocktail artist, with daisies appearing on the surface of your drinks as the ice melts. The world of mixology is your oyster!