Bars are great and all, but what if I told you you could have your OWN bar in the comfort of your home? No more sticky floors. No more loud drunk strangers. No more barf in the bathroom. No more music you hate. Just you, your pals, and the music you don’t hate. Sounds like heaven, right?
Buckle up, buckaroo. Because this pipe dream is about to become very, very attainable.
It might be intimidating at first glance, but really it’s a lot easier than people think to have a home wet bar. “But how?”, you ask me, intimidated, “Don’t I need equipment? And knowledge on mixed drinks? And booze?” Yes. But listen: All of those home bar essentials are shockingly easy to obtain, and I’m gonna show you how with this extremely helpful article that I have graciously written for you.
Let’s start with the basics. Every cool, hip bar has the basics.
What Every Bar Should Have
Spirits: This may seem obvious, because it is. But what I’m pointing out here is that you need a diverse selection of liquor and beer if you really want to get your home mini bar off the ground. Have something ready for everyone’s diverse tastes - have a friend who only drinks IPAs? Get those. What about your friend that only likes fruity drinks? Have the right liquor for those, too. Having a good mix of clear and brown liquors is essential to giving everyone a good experience.
Ambiance: I cannot tell you how many bars I’ve been to that have the audacity to attack my delicate eyes with flourescent lighting. I didn’t just come from work in fluorescent light to drink in fluorescent light, you horrible bar. Too many drinking establishments ignore how important the atmosphere is to a drinker’s experience. Get some neon lights! Make sure your bar smells clean with some air fresheners! Get some fun kitschy decoration! After you enhance the ambiance, watch how your bar goes from drab to fab in no time.
The Right Tools: Every home bartender needs the right essential bar tools to craft a truly excellent mixologist masterpiece. I’ll get more into the specifics later, but just know that it’s not as daunting (or expensive) as you think to get the perfect home bar set that will make your friends say “I had no idea you were an actual bartender!”. It’s up to you whether or not you want to correct them. I didn’t.
Seating: Don’t get roasted for making people stand (or even, dare I say it, sit on the floor) when you have them over to drink. If you have a bar space in your kitchen, bar stools are absolutely essential. If you don’t have a bar space, no worries. Just make sure you have some comfortable dining chairs to avoid this friendship faux pas.
What Equipment Is Needed for a Bar?
Told you I’d get to the specifics! Here’s a comprehensive list of home bar essential equipment that will allow you to become the master of mixology:
Martini Shaker: Also known as cocktail shakers, these delightful devices mix up beverages and, when used with ice, allow for a nice and chilled beverage before serving. Absolutely essential for anyone who wants to look like they know what they’re doing.
Double-Sided Jigger: To anyone who has ever accidentally (or “accidentally”) poured a little too much vodka into their OJ, this is the solution. Jiggers often come with measurements and are a perfect way to measure out portions.
Mixing Spoons: These are often overlooked, but essential bar tools for mixing and preparing beverages perfectly. The spiral handle on these spoons allows them to create the perfect mixed drink (and they look rad, too!).
Strainer: This is the easiest to use and makes you look like an absolute pro. Use the strainer for mixing fruity beverages that you might want to get the pulp out of, or for straining ice out of your martini shaker.
Mixing Beaker: Mixing beakers are perfect for when you need to muddle and mix up things like mint or sugar for more complicated beverages. I personally use this crystal cocktail mixing glass beaker due to it looking really rad in my kitchen and also because it’s great for blending my favorite drink, The Mint Julep (for when I want to pretend to be Foghorn Leghorn from the Looney Tunes).
You can grab all of these individually, but to save money I highly recommend this Mixology & Craft home bar set, which includes all of the above (minus the beaker). It also includes ice tongs, a bottle opener, and even a super suave cocktail card set to help you out in case you need some hints.
What Mixers Do You Need for a Home Bar?
This question gets more complicated the more I age. When I was in college, “mixers” meant a lukewarm sprite I found in the back seat of my car. Since I’ve gotten older, I’ve discovered that mixers only sometimes mean that. But they also mean other things too, like bitters and ginger beer and sprite I didn’t find in the back of my car.
Here are some ideal mixers to have around your home mini bar:
I also recommend having some bitters, grenadine, and simple syrup around, as well as lime, lemon and orange slices as garnishes to add some extra zazz.
How Do I Make Mixed Drinks?
Now that we have all the home bar essentials you need, it’s actually pretty easy to find resources to learn how to make these mixed drinks. This Mixology & Craft recipe list is super useful - not only does it have every popular mixed drink recipe under the sun, but it provides super thorough and easy-to-understand instructions for exactly how to prepare them!
If you’re still a little worried, no sweat - every home bartender starts somewhere! This helpful YouTube video is perfect for beginning bartenders to be, and gives you basic instructions and tips to wow your guests (and yourself)!
You’ve got everything you need now. Don’t be shy - get out there and get mixing, you bartender you!
Contributing Writer: Aurora Detor