If you're determined to upgrade your home bar to reflect your commitment to serious drink-making in 2015, you'll find your decision a lot easier to pull off than outfitting a kitchen to become a serious chef. First, you won't need much bar equipment to be fully stocked in basic bar tools. Second, the necessary tools don't take up much space, and unless you're investing in gold-plated knives or crystal martini shakers, it doesn't cost much for these ten items every aspiring mixologist should have.
1. Mixing Glass A glass martini shaker, Boston shaker, pint glass, or plain tall water glass is great to have on hand for craft-cocktail creations. It's important to be able to see the ingredients you're using and visually gauge when it's time to quit muddling or adding liquids. You won't want to do this part of the cocktail process and then cram ice cubes in there too because there won't be space for the ice to move around for maximum chilling and the ice will begin to dilute the drink. By having this second mixing glass on hand, you can properly strain the liquid into the martini shaker and then add the ice. It's also nice for your friends to see your process as you create their drinks. Remember the thrill of watching your car go though the car wash as a kid? Same thing.
2. Martini Shaker After the fresh fruit, herbs, or spices have soaked in the spirits and liqueurs in the mixing glass, you'll strain the liquid into a martini shaker filled with ice. This is where the proper mixing and chilling will take place.
3. Cocktail Strainer Long before mixology tools were marketed, bartenders and craft mixologists improvised with tightly wired strainers like confectioner's sifters, conical strainers, or materials like cheese cloth or linen napkins. We'd recommend a strainer that's small enough the be nestled in the mouth of a pint glass or martini shaker without falling in. You'll use it a lot.
4. Muddler The handle of a table knife, the tip of a large wooden spoon, or your own fist can easily function as an impromptu muddler. But there's something superior about a muddler with teeth. It's like a meat hammer expect that it fits in narrow shakers and won't amputate one of your digits if you start punching those strawberries a little too hard. But consider buying two at once if you think you'll be using it a lot. We've found that they don't last long with heavy use. Ours died right before this photo: enter the wooden spatula spoon thing.
5. Small Knife with a Cover The vast majority of cocktails involve a lime or lemon wedge, twist, peel, or wheel. Nothing is more frustrating or laborious than operating with a dull piece of cutlery. Maintain the sharpness of your knife and get one with a cover. The cover will help to remind you that this knife is off-limits for general kitchen use, and that it's safe to transport when your friends demand you come over to make some of your award-wining drinks.
6. 2-Ounce Measuring Cup You can find one of these at a chef''s store for less than two dollars, yet it will become one of your most valuable tools for making drinks. Look for one that has teaspoon measurements on one side and quarter-ounce measurements on the other.
7. Silicone Ice Cube Trays You probably already own a set of these but if you don't, your ice is due for an upgrade. It's amazing to think that a symmetrical ice cube could transform the aesthetics of a drink so quickly but it does! Buy a few different sizes.
8. Clear Plastic Toothpicks These 3-inch toothpicks are long enough to be perfectly balanced across the rim of the glass without falling in while also supporting five threaded raspberries. And because they're clear, they'll never interfere with the beauty of your beverage.
10. Stack of Bar Towels We go through these like crazy (cocktail making can get messy) and feel good about ourselves because we're not using paper towels. Spread one under your cutting board when you're slicing citrus to protect your countertops, use them for straining, fold ice in them to smash for crushed ice drinks, or just throw one over your shoulder to look cool. They have stacks and stacks at HomeGoods if you've got one of those stores in your neighborhood.
We're excited about this new year and look forward to hearing about the recipes you make for your friends and family at home. Happy New Year!