Setup your Home Bar Like a Pro - Part 1

This article originally appeared on Man-gazine

Alright, so you’ve finally moved out of your ratty college apartment. Or, your job has finally given you a raise. So, after you’ve moved into a much bigger place, gotten a new entertainment center for your swanky 50” TV and game consoles, you turn to the one fantasy you have left. (No not THAT one, you freak.) You can now have your very own bar! 

Do you know what you are going to need? Do you know what’s going to be essential? After reading this article, you will. Your bar will be the place all your friends will wanna hang out during the UFC fight. It will also be the place that you’ll take that special lady to impress her with your bar skills. Here are the basics.

FRIDGE—A bar today can’t just have liquor; you’re not Michael Douglass and this ain’t Wall Street. You’re gonna want A front viewing fridge to show off various types of beers you keep on stock. In addition to storing beer, a second mini fridge to store different kinds of mixes and garnishes.

On a budget: try to find a smaller 4 foot fridge with a freezer and enough storage space for everything. – On the higher end: A good kegerator.

ICE MACHINE– Once your bar is hoppin’ with people the number one investment you’ll want is a solid ice maker. There is a four star ice machine for $150 on Amazon. Don’t let the price scare you away. This is a great investment. This mean machine will save you time and the embarrassment of scraping ice inside the freezer wall to put shavings in drinks. (yuck)

On a budget: If you know you’re having guests for the evening get a couple of twenty pound ice bags (Think of this as an opportunity to show off your extremely defined biceps). If you do go down this route, equip yourself with an ice cooler devoted for ice. –On the higher end: An ice ball molder. This fancy contraption is used primarily for drinking Scotch or Whiskey to keep the drink from watering down and staying cold.

Enthusiast Corkscrew via  Wine Folly

Enthusiast Corkscrew via Wine Folly

A GOOD WINE KEY – This is the Swiss army knife in the bartending world. (No wonder they both have cork screws). Always make sure you have a few on hand. Any bartender will tell you wine keys have a way of walking away from your bar. This contraption will open both beer and wine bottles.

NOTE: DON’T BUY A BIG WINE CORKING MACHINE. They’re expensive, take up too much room, and are only good for one thing. Seriously? You can go on YouTube and learn how to open a wine bottle with a shoe (“A shoe? A shoe? Who throws a shoe?”).

A TIN SHAKER SET – One large tin. One small tin. Or a pint glass. It is all you will need. It is the way your father made drinks, and your father’s father made drinks.

NOTE: DO NOT BUY ANY OTHER SHAKER. Never get a shaker made of plastic, because it cracks way too easy. Never get a shaker with its own lid, because they tend to freeze up and nearly impossible to open. And when you open it you’re likely to make a mess. If you lose the cap the shaker becomes useless.

A SIMPLE MUDLER – It will mash up cherries, oranges, and sugars when you feel like having an old fashion.

NOTE: DO NOT BUY A FANCY MUDDLER. Are you at the Kentucky Derby? Are you serving fancy painted ladies wearing extravagant hats? No. You’re mashing up fruit and mint. End of story.

BUY THE HOLY GRAIL OF DRINK RECIPES; THE BARTENDER’S BLACK BOOK – Every professional bartender will have a copy of this on hand. I worked with many great bartenders and all of them still use it as a reference. You aren’t going to find a more accurate book on the art of mixing drinks. Be the mastermind and equip yourself.

NOTE: DO NOT USE A DRINK MIXING PHONE APP – Some aren’t that bad. However, the ones I’ve seen don’t have an extensive menu. In addition,  they generally have their own version of classic drinks, while some of their cocktail recipes are just plain wrong.

The other reason you want a book is spillage. Once you spill something on your book you’ll get sticky pages and a great story. If something spills on your phone or you drop it into something (trust me it will happen), then you’re out a cell phone. So, what would you rather replace: a fifteen dollar book or a five hundred dollar phone?

Buy the book.

A JIGGER – This quintessential item measures exact amounts of liquor. This is a no-brainer tool if you are going to try your hand at craft cocktails. Craft cocktails are all about precision and the exact ingredients that blend into perfection; You can’t “eye-ball” it. Even the best bartenders use jiggers in making cocktails.

PLASTIC POUR SPOUTS – This simple tool gives you a clean accurate pour each and every time. They also prevent messes. Make sure you get a plastic one because metal tends to rust over time.

LONG MIXING SPOON – You will use this more than you think you. It is always a good idea to have one on hand, as well as a strainer.

If you make smart choices, your bar wear will last a long time. You’ll also have the versatility to host everything from a wine tasting to a retro themed Mad Men cocktail party. In part two of our home bar basics we’ll talk about what kind of liquors you’ll need to keep on hand, as well as what liquors you can avoid.