Your 10 Bar Essentials

Above: 10 essentials for your home bar

There is a reason that your lady loves your local bartender and it’s not just because he’s handsome. She loves that he makes the perfect artisanal cocktail especially for her. So here are the tools to look like a pro, and not a tool, when you take her back to your place for a nightcap and make her a great cocktail.

Here are ten essentials for your home bar:

1. Cocktail shaker: a metal shaker with a snug-fitting top covering a strainer which fits onto a bar tin. This is the classic cocktail shaker that is available everywhere. If you want to go classic, go with stainless steel with a silver finish but if you are up for something more stylish, try out a brass or copper finish. (Boston Shaker: This is my preferred shaker; it serves a dual purpose because it is comprised of a 16 oz mixing glass and a larger, flat-bottomed bar tin. If you want to step up your bartending game, get yourself a Boston Shaker, this is the shaker typically used by the professionals. The glass can be used alone for stirring drinks over ice and the two pieces are used together for shaking ingredients like the classic cocktail shaker.)

2. Hawthorne strainer: A strainer is necessary if you are using a Boston shaker because there is not one built in and this is the most common style. The Hawthorne Strainer is a flat-topped, perforated metal device with a continuous coil of wire around its perimeter, which helps keep the strainer in place. This is essential for drinks that are shaken or stirred with ice and then served neat or over new ice. It also the most effective way to separate any fruit or herbs from the liquid.

3. Jigger: Jiggers are metal measuring devices that is compromised of two cones, one on either end. This is what you are supposed to use to measure, not a shot glass like you have been. The larger cone holds 1 1/2 ounces while the smaller cone holds 1 ounce.

4. Bar spoon: This is different from the average spoon with a longer shaft, a spiral handle, and a petite spoon bowl with holes. This type of spoon is essential for stirring or layering drinks as well as tedious tasks like fishing cherries out of a jar.

5. Wooden muddler: Simply, a muddler is thick stick and should be made of wood (don’t go with a stainless steel or plastic). The muddler is used to macerate ingredients in the bottom of a glass. Most often used to mix sugars, bitters, to extract juices and oils from fruit or mint. Muddling is an essential step in making Old-fashioneds or Mojitos.

6. Ice bucket: Ice is essential to all cocktails. Make sure you have a great ice bucket, not to be confused with a champagne bucket which is larger and is designed to keep the whole bottle chilled.

7. Paring knife and a small wooden cutting board: Often forgotten but essential; keep it on the cart. Pick something small and simple for cutting fruit. Wooden cutting boards are best.

8. Double hinged corkscrew: This is the classic corkscrew because of its multi-purpose nature – opens wine and beer.  It may be harder to use than other newer bottle openers but once you get the hang of it, you will never go back.

9. Citrus channel knife: This is technically not even a knife at all but a garnishing tool that has a deep groove to cut away at the skin of any citrus fruit and create beautiful little twists of lemon or lime.

10. Citrus squeezer: Liven up your cocktails with fresh-squeezed juice. You can get squeezers sized for lemons, limes, or oranges, but an orange one will work with any size fruit. This makes life easier than tying to squeeze it by hand, and it keeps your hands from getting sticky.

* BONUS ITEM: Champagne stopper: Your bubbly needs to stay bubbly. A good, tight-sealing champagne stopper will save your bubbles for at least a day or two.

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