One of the best parts of owning a beautiful home is entertaining your guests. Sure, you’re going to want to hit the town too, but mixing a lovely cocktail to start the night is always appreciated. And while you can certainly throw some ingredients into a glass and mix it with a spoon, having the more elevated tools to work with will make the process extra fun! It will also result in you gaining a reputation as the best amateur bartender around! So, let’s talk bar tools and cabinet staples … this is what you need for ultimate mixology at home.
The Two Must-Haves
If you ask us, a jigger and a shaker are total essentials! Even if you don’t plan to pick up everything we recommend today, you should at least have this duo on hand. A jigger enables you to measure accurately, which is key to a great-tasting cocktail. And a shaker does a much better job than a spoon—trust us!
Other Tools to Consider
For those who want to step their game up further, we have a full list of helpful tools to purchase for mixology at home!
- A strainer to ensure fruits and herbs don’t go into your glass when you don’t want them to
- A bar spoon for layer cocktails in which you wouldn’t use a shaker
- A muddler to release the flavor of herbs
- A citrus juicer, because fresh is always best
- A channel knife to grab those gorgeous spirals of lemon and orange for garnishing
If you’re feeling a tad overwhelmed, think about purchasing a kit for mixology at home. While there are many different ones that include varying combinations of the above tools, we like Williams Sonoma’s options!
Spirits, Liqueurs, and Mixers You Should Stock
Before we get into this list, we do want to give one overarching tip: The secret to preparing for mixology at home is really knowing what you and your guests like to drink. We’re going to give you a good generalized list of spirits and mixers you might often need, but if you’re a bunch of gin lovers, it might make more sense to keep 10 unique varieties of gin than anything else! Nonetheless, here are our short lists …
Stock These Spirits
- One staple vodka and a few flavored ones you personally prefer
- A few different gins (since this has so much variety, we recommend at least two, but if you love exploring gins, take our above advice!)
- Any tequila you like, but blanco tends to be the most versailte for margaritas, etc.
- Two rums: one light for mixing (think daiquiris and mojitos) and another dark or spiced
- J.J. Corry Irish whiskey (there is a ton of variety in this category; J.J. Corry is our fav, but you pick yours!)
- A basic brandy for those vintage recipes you long to test out
Stock These Liqueurs
Once you’ve got those staples in tow, add in some of the mixers you’ll lean on for those fun and fancy recipes! Our main tip here is to think carefully about the flavors you like and don’t like. If you hate mint, you’re probably never going to utilize the crème de menthe.
- Dry and sweet vermouth
- Irish cream liqueur
- Coffee liqueur
- Orange liqueur
- Crème de menthe
- Maraschino liqueur
Stock These Mixers
These are the ingredients we often tend to forget! For those of us who don’t normally drink any of the below beverages, remembering to grab them for cocktail making can be difficult. This is especially true because most of them expire relatively quickly. Because of that, you’re probably going to pick these up on a case-by-case basis. Still, here are some staples to keep in mind for mixology at home!
- Lemon and lime juice and/or fresh lemons and limes to squeeze
- Orange juice
- Cranberry juice
- Grapefruit juice
- Pineapple juice
- Tomato juice
- Club soda
- Tonic water
- Ginger ale
- Cola and diet cola
- Lemon-lime soda
Another tip: Buy the mini cans of soda—they’re perfectly portioned for cocktails!
Alongside those mixers, there are a few extra ingredients you could consider …
- Simple syrup
- Sour mix
- Milk or cream
- Tabasco or worcestershire sauce
Where to Keep It
If you have a built-in bar with storage, that will be the perfect spot for all of these ingredients to live! A mini fridge also makes a great addition, to keep the things that need refrigerated. If you don’t have that designated area, consider dedicating a kitchen cabinet and section of the fridge to all the fixings.
We hope this blog post helps you stock the perfect bar! And if you read it with zeal because you love a good libation, we think our J.J. Corry homes might be your dream.