5 Steps to Building the Perfect Home Bar Slideshow
It’s not just about the vodkas, gins, and whiskeys on the bar — it’s much more. "In order to make the leap from spirits on the rocks and highballs, such as gin and tonics and whiskey sodas, to cocktails, you’re going to need to invest in liqueurs and bitters such as Cointreau, Campari, and Chartreuse to up your game," Meehan says.
"Besides a bottle of Angostura bitters, there are too many great recipes to narrow down an essential arsenal," he explains. "As you’re in the process of building your home bar, the most useful bit of advice would be to make a list of your 10 favorite cocktails and see if there is a crossover. If you happen to like Margaritas and Cosmos, Cointreau is essential. If you like Manhattans and Negronis, investing in a high-quality sweet vermouth such as Carpano Antica is advisable. Once you have all the ingredients required to make your top 10 recipes, add another 10 to your repertoire and make a wish list. You can’t make great drinks with cheap ingredients, so invest smartly. Enlisting friends who typically partake in the festivities will help assuage the financial burden."
And for those pinching their pennies? "If you’re on a budget, save the cognac and single malt whiskey cocktails for special occasions and take a marathoners approach to your bar," says Meehan. "Just like building a wine cellar, stocking your home bar will require some vision, especially if you’re on a budget."
Your glassware should reflect you, says Meehan: "Glassware is personal and ephemeral at that. Large or small, thin or thick, decorative or clear, mismatched or uniform — your choice in glassware reflects your personality and taste. My best bit of advice would be to not overlook the importance of your glasses, no matter what style you pick."
"The appearance of a cocktail is the first quality that's evaluated, so choose wisely," he says. "After you’ve done so, remember that a good cocktail party typically claims a stem or two, so make sure you’re willing to part with whatever you use should your glasses number be called."
Flickr/ Dinner Series
These are the five essentials you need for home bar, says Meehan:
- Jiggers: "I even measure the tonic water in my gin and tonics!"
- Stemmed Mixing Glass: "I have a really nice one that’s shaped perfectly."
- Utility Knife: "You need a sharp knife to cut beautiful garnishes."
- Wine Key: "Hard to open bottles without one." (Can’t argue with that.)
- Cocktail Shaker: "If I had to choose one, it would be my vintage two part silver Parisian shaker."
Flickr/ Dinner Series
If you’re already in the process of building up your home bar, start thinking about your bar tools and extras. Says Meehan, "You may not realize it, but there’s a better version (somewhere in the world) for most of the products you know and love. I’ve just recently discovered handmade, limited-edition tiki mugs and commissioned a local craftsman to make me a utility knife. For the material man or woman, there are plenty of opportunities to upgrade your bar down the line."
As Meehan says, your choices in tools, glassware, and recipes are a reflection of your personal taste and style. "In the beginning, you’ll have to make compromises to get your bar up and running (we all did), but eventually, you can start focusing on the details that will distinguish your bar from the rest," he says. "Coasters, decorations such as old bar mirrors, vintage glassware, and old books can be used to help merchandize your set up. In the end, you and your parties will be evaluated by how you worked your bar more than how it’s stocked, so shake what your momma gave you."