• Spirits, Liqueurs, Bitters & Mixes for home bar

    Continuing with the series Home Bar Essentials, let me focus on some of the must spirits in your home bar cabinet. These spirits and liqueurs can be enjoyed standalone and also used as a base spirit to make a great number of cocktails. Spirits are the heart of most cocktails and there are lot many cocktails than there are individual spirits. Each spirit can be mixed with any number of liqueurs, mixers, flavourings and decorations.

    Some of the basic Spirits & Beverages to have in a home bar cabinet.

    Gin: Gin is one of the favourites and a must. It is a clear grain spirit which is further distilled with botanicals such as aromatic herbs and spices. There are a number of excellent gin brands available in the market. A good way is to keep a London Dry Gin which is well suited to make a cocktail. Also, a Dutch gin which has a stronger flavour is a great company in the home bar cabinet. Local gin brands are an excellent choice for making various cocktails right from Gin and tonic to Negroni.

    Vodka: This is a flavourless and a neutral spirit and is a perfect choice for the cocktails as it adds depth. As it goes in the business that is felt but not smelt. It also comes in several flavours as well. A good way is to keep a neutral vodka and along with it may be a lemon or pepper or an espresso flavoured vodka.

    Rum: This spirt is distilled from sugarcane. The dark rum is heavier in flavour than the white rum and both can be part of the home bar cabinet. Though a white rum is a more preferred spirit in cocktails a dark rum can be a good act on punches or a winter drink to warm up and keep the chill-out. You could also look into having a spiced rum.

    Tequila: Tequila is Mexico’s national spirt and made from blue agave. Well, it is always good to have a 100% agave tequila in a home bar. There are different classifications from Blanco, reposado, anejo to extra anejo depending upon the age of the tequila. A mixto tequila which uses no less than 51% agave can be a great substitute to a regular 100% blue agave tequila for making cocktails.

    Whisky: It is an ideal choice to have a blended scotch whisk(e)y along with single malt peated and an unpeated whisky. Though whisky is one of those least used spirits in the cocktails, its great idea to have a Bourbon or a Tennessee whisky which could also be used to make some fabulous spirt forward cocktails such as the Old fashioned, Manhattan, Whisky sour and so on.

    Brandy: Brandy which is also known as burnt wine is distilled from fermented grape juice. Though Cognac and Armagnac are famous brandies of the world coming from the French regions, any good fruity and aromatic brandy in your bar closet is fine.

    Any liqueur preferably an orange liqueur or a triple sec is a good a choice. To add to the home bar is any bitters preferably Angostura bitters or Peychaud’s Bitters.

    Likewise, tonic water, orange, pineapple, strawberry juices along with soda, coke, lemonade, coconut milk, lime cordial etc can be a good choice for the home bar fridge.

  • Tools and Equipment

    Coming back to home bar essentials, I have experienced numerous times that though you may have a multiple of tools in your home bar cabinet, however, when it is time to mix a drink it suddenly appears that you are missing on some important tools in your cabinet. In such a situation you start innovating your tool from other options available in your kitchen or home bar. Well, that is not a bad idea but a few basic tool essentials in your bar will certainly help you in preparing your drink and entertaining your guests more efficiently.

    Let me touch a few must-have tools:

    Shaker: Cocktails are basically two types shaken or stirred. So, if you are looking forward to a shaken drink then a shaker is a great tool to be part of your bar. A shaker helps in mixing drinks such as syrup, liquor, liqueurs, egg yolk, milk, lime juice, fruit juice etc in combination with ice. Three types of shakers commonly used include Boston Shaker, Cobbler Shaker and French Shaker. The Boston Shaker and the Cobbler Shaker are very common. A Boston Shaker is two-piece equipment comes with a mixing glass and a steel jar. In the large size of Boston Shaker, a mixing glass which can hold around 450 ml is smaller in size in comparison to the steel jar which can hold around 800 ml. These can separately be used to stir a drink or used to muddle the ingredients. This type of shaker calls for a strainer to filter the drink from ice or any other residues in a shaker. Likewise, you can buy the medium or smaller sizes as well. A three-piece shaker, on the other hand, comes with a steel jar tapered at both ends, a lid with a built-in strainer and a cap. The choice is yours any of the two types will be a handy tool in your cabinet.

    Mixing glass: A mixing glass is basically used to stir the drink and control the dilution before pouring it in a cocktail glass. This also allows for retaining the texture. You could prefer the durable Pint glass or the delicate Yarai mixing glass.

    Bar Spoon: Though any spoon at home is good for stirring the drink, however, a standard long twisted handled cocktail bar spoon has some good features. Apart from being used for stirring the drink it also comes handy to pour the drink for layering. Further, the other end of the bar spoon has a steel flat metal used for crushing the sugar cube or chipping the ice and also could be used to muddle the ingredients.

    Strainer: A handy tool in the home bar to strain the ice cubes, fruits etc before pouring the drink into a glass. The strainer is of two types the Hawthorne strainer which comes with a handle and two or more prongs. Whereas, the julep strainer comes with a bowl and a handle which is tightly fixed in a mixing glass or a shaker at a definite angle to allow the clear drink to pass through the holes and avoid the ice. It is a good idea to have a Haw Thorne strainer

    Jigger: Any drink without knowing the measure will either be more strong or dilute. Though experts know the exact pour directly from the bottle, however, a good practice to start with is to use a jigger. So, having a jigger in your toolbox is very vital. A jigger is a shot with two-sided cocktail measuring cups. The sides may measure 30 ml and 45 ml or 30 ml and 60 ml and in other ratios.

    Muddler: Another essential bar tool is a muddler which is used to smash and mix drink ingredients. The muddler is used to make some of the famous cocktails such as mojito, caipirinha. A nice wooden muddler is recommended.

    Icebox: Ice probably is the most important ingredient for the preparation of cocktails. It is good to have an icebox at the bar table so that you need not go to and fro to fetch ice cubes from the refrigerator.

    Juicer Blender: An electrical appliance such as a juicer-blender serves good to make fruit-based drinks. A quick blending of different ingredients helps in making wonderful cocktails. Thus, a juicer-blender is a must-have in the home bar.

    Apart, from these, there are many other tool and equipment that could be added over time.

  • Essential Glassware for home bar

    Once the home bar cabinet is in place, the next big challenge is to gather tools, equipment, beverages and most importantly stemware or the glassware.


    Well, today in my post I will talk on the main glasses that you could buy for your home bar. You may use any number of different glasses for cocktails or serving a drink and there is absolutely nothing wrong. There aren’t any rules, other than a specific one that the longer the drink the taller the glass.


    My take on it is one need not stock dozens of different types of glasses at one go. It is a good idea to decide to buy at the start a few essential types and styles of glasses. A glass is vital to the outcome of a good cocktail or a spirt and it should be visually appealing. For example, stem glasses allow the drinker to hold it without warming the drink, while one with straight sides is best for showing off colours and layers of colour.


    Some of the essential glassware and personally my favourites to add to the bar cabinet are listed below:


    Martini: A Martini glass is by far the most popular cocktail glass which is also commonly seen in movies and snaps. It has a stem and an inverted bowl which gives it a V shape and is popularly used for straight-up drinks. Some of the regular cocktails which get served in a Martini glass are – Martini, Gimlet, Grasshopper, Cosmopolitan and so on.


    Flute: Any festive occasion or a celebration calls for a bottle of sparkling wine or a bottle of champagne and there is nothing better than a flute glass to serve it. For taste, champagne and sparkling wines are best served in slim flutes which aid to keep it cool and retain the bubbles and prolong the fizz. Alternatively, at a Champagne Saucer could also be added.


    High Ball: This is tall cylindrical, straight-sided, tall tumbler used for long cocktails like fruit punches and some shooters. Alternatively, you could have the Tom Collins glass which is almost similar to High ball glass but just a little taller. These glasses are good for gin and tonic, vodka and soda, whiskey and ginger ale. Generally, these house around 12oz that is roughly 850 ml.


    Low Ball: This glass is kind of a shorter tumbler and wide lowball that holds around 200 ml of fluid. These glasses are also sometimes called the old fashioned or rocks glass. This is used to serve drinks such as Scotch and Bourbon. Cocktails like Old Fashioned, God Father, are some of the popular drinks served in low ball glasses along with spirit-forward drinks.


    Margarita: The sound of Margarita triggers Tequila the spirit from the land of Mexico. Margarita glass gets its name from the popular tequila-based drink Margarita. It is a variant of a cocktail glass or champagne coupe with a wide rim & popularly works well with frozen margaritas and seafood cocktails. It is a wonderful glass to have in the home bar.


    Of course, other glasses like the Pilsner and Pint glass for beer, Hurricane glass for long tropical drinks, Wines glasses for the White and the Red Wines, Sherry glass, Snifter for Brandy or Cognac, could also be added to a bar cabinet to have a wider choice.

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