Welcome to the second post exploring how you can build a great home bar! In part one, we focused primarily on spirits and mixers – in part two, we’ll dive in to the tools you need to make magic in your own home bar set up.
My first and most important tip is to find bar tools that you’re comfortable with. Don’t just get a bar tool that someone tells you is awesome, because if it doesn’t fit your hand or your needs, you’re not going to use it. They don’t need to be fancy, they don’t need to be expensive. My favorite jigger is the OXO brand jigger that you can buy pretty much anywhere. I love it! You probably won’t see an actual bar using it – and I don’t really care. It’s the best one for me, and I think it cost me about $6. You just need to be able to use the tools, so the best options will be the ones that suit you.
In building out your arsenal of bar tools, a lot will depend on what you want in your cocktails. If you’re someone who wants a lot of fruit zest or even peels, you should probably look at getting tools that are designed to zest the fruit or even do a nice little spiral. I’ve seen people try to zest with a fork, which actually does seem to work pretty well – it’s not as sharp, so it can’t go too deep – but for me, I’m not very handy with a knife, so any utensil I can get that helps me cut anything thinly is high on my list.
Get a shaker, but get the type of shaker you like. There’s the Boston shaker, which looks like two pint glasses. (That’s my preferred style of shaker.) One of them is usually stainless, the other is usually glass. The glass fits inside the stainless, and you shake them, and you can pull them apart. The strainer fits easily into it. The more old-fashioned-looking shakers have a top with a built-in strainer – they look amazing, but I can never get the top off! I’ve heard other people say the same thing – because it gets so cold and the whole thing is stainless, the top just gets stuck and you can’t open it to empty it and make the next cocktail. They also just always leak on me! So the Boston shaker is my preference.
A strainer is another tool that is really inexpensive and would be a nice addition. They are designed to fit into the top of a shaker, holding back your ice, your fruit, so that when you pour it into a glass, you can either do straight up and not have to worry about ice, or you can at least be pouring it over fresh ice. Those are neat because if you’re doing egg white drinks, you can actually take the spring off the strainer, and throw it in the shaker to help froth up the egg.
Incidentally, I love egg white cocktails! Whenever I see one on a cocktail menu, that’s always what I’m going to try. If you’re feeling adventurous and want to make one, start with a whiskey sour, which traditionally has egg white in it. A good whiskey sour will change your life! What I love about the egg white is that it makes the cocktail creamy and adds a nice foamy consistency to it. And if you’ve got the spring from your strainer, throw it in there and it’ll help you get that perfect froth!
The bottom line is, you should have tools on hand that make it simple for you to craft the cocktails you like to drink. Just like with your spirits, they should make sense for your budget and your daily bartending needs. Just because something seems fancy doesn’t mean it will have utility for you – and any of these tools can elevate your game.