It’s hard to say “I can’t live without” these things, because having a fancy cocktail at home is definitely a luxury and a skill set. But if you’re into bringing back the Mad Men-style wet bar, these pieces can definitely qualify as essentials. I’m a big fan of making a cocktail for me and my boyfriend at home in the evening — just one, no Don Draper portions — because you can tailor the style and flavors of your drink for your mood, and treat it like a nice dessert. We usually keep a variety of liquors around including Hendrick’s gin and Basil Hayden’s Bourbon, as well as various citrus fruits, fresh herbs and club soda. Once you’re good on actual ingredients (and the sky is the limit) you have to have your tools of the trade. And while everyone has their own way of doing things — shaken or stirred — these are my 5 favorite home bar essentials to keep around.
King-sized ice cubes. These trays are between 5 and 10 bucks depending on where you find them. They make 2″ square cubes and they’re slow melting for the perfect old-fashioned cocktail.
A crystal decanter. Come on, it’s so ’60s. They’re most easily (and inexpensively) acquired at antique malls and estate sales. Or you could spring for a pricey brand new one.
Another vintage find, there are so many different kinds of bar glasses out there, you’re sure to find some personal to you. I love how the ’50s and ’60s produced so much entertaining-oriented glassware. And hunting for some really unique ones is half the fun.
A fabulous cocktail shaker. Okay, so it doesn’t actually have to be fabulous, as long as it’s utilitarian. But there’s stirring a drink together, and then there’s the satisfying noise of shaking a drink to chilled perfection. I opt for the latter.
A basic book of cocktail recipes. Even after you get the hang of preparing a drink, it’s wise to still look at the proportions on occasion. Everyone has made that overly ambitious drink at home that ends up tasting like crap. Use the measurements detailed in the recipe so you don’t end up pouring the first batch out. Or just stick to two fingers of Bourbon on ice.
I’m happy to see the return of a respectful approach to the cocktail. I’m a big appreciator of the ceremony, from muddling to the last drops on the ice cube, and I’m all about bringing back the wet bar. Now all I need is some white carpeting… zou bisou bisouuu
Do you fix cocktails at home? What are your go-to pieces?