Friday means cocktails, yes? I’ve always been a wine gal, but as we’ve started to collect different kinds of liquor and toys for our at-home bar, my eyes were opened to the creative world of cocktails. And, naturally, that means I’m all about having a great place to mix them.
So, of course, I figured I would give you a full at-home bar guide that you can refer to! You’re going to want to save this link for later so you can use this guide as you continue to collect goodies for your at-home bar.
In this post, I’m going to walk you through all the different facets of the bar we have in our Brooklyn apartment. I’ll give you links for our cart, tell you the kinds of liquor you’ll need to get started, the drinking glasses we use, and all the tools we have to create beautifully crafted cocktails.
First, let’s talk about the cart.
The bar cart
So the cart we use for our bar is from Ikea. Originally we were using it as extra counter space in our studio apartment, but now that we have a bit more space in our current home, it transformed into our bar cart. Which makes sense, given that there’s a wine rack on the first shelf.
Unlike most bar carts you’ll find on the market, this one has a drawer where we can store all of our bar tools. Personally, I like having everything in one place when mixing drinks or opening a bottle of wine. Especially since our cart sits in the living room and is pretty far from our kitchen.
Some *cough* my husband *cough* would say that our bar cart is not stocked enough to write a post on it. But honestly, I beg to differ. You don’t need to have a huge liquor collection in order to start an at-home bar. Let’s start you with the basics—right here, right now!
Here’s some of the liquor we have, and what I recommend starting out your collection with.
- Tequila, 100% blue agave. I like using Hornitos.
- Cointreau or Triple Sec. For those margaritas!
- Vodka. Not my fave, but if you want a Moscow Mule, you’ll want it. Also, get the good stuff, it will make a difference. Titos is a great brand to look out for.
- Bourbon. We have a lot of kinds of bourbon on our shelf (guilty!) If you can get it, I highly recommend Van Brunt. Woodford Reserve is a great brand to get if you’re at a generic liquor store.
- Gin. I currently have this Drumshando Gunpowder Irish Gin, and it’s pretty decent! Another amazing gin to snag would be Hendrick’s. My parents are obsessed.
- Rum. We sadly don’t have any (how? need to change that) so I asked a bartender friend what rum he recommends and he says you should definitely get Flor de Caña.
- Campari. If you’re one that likes negronis or Aperol spritz, snag a bottle of Campari. Those typically aren’t my go-to drinks of choice, but it’s good to have if you’re looking to experiment with mixing fancy cocktails.
Now obviously the liquor isn’t the only important part of your bar! Unless you want to drink straight bourbon, of course. There are a few other mixers that you’re going to want to have on hand for when you’re mixing up cocktails at home.
- Simple syrup: You can either make your own or buy it! I’m a huge fan of Swoon, a monk-fruit based Simple Syrup that has zero sugar. It does have a super sweet taste, which means you won’t use a lot of it. AKA, it’s going to last you a long time.
- Bitters: You’ll find yourself stumbling upon cocktail recipes that require bitters, so do yourself the favor and snag a bottle. We have a bottle of ANGOSTURA aromatic bitters.
- Blue agave: This is especially important for your these frozen strawberry margaritas.
- Lime juice: While a fresh-squeezed citrus fruit really is the way to go for drinks (especially for this orange whiskey sour), you’re going to have to buy a lot of limes to make a margarita. This is a juice that’s well worth having in the fridge since lime juice is a pretty typical ingredient in cocktails. I personally have Santa Cruz Organic in the fridge right now, but Nellie & Joe Key West Lime Juice is also a great option.
Mixing a cocktail at home is kind of an art, and you’re going to need the right tools to make mixed drink magic. While there are a lot of items listed here, I would say the most important ones to grab are a cocktail shaker, jigger, and wine corkscrew. The rest you can probably be fine without, but honestly, why not stock up and make your cocktail making easier?
- Cocktail shaker: Get one with a built-in strainer, that way you don’t have to spend on two separate items! I love using my mason jar cocktail shaker.
- Jigger: Sure you could try to measure out the ounces with your measuring spoons. But, why not just make it easier for yourself and get a jigger that can just do the math for you? Plus, you’ll look like a bartender when you use it. Here’s the jigger we use.
- Wine corkscrew: To open up wine—duh! I like having one that also has the beer opener on top.
- Stirring beaker: Some drinks should not be shaken up, but should be stirred instead. A special stirring beaker for these types of drinks is helpful to have on hand.
- Stirring spoons: In a similar fashion, having a tall stirring spoon your drinks is helpful.
- Small ice cube molds: Small molds are helpful to have when you’re mixing drinks in your shaker, or working with cocktails like margaritas.
- Large ice cube molds: For those who like pouring whiskey over ice, a large ice cube mold is the way to go.
- Ice bucket: An ice bucket is helpful to have when you have guests over, or simply to chill a glass of sparkling wine at home. Because we fancy, yo.
- Bar mat: This is great for picking up all the messes you’ll make while mixing a drink. I can’t even tell you how many times we ended up with a sticky table after mixing drinks before we got this bar mat.
- Peeler: Because sometimes the cocktail calls for a twisted orange peel, so why would you skimp on being fancy at home? Grab one here.
- Muddler: This is a tool we actually still need to get, but some cocktail recipes will cause for muddling certain types of produce for your drink.
In my opinion, there are two types of glasses you’re really going to need: wine glasses and tumblers. These two are pretty versatile when it comes to mixing a drink, so I would say these are your first go-to for stocking up on cocktail glasses. I’m even guessing to bet you already have some.
But if you’re looking to get even more glasses, here are a few I reccomend having for those special occasion—including some wine glasses and tumblers you can buy.
- Wine glasses: While I know there are different types of glasses for red and white wine, keep it simple and buy some all-purpose ones that will work for anything—like this set of 12 wine glasses.
- Tumblers: Tumblers are honestly versatile for all kinds of cocktails, and I’m especially loving this set of four you can snag.
- Champagne glasses: Because you’ll want some champagne glasses for all those special occasions—like moving into a new apartment or getting that new job! Once you have them, make heavenly lemonade.
- Mule mugs: You know, I’ve never understood why Moscow mules need to be in a copper mug, but I’ll never deny how cute they are to sip out of. So grab yourself a set—like this one that comes with a free jigger!
- Shot glasses: I found these beautiful shot glasses at a stoop sale in Brooklyn, and they make taking shots like a whole lot fancier than it actually feels. So get yourself some fancy shot glasses, too.
- Pitcher: You’ll want a pitcher for batch cocktails, like when you make sangria!
- Brandy glasses: Another thrift store find! We don’t really ever have brandy, so we use these glasses for other types of drinks.
- Coupes and Martini glasses: These are two types of glasses we don’t have, but if you want to complete your collection, here’s a set of coupes and a set of martini glasses for ya.
Alright, time to make a drink!
Here’s a full list of my cocktail recipes on the blog. I’ll continue to update this as time goes on. I hope you enjoy mixing these drinks in your now fully stocked at-home bar!
- Classic Margaritas
- Frozen Strawberry Margaritas
- Orange Whiskey Sour
- Sparkling Peach Sangria
- Heavenly Lemonade
Photos edited with Cocktail Hour in the Bright Brunch Lightroom Presets.