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These Are The 18 Essentials You Need To Elevate Your Home Bar

Home Bar Essentials 01 Hero

In the hands of a good bartender, a few basic tools and ingredients can result in a spectacular cocktail. Of course, if you’re out at a bar, that can also mean even the most basic of drinks can be pretty pricey — especially with top-shelf liquor and fresh ingredients. As it turns out, the price drops pretty drastically if you’re making the cocktails yourself in the comfort of your own home.

If you want to take advantage of that steep decline in cash spent, you’re going to need to outfit your kitchen with a number of necessities. That includes (of course) a collection of spirits, glassware, and a complement of bartending tools. Lucky for you, we’ve actually already gone to the trouble of rounding up the best pieces of bartending gear that can transform any kitchen, big or small, into a fully-equipped bar. The following list is comprised of the best home bar essentials.

Best Home Bar Essentials

How To Build Out Your Home Bar

Liquor/Mixers: All the tools and glassware in the world won’t mean a thing without actual liquid to use them with. Of course, you may already have your favorite spirit and/or drink in mind, but the best bars have a good selection, especially when company arrives.

Tools: It’s a pretty easy prospect to pour some liquor and mixer into a glass and stir, but if you really want to make the most of your home bar, you’ll need a little more to get the job done right. The best barware should round out any home bar in a manner that even the most seasoned bartenders will be happy with — should they ever find themselves in the comfort of your home.

Glassware: The vessel you consume your beverage in can be of great importance, especially when you’re getting into mixed drinks. Make sure you have at least a few essential glasses in your home bar.

Display: While they can be fairly pricey, a quality display is worth the money – not to mention crucial once you’ve gotten all your spirits, tools, and glassware.

How We Chose Our Picks

We fancy ourselves liquor fans and so we’ve selected for you the products that we love using in our own home bars. While many of these products below serve utilitarian purposes, some of them just look fantastic on a bar cart. We’ve tried to blend form and function with the following picks.

Essential Spirits

Essential Spirits
Why It Made the Cut
  • These are three versatile spirits that are still spectacular enough to be sipped neat.

Best Spirits: If you’re going to be setting up a home bar, you should probably start with the most essential piece: the alcohol you’ll be using to make drinks. While there are a lot of options out there, the following four are some of our favorites, especially if you want to craft some classic handmade cocktails. For Gin cocktails — like a Gin Fizz, Negroni, Gimlet, and Gin Martini — you can’t go wrong with Hendrick’s. When an Old Fashioned, Sazerac, or a Whiskey Sour sounds appealing, we’ve got Maker’s Mark No.46. And, last but not least, for lovers of Margaritas, Palomas, and Bloody Marias, there’s Casamigos Tequila Anejo.

Maker’s Mark No.46
ABV: 45%
Type: Wheated Bourbon

Casamigos Anejo
ABV: 40%
Type: Anejo Tequila

Hendrick’s Gin
Type: New World Gin

OXO 11244200 Good Grips Citrus Peeler

Why It Made the Cut
  • Perfect for garnishing your cocktails, this OXO peeler sports a dual-purpose blade and an ergonomic handle.

Best Citrus Peeler: Especially for those hot summer days, citrus is an essential ingredient in many cocktails. And almost every part of these fruits can be used in bartending — the fruit juice and pulp itself as drink ingredients and the peels as a garnish. But to get to either of them, you’ll need a reliable peeler like this one from OXO. It boasts a durable stainless steel dual-purpose blade — which can peel and zest — alongside an ergonomic handle. Best of all: it’s dishwasher safe.

Blade Material: Stainless steel
Dishwasher Safe?: Yes

Tovolo Sphere Ice Molds

Why It Made the Cut
  • These large ice molds from Tovolo produce slow-melting ice that are easy to deploy.

Best Ice Molds: There was a time when people thought that whiskey stones were the end-all-be-all of drink cooling options. Unfortunately, they turned out to be more of a disappointment than anything else. Thankfully, ice is still as trusty as ever — especially large ice spheres, which melt slower than the crushed or cubed variety and, therefore, dilute your drinks more slowly. And you can make your own in your freezer with the Tovolo Sphere Ice Molds you see here.

Material: Silicone
Dishwasher Safe?: Yes

Viski Double Summit Makoto Jigger

Viski Double Summit Makoto Jigger
Why It Made the Cut
  • Viski’s sleek-looking jigger has markers all the way up to 2oz.

Best Jigger: Jiggers are one of the most essential bartending tools because they allow you to make quick, accurate measurements of any liquid you’re adding to your drinks. And most come in standard sizes, which is handy and convenient. This particular Japanese-made version is double-sided, has measurements for 0.5, 0.75, 1, 1.5, and 2 ounces, and is available in four handsome colorways — although, we’re partial to the gunmetal black you see here.

Material: Stainless Steel
Size: 0.5oz, 0.75oz, 1oz, 1.5oz, 2oz

SOLEADER Egg Separator

Why It Made the Cut
  • Elevate your whiskey sours with egg whites, obtained from this handy device.

Best Egg Separator: A whiskey sour simply isn’t complete without egg whites. Unfortunately, separating yolks from whites can be frustrating to do in the comfort of your own home — or rather it would be if you didn’t own an egg separator like the one you see here. This simple device can be set atop your drinkware of choice and all you have to do is crack an egg over it and the yolk will stay in the strainer while the white makes its way into your glass. It’s handy, simple, and takes the frustration out of making one of the best whiskey drinks around.

Material: Stainless Steel
Dishwasher Safe?: Yes

Twisted Alchemy Demerara Syrup

Twisted Alchemy Rich Demerara Syrup
Why It Made the Cut
  • TA’s rich demerara syrup is made from curated sugar cane from Belize and helps make spectacular cocktails.

Best Syrup: When you get into mixed drinks, the most difficult thing to keep stocked is your syrup selection. However, good syrup doesn’t have to be made from home, and sometimes buying from a quality brand is worth the extra dollars spent. Twisted Alchemy has a fine selection of syrups and cold-pressed juices, along with other concoctions, tailor-made for mixology. When making cocktails at home, opt out of traditional simple syrup and try some rich demerara syrup, which uses raw sugar cane for more character in your old-fashioned or tiki drink. The cane sugar here is curated and sourced from Belize before getting made into syrup and packed into this 750mL bottle, which makes around 100 old-fashioneds.

Volume: 750mL
# of Drinks Made: ~100 old-fashioneds

OXO 3110200 Steel Double Lever Waiter’s Corkscrew

Why It Made the Cut
  • A corkscrew is a must-have on any bar and this pick from OXO is sturdy and lightweight.

Best Corkscrew: OXO’s Steel Double Lever Waiter’s Corkscrew — better known as a wine key — is an absolute essential bar tool that everyone should own, as it gives users the ability to remove corks and foil from wine bottles, bottle caps from beer bottles, and it collapses down to a handy format that fits nicely in a pocket or drawer. It’s not as fancy, perhaps, as larger lever corkscrews, but it’s also less cumbersome and probably more reliable.

Material: Stainless Steel
Length: 5.5″

Barsentials Cocktail Strainer Set

Why It Made the Cut
  • This stainless steel set of strainers will help you maximize your cocktail’s flavor.

Best Strainer Set: Put simply: different drinks require different strainers and if you think you can get away with using only one kind for everything, you’re doing yourself and your beverages a disservice. Thankfully, if you pick up this Cocktail Strainer Set, you’ll have all your bases covered from gimlets to margaritas and everything in between. They’re all made from sturdy 304 stainless steel and they come with a handy bar spoon as an added bonus.

Material: 304 Stainless Steel
Dishwasher Safe?: Yes

Cocktail Codex: Fundamentals, Formulas, Evolutions

Why It Made the Cut
  • Those wanting to eventually be able to create their own cocktails with a scientific approach to the art.

Best Cocktail Book: Even the best bartenders in the world still need a refresher here and there when it comes to remembering cocktail recipes. Luckily, some of those bartenders — specifically the ones behind Death & Co, the famed Manhattan craft cocktail bar — wrote down their best recipes in the Cocktail Codex. This book is loaded from cover to cover with recipes that are so good, they garnered the tome a James Beard award. If you’re only going to buy one cocktail recipe book, make it this one.

Author: Alex Day, David Kaplan, & Nick Fauchald
Publisher: Ten Speed Press
Release Date: October 2018
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 320

Zulay Stainless Steel Juicer

Why It Made the Cut
  • This steel hand-juicer from Zulay is easy to squeeze and helps you get out every last drop of juice.

Best Hand Juicer: As previously mentioned, citrus is an integral part of many a cocktail recipe. Of course, if you really want to get the most out of your fruit — waste not, want not — you should get your hands on the Zulay Stainless Steel Juicer. It will save your hands from some pain and will allow you to extract every last drop of precious juice from just about any fruit you’d want in a cocktail.

Material: Stainless Steel
Dishwasher Safe?: Yes

BrüMate Shaker

Why It Made the Cut
  • Triple-wall insulated so your hands don’t get cold, this cobbler shaker from BruMate is leakproof and has a see-through side strip for measuring..

Best Shaker: James Bond takes his martinis shaken, not stirred — and there’s a very good reason for that. You see, by shaking the ingredients with ice, it incorporates them better and even serves to cool the drink faster. That also means less dilution. And there’s no better way to make that happen than with a cocktail shaker — like this one from BrüMate. It’s leakproof, shatterproof, can hold up to 20oz of liquid, and won’t leave a weird metallic taste in your drinks.

Type: Cobbler
Material: Triple-Wall Stainless Steel
Size: 20oz

W&P Bartender’s Knife

Why It Made the Cut
  • This classy bar knife from W&P looks great and helps you add some zest to your drink.

Best Bar Knife: In the warm summer months, some folks prefer to have their beer with lime or orange, depending on the variety. Similarly, Mai Tais sometimes come with a slice of pineapple and Old Fashioneds with a sliver of orange peel. But you’re going to have a hard time adding any of those to your cocktails if you don’t have the W&P Bartender’s Knife. At 7″ and including a sharpening stone, this is an essential you won’t want to skip.

Blade Material: Alloy Steel
Handle Material: Polished Hardwood and Brass
Length: 7″
Dishwasher Safe?: No

Bitters “Triple Play” Variety 3-Pack

Why It Made the Cut
  • Cover all your grounds with this three-piece of heavy-hitters from the world of bitters.

Best Bitters: Without a doubt — especially for those who love whiskey drinks — a collection of cocktail bitters is an absolute must-have for any home bar. In fact, you can’t even make an Old Fashioned without bitters. The same can be said for a Manhattan, Sazerac, and more. In fact, whiskey drinks are only a fraction of the recipes that call for this aromatic, botanical, alcohol-based flavoring agent. There are also a wide variety of types — most commonly aromatic and orange, but it can be made with a wide variety of flavor profiles including those that are sweet, spicy, etc. If you’re just dipping your toes in, however, this trio should cover the essentials.

Tasting Notes: Orange, cinnamon, cloves

Tasting Notes: Licorice, cherry, orange

Region:Trinidad and Tobago
Tasting Notes: Vanilla, spice, fruit

Craighill Ripple Bottle Opener

Craighill Ripple Bottle Opener
Why It Made the Cut
  • Craighill’s bottle opener may be more form than function but you won’t be complaining once the compliments start coming in.

Best Bottle Opener: As convenient as they are, wall-mounted and magnetic bottle openers don’t exactly scream “classy” and “grown-up.” So skip the bachelor pad staple and opt for something with a bit more refinement — like the Craighill Ripple Bottle Opener you see before you. It’s crafted from solid stainless steel, available in silver or black, has an ergonomic and eye-pleasing design, it’s made in the USA, and it can be comfortably stashed in your silverware drawer or left on a desktop. Honestly, it’s beautiful enough that you may want to keep it out on display.

Material: Stainless Steel
Length: 7″

Über Bar Tools ProCrush Muddler

Uber Bar Tools ProCrush Muddler
Why It Made the Cut
  • Open up your bartending range with this heavy-duty muddler with an ergonomic grip and effortless performance.

Best Muddler: Muddling fruit for a cocktail can be a frustrating and time-consuming task, but it is also necessary if you want to make sure your drink of choice is done right. You can, however, take some of the frustration out of it by investing in the ProCrush Muddler you see here. This heavy-duty bar tool was made to be ergonomic and effective, taking some of the effort out of crushing that pulp and/or herbs. It’s even tough enough to crush ice and was designed to be flipped over and used for just that purpose. It even has a replaceable head so you can ensure it stays in tip-top shape at all times.

Material: Hand-Cast Stainless Steel Handle with Plastic Head
Length: 12.59″

Dorset Crystal Double Old-Fashioned Glasses

Dorset Crystal Double Old Fashioned Glasses
Why It Made the Cut
  • These beautiful crystal glasses from Dorset go with most of your barware and reflect light beautifully thanks to its fluted sides.

Best Glassware: In order for all these drinks and concoctions to work, you’re going to need something to drink them out of. If you have no other piece of glassware in your bar, you should at least have a couple of old-fashioned glasses. Try this classy option from Dorset, which comes from a Slovenian glassworks firm that’s nearly 100 years old. Sold as a set of four, it’s made with hand-cut crystal that reflects light beautifully thanks to its fluting. There are old-fashioned glasses that look too simple and others that are so garish that they clash with whatever else you have on your bar, but these strike the perfect balance between the two.

Capacity: 11.5oz
Material: Hand-cut crystal

Waterford Lismore Square Crystal Decanter

Why It Made the Cut
  • There’s no better way to display your favorite whiskey than with a beautiful decanter, like this Lismore from Waterford.

Best Decanter: Unless you’re distilling it yourself in a backyard bootlegger still, most whiskey comes in its own bottle. However, even with high-end offerings, sometimes those bottles are ugly, put frankly. If you want to keep your favorite whiskey on hand in a vessel worthy of putting on display, you’ll want to put it in the Waterford Lismore Square Crystal Decanter. Despite what some may think, there really aren’t any benefits to transferring your whiskey into one of these bottles, but it definitely looks good and, even if that functions as a kind of placebo, that’s good enough for us.

Capacity: 26oz
Material: Crystal

Design Within Reach Line Bar

Design Within Reach Line Bar
Why It Made the Cut
  • DWR’s Line Bar is pricey but offers unparalleled class to your drinking space with its mid-century style and functional interior.

Best Bar Cabinet: There are numerous benefits to keeping your home bar essentials in a bar cabinet (or cart) rather than strewn about your kitchen. For starters, it keeps everything all together in a single place — meaning you’ll never have to rifle through cupboards to find the ingredients or tools you need. But for the higher-end bars, they typically boast design-centric aesthetics that can become a conversation piece in their own regard. Designed by Singapore-based Nathon Yong for DWR, this particular Line Bar cabinet from DWR is special to us because it boasts a classic mid-century modern appearance, it’s crafted from sturdy solid wood (oak, walnut, or painted ash), it’s plenty spacious with interior organization shelves and drawers, and features a chromed steel stemware rack.

Designer: Nathon Yong for DWR
Dimensions: 41⅜” x 41⅜” x 19¾”
Material: Solid Oak, Walnut, or Ash

The Best Cocktail Books for Your Home Bar

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Love learning about mixology? Hop over to our guide to the best cocktail books to add to your home bar.