Ask A Bartender: Essential Tools for the Home Bar

Ask a Bartender

You ask, they answer.

Just a Hot Tea, Thanks

Daniel Bronson of The Strand Smokehouse and Crescent & Vine in Queens

While professional bartenders have all the equipment they need, those of us making drinks at home don't start out fully equipped. So we asked professionals across the country about the most essential tools for a home bar. Here's what they recommended.

Lauren Lathrop Williams of JSix in San Diego

"A measuring cup (or jigger) until you really can free pour an ounce, a good old fashioned strainer (Collins strainers always bother me for some reason), and most importantly: access to really good ice. That water is going to end up in your drink. It better taste as good as everything else." — Dan Bronson (The Strand Smokehouse & Crescent & Vine)

"A good peeler, for citrus, some good ice trays of different sizes, and a humble enough attitude to know that sometimes it won't work and that's ok." — Lauren Lathrop Williams (Jsix Restaurant)

"A mixing tin set with a strainer, a Mexican beehive juicer, and a 2 ounce/1 ounce jigger." — Ryan Prevost (Kabocha)

"You need an observational prowl—I've learned so much from going to bars and watching bartenders work, reading their menus, looking at their spirits on the back bar. And a lot of my recent ideas for cocktails have come from chefs, from dishes I've eaten, from menus I've perused. Making notes of flavor combinations that you enjoy eating can spark some genius for really unique ideas. I'm still working on one for Peanut Butter & Jelly." — Chris Amirault (The Eveleigh)

"A few good ice trays and a lot of booze." — Kevin Peters (Golden Cadillac)

Dan Rook of South Water Kitchen in Chicago

"You've got to stock the basic three ingredients: spirit, citrus, and sweetener. You can find ways to stir, shake, and strain... but if you don't have proper ingredients—forget it." — Dan Rook (South Water Kitchen)

"The only way to really ruin a drink is by messing with the proportions. You want to be sure to follow the recipe to a T, and that is simple when you have a jigger on hand." — Gianni Cionchi (FishTag)

"A Yarai mixing glass." —Brian Means (Fifth Floor)

"The Savoy Cocktail Book, quality spirits, and thirst." — Jen Queen (Saltbox Dining & Drinking)

"A home bartender should invest in a good bar spoon, and a proper shaker and strainer—not the one that your cousin gave you with measurements on the side. I would also recommend investing in a good collection of bitters, because if your liquor cabinet is low, you can still create a nice old fashioned out of almost anything with a little sugar and a few flavors of bitters." — Trent Simpson (La Urbana)

"Carpano Antica sweet vermouth—it makes everyone a better bartender.  Be simple, be smart and don't forget the classics." — Thomas Gebbia (Thistle Hill Tavern)

What Are Your Picks??

What tools do you find essential when making drinks at home? Give us your list in the comments section below.

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