I love throwing parties. At this point, that should be no surprise. Gathering my loved ones together and filling their bellies with great food has been something I’ve enjoyed doing time and time again. And as my gatherings became larger, so did my inventory of kitchen gadgets. For a while, I focused only on what I needed to make great meals. Little did I know, I was neglecting an important part of almost any party involving adults — the bar.
Not until a couple of years ago did my husband and I invest in purchasing one for our home. Since then, we’ve gotten quite a bit of use out of it. We open it up during our parties, giving us a separate surface area to work when putting together drinks for everyone. And it has been great storage for whatever bottles we don’t care to keep chilled in the refrigerator or freezer. But not everyone has space for a large bar in their home. I know I didn’t for a long while, which has taught me a valuable lesson when it comes to entertaining.
There are key home bartender essentials that every host should own. They are small and can be stored away until you need them. They are inexpensive and so useful when it comes time to making drinks of any kind, and they work for parties small and large.
I share with you some of the bartending tools I have. These tools have come in handy during every one of the gatherings I’ve thrown. They aid me in putting together outstanding cocktails and make anyone using them feel like a pro.
Here are my Home Bartender Essentials for your toolbox.
- The 32-oz (or “Everyday”) Shaker
If you like mixed drinks that go beyond your Captain and diets, gin and tonics or vodka and club sodas, this is the item to own. This shaker is easy to handle, small enough to keep out or tuck away in a small cupboard. And because of its convenient 32-oz capacity, it can be filled with ice and still make at least 2 martinis. Hold back on loading the shaker with ice to the brim and you’ll get a 3rd and maybe even a 4th depending on the weight of your pour. Shakers this size, like the one I have, come with a dial that gives you a number of drink recipes. My advice — do not put this shaker in the dishwasher (as I have done way too many times). The recipe engravings will rub off, making it hard to impossible to read. But that’s okay. The capacity of the shaker is what makes this an essential item.
- The Classic Wine Opener
I love kitchen gadgets, which has resulted in me owning about 4 different kinds of wine openers. Some will pop a cork in 3 seconds with minimal elbow grease while others only require you to hold down a button. I love them all, but there is nothing quite like the reliability and versatility you will find with this item here. The classic wine opener is classic for a reason — it works. No charging or complicated technique required. It also doubles as a beer bottle opener, which can be key when sipping on long necks like Coronas. The classic wine opener is also small and can fit in the same drawer with your other kitchen utensils and will be one of the sturdiest bar tools you’ll ever own.
- The Bar Tool Kit
For anyone who wants to explore making bar-quality cocktails and making them right, a kit like this will give you almost everything you need for constructing accurately-awesome mixed beverages.
From left to right, you have a 1- and 2-oz measurer, a bottle opener, a spoon for cocktails that need stirring, a strainer for pouring mixed drinks, a knife to slice your citrus or any other kind of fruit you put into your drinks, and tongs for ice. I have used the bucket the tools sit in as a container for ice, which has allowed me quick access to the cubes without having to make one trip after another to the freezer. You purchase a kit like this and there will be very few other items you’ll need to buy.
- The Muddler
There are so many different kinds of drinks you can make, and some of the best ones contain fresh fruit and herbs. Owning a muddler is going to give you what you need to step up your home bartending game. This gadget will help you infuse your drinks by gently grinding whatever fruit or herbs you add to the ice in your shaker. With a little elbow grease, the muddler will break down your solid ingredients before adding the wet, infusing immense flavor into the cocktails you make. It is a must-have for the home bartender, especially if you a fan of the mojito.
- The 64-oz (or “Party”) Shaker
I’m excessive. I’ve long come to terms with that trait. And when I came across this shaker, I had no choice but to feed into that part of my personality, and for good reason. This 64-oz shaker is massive and PERFECT for mixing cocktails during a gathering. Its size enables you to make up to 8-10 drinks in one shot and it is so fun to use when you’ve got guests around. Despite the grandness, this shaker is not pricey (under $30) and the most essential tool for the everyday host. I cannot count how many times I’ve used this shaker during parties. It saves time and effort and impresses anyone in the presence of it.
When thinking about the next party you plan to throw, consider these essentials items. With them, you can be an amazing bartender, even if you don’t have a bar. It is these items that will give you what you need to construct incredible cocktails easily and in any quantity necessary.