OK. It’s time to stop making margaritas in a jam jar. Yes, that’s an OK thing to do for the first, second and third margs of the summer, but what if you had a proper shaker/ strainer set? It’d mean zero tiny shards of glass in each sip. What if you had big ice, so you could shake for the proper dilution? That’s within reach.
What with how often so many of us are at home, it’s time to take a good look at home bar setups. (Be safe in your consumption, of course!) Here are the basics you should have for your bar cart, from spirits to ice buckets to the right shakers and glasses.
No judgment if you’re amping up your bar cart’s beauty by shopping for vintage Champagne coupes and knickknacks at estate sales. But there’s something joyous about having the right stuff to make yourself a proper drink—beyond the jar.
Yes, you could keep reaching for a hulking Pyrex to measure out 2 or 4 ounces of liquor, but why not get a proper jigger? We’re partial to the one that’s part of our bar tools set, which sits neatly on top of your bar cart of choice and also includes a cocktail strainer, bar spoon, bottle opener, muddler and ice tongs. You’ll want a corkscrew and ice bucket, too. (The latter looks gorgeous on the lower level of the cart, if you’re pinched for space and don’t drink Champagne on the daily.) And you’re going to want an excellent shaker (here are three great options) and good, big ice to drop into those Old Fashioned glasses.
2. Core Spirits
Bourbon and vodka, gin and rum, tequila and bitters. You can do a lot with just those ingredients on a bar cart! Most guests nowadays are partial to bourbon over Irish whiskey and rye, as it tends to be a little sweeter and more caramelized, but you do you! Do have the five heavy hitters bolded above, though, as you’ll be able to satisfy most guests.
3. Specialty Spirits
You’re going to want a few specialty spirits, depending on your happy hour beverage of choice. Campari or Aperol? Yes, and it depends on how bitter you like things. You’ll also want vermouth, which you should store in the refrigerator for up to a month once it’s opened. Stash St-Germain if you’re partial to elderflower cocktails, and an orange liqueur for margaritas and the like.
Bitters these days are just beautiful, and you can collect the ones that intrigue you the most. It’s a good idea to always have Angostura and Peychaud’s on hand, as they populate many classic drinks, but you might also want grapefruit or burnt caramel, peach or smoked orange. Although they don’t need to clutter your gorgeous cart, consider having soda water and tonic, juices and soda at the ready in the pantry.
The vessels you serve the drinks in matter. Yes, you can get away with jam jars… for a while, and depending on the setting. (It works better on a porch than on a patio with a view!) Our Fiore glassware is just stunning, and will tempt any fans of cut glass. So, too, is our antique brassware ice bucket, a true charmer for any fans of bubbly wine. You’ll want a variety of glassware for highballs and Old Fashioned glasses, plus wine glasses and a decanter.
And don’t fret: As is true of any home renovation, stocking a bar cart is a slow evolution. If you’re starting with gin, tonic, a lime, and a jam jar, well, good for you! Cheers to starting small.