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Eat and Drink

Home bar essentials: Everything you need to make cocktails yourself

Want to make great cocktails at home? Here's what you need.

Glassware

Every drink has a glass it should be
Photo Credit: GEORGIA KRAL

Every drink has a glass it should be served in.

From left to right:

Wine glass

Martini glass

Shot glass

Coupe (for shaken cocktails or champagne)

Highball

Old fashioned/ rocks glass

Spirits

Ok, we know you like what you like,
Photo Credit: GEORGIA KRAL

Ok, we know you like what you like, but there are some essentials that every bar should have:

Gin

Vodka

Bourbon

Scotch (in a decanter if you're into that sort of thing)

Vermouth, both sweet and dry

Bitters

Recommended

Cynar or Amaro, or any bitter digestif

Campari, for Negroni's

Tequila

Dark rum

Aperol

Double jigger

Eyeballing it works for a rum and coke,
Photo Credit: GEORGIA KRAL

Eyeballing it works for a rum and coke, but not for a more complicated concoction with more than two ingredients. A double jigger measures 1 1/2 ounces on one side (a full jigger) and 3/4 of an ounce on the other.

This nice one from Williams-Sonoma is $7.96.

Hand-held citrus juicer

You can use a tabletop juicer if you
Photo Credit: GEORGIA KRAL

You can use a tabletop juicer if you want, but we love a good hand-held tool. No pouring required.

Norpro makes a nice stainless steel juicer.

Citrus grater

Many concoctions call for a dusting, either of
Photo Credit: GEORGIA KRAL

Many concoctions call for a dusting, either of lemon, lime, nutmeg or a host of other delicate flavors. Using a grater allows for a nice even amount of fine particles.

Choose from many on Amazon.

Muddler

You need a muddler when a cocktail calls
Photo Credit: GEORGIA KRAL

You need a muddler when a cocktail calls for herbs (hello mojito!), fruits or crushed aromatics. We like a wooden muddler because it's more natural,or seasoned, than a metal or rubber muddler.

Try this one from Oenophilia.

Cocktail shaker

You need this for obvious reasons. Get a
Photo Credit: GEORGIA KRAL

You need this for obvious reasons. Get a shaker that's insulated - your hand will thank you when it's not frozen.

Get this affordable model at Williams-Sonoma for $35.96.

Stirred cocktail tools

If you prefer a stirred cocktail -- and
Photo Credit: GEORGIA KRAL

If you prefer a stirred cocktail -- and if you do, might we suggest the 50-50 gin martini (1/2 gin, 1/2 dry vermouth, olives or 1-2 drops orange bitters) -- you need these three ingredients: a pint glass (measurements optional, but handy), a bar spoon and a cocktail strainer.

You can get fancy with these tools - check out this strainer from Swissmar - but any tools will work.

Large, square ice cube tray

Yes, regular ice will work in your old-fashioned.
Photo Credit: King Cube

Yes, regular ice will work in your old-fashioned. But a large ice cube melts more slowly and thus won't dilute your drink as quickly. Keep those spirits strong!

Pick one up at the Brooklyn Kitchen for $9.99.

Mixers

Seltzer and tonic, only. These are the only
Photo Credit: FLICKR/ Orin Zebest

Seltzer and tonic, only. These are the only carbonated beverages acceptable. If you want some extra flavor or sweetness, add simple syrup. You can make your own. The measurement is 1:1/ sugar to water. Just heat until sugar is dissolved and the mixture almost boils, and then let cool.

Rose's Lime Juice has its detractors but we like it in a vodka gimlet. It's good to have on hand.

Garnishes....

Of course, you can garnish your cocktail with
Photo Credit: FLICKR/ Sunchild57 Photography

Of course, you can garnish your cocktail with any number of things. But the essentials are: cocktail olives, lemon or lime slices or maraschino (or the gourmet, better for you Luxardo) cherries. Pickled onions aren't essential, though if you like them, having a jar on hand so you can whip up a martini, go for it.

Classic cocktail #1: The Old-Fashioned

One of the most classic drinks happens to
Photo Credit: FLICKR/ Sam Howzit

One of the most classic drinks happens to also be one of the tastiest. The Old-Fashioned is also the drink of choice for one Don Draper. Here's how to make it:

Ingredients

Bourbon/ Sugar/ Bitters/ Cherry/ Orange and Lemon slices

Muddle 1 teaspoon of sugar with a couple of drops of bitters and a splash of water in an Old Fashioned glass. Add ice as desired. Add one ounce of Bourbon (or more) as desired. Garnish.

Classic cocktail #2: The dry martini

Had a long day? A crisp, dry martini
Photo Credit: FLICKR/ Nico

Had a long day? A crisp, dry martini (gin is classic, vodka is an option) will help you wind down.

Ingredients

Gin (or vodka), dry vermouth, olives/ lemon twist/ pickled onion

The most common breakdown is 3:1 parts, gin to vermouth, but everyone has their preferred way. Fill cocktail shaker with ice, add spirits, shake vigorously. Some like to stir a martini, but we think it's better to shake because it gets colder, with flecks of ice mixed into the concoction. As James Bond says, "Shaken, not stirred."

If you like a dirty martini, add a tablespoon of olive brine.

Classic cocktail #3: The Mint Julep

The Mint Julep is a spring drink, and
Photo Credit: Virgil's

The Mint Julep is a spring drink, and is synonymous with the Kentucky Derby. And while they are especially good on a warm afternoon, we like them all the time.

Ingredients:

Bourbon, simple syrup, fresh mint

Muddle 4-5 mint sprigs and 1/2 ounce simple syrup in the bottom of an Old-Fashioned or Highball glass. (If you have the classic julep cup- great!) Add 2 1/2 ounces of bourbon. Fill with crushed ice and stir well. Garnish with more mint (and a cherry, if you like.)

Classic cocktail #4: The Vodka Gimlet

A vodka gimlet is straightforward, refreshing and a
Photo Credit: FLICKR/ Todd Lappin

A vodka gimlet is straightforward, refreshing and a little sweet. It must be served bracingly cold.

Ingredients:

Vodka, Rose's lime juice (or make your own with fresh squeezed lime and a pinch of sugar), lime wedge

Pour 1 1/2 ounces of vodka and 3/4 ounce of lime juice into a cocktail shaker. Shake vigorously. Pour into martini glass or coupe. Garnish with lime wedge.

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