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11 Essential Items Every Home Bar Should Have

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Kate MurphyGuest Blogger
July 09, 2016 · 1.8k Views

Mad Men made us all nostalgic for the time when home bars were a standard. Usually situated in the living room under a gilt sunburst mirror, the home bar had everything one needed to fix a drink after a long day at work. The thought sounds appealing, doesn’t it? Setting up your own drink-making spot will take some thought and preparation. For a home bar equipped to serve any occasion, you’ll want to make sure to have these essential items on hand.


1. Home Bar Table

Source: Amazon

Look for a home bar table or cart that fits comfortably in your house or apartment. It should also provide a good working space and adequate storage for accessories, glasses, alcohol, and ingredients. Check out this Contemporary Bar Table ($138.67 on Amazon).

If you're shopping on Amazon, make sure to check out our Amazon coupon page before you make any purchases.

2. Bar Tools Set

Source: Macy's

Think of it like a toolbox that can fix any drink you throw at it. Look for a bar tools set that comes with the following accessories:

  • Long cocktail knife
  • Pairing knife
  • Peeler
  • Cutting board
  • Corkscrew
  • Bottle opener
  • Juice squeezer
  • Standard shaker (make sure it has a metal bottom and metal lid with strainer)
  • Jigger

You want quality here so be willing to pay a little more for a good product. Check out the Godinger Copper Bar Tools Set ($140.00 at Macy’s).

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3. Bartending Handbook

Source: Amazon

Practice makes perfect when it comes to making cocktails. Keep a bartending handbook around for reference and to try new recipes. At home mixologists and industry insiders have great things to say about The Ultimate Bar Book: The Comprehensive Guide to Over 1,000 Cocktails ($12.94 on Amazon).

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4. Additional Accessories

Stock your bar with cocktail napkins, cocktail toothpicks, and swizzle sticks to serve with drinks. It’s your call on cocktail umbrellas.

5. Glasses

Drinking vessels are very important when it comes to serving (and enjoying) a proper cocktail. You’ll want to have the following types of glasses around at all times.

All-Purpose Wineglasses

Source: Crate & Barrel

All-purpose wineglasses are great because they are appropriate vessels for both white and red wine. Look for a set with enough glasses to accommodate a small dinner party. Consider this Set of 8 Boxed 12 oz. Wine Glasses ($29.95 from Crate&Barrel). Find Crate & Barrel coupons here.

Martini Glasses

Source: Macy's

Martini glasses are versatile and can be used to serve the classic namesake or a fancy elixir. Check out this great offer for the Tuscany Martini Glasses 6 Piece Value Set ($54 at Macy’s). Find Macy's coupons here.

Highball glasses

Source: Real Simple

These classic bar glasses will be used to serve all the mixed drinks you make while studying The Ultimate Bar Book. Check out these Classic Highball Glasses, Set of 4 ($49.95 at Williams-Sonoma). Find Williams-Sonoma coupons here.

6. Liquor

Now you are ready to pick up some liquor. But with so many drink recipes circulating these days, deciding which bottles to fill your bar with is difficult. Stick to this list and you’ll have all you need to make any drink.

  • Bourbon
  • Gin
  • Rum (light)
  • Scotch (blended)
  • Tequila (white
  • Vodka
  • Cointreau or triple sec
  • Vermouth (dry)
  • Vermouth (sweet)

7. Wine

Keep a bottle or two of white and red wine on reserve. As you go through bottles, start rating the wines based on your tastes and those of your guests. This will save you time when picking out bottles for dinner parties and holiday get-togethers in the future.

8. Beer

Make things easy for yourself and stock up on a light beer and a dark beer for day-to-day. Wait until a special occasion to pick up seasonal and specialty flavors.

9. Mixers

Stick to the basics when it comes to mixers. You’ll want to pick up following items:

  • Club soda
  • Cola
  • Ginger ale
  • Sparkling water
  • Cranberry juice
  • Orange juice
  • Tonic water
  • Angostura bitters

10. Garnishes

Any good bartender will tell you that a cocktail isn’t complete with out the garnish. Here, you’ll want go with the basics. And be sure that you are always serving with fresh garnishes!

  • Pitted green olives
  • Lemons
  • Limes
  • Kosher salt
  • Maraschino cherries

11. Hand towels

Sure, paper towels will clean up a spill. But, it just looks classier when a hand towel is used.

These are the essentials that you should have in order to make your home bar complete and efficient. It will take you from a quiet nightcap to cocktail party with friends. A 1960s vintage gilt sunburst mirror is not necessary, but would add a nice touch.


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Kate Murphy is a native of Pennsylvania. After receiving a degree in art history, she moved to New York City to test the waters. She enjoys writing about art, culture, fashion, design, and travel. In addition to writing, Kate works with artists, leads, street art tours, and moonlights as an illustrator.