The Holiday season is the perfect opportunity to upgrade your home bar
Have you ever watched a character on-screen grab a bottle from their home bar, pour out a dram and drink it under low-key lighting, making you itch at the thought of having your own home bar someday? Okay maybe it was just us.
Setting up your own home bar can be a difficult job, but you knew that of course. Good things don’t always come easy, and they often require you to invest a lot of time and energy into them. The holidays are the perfect time for a hobby like this one, with lots of time on your hands and a lot of drinking to do.
In our own modest capacity, it is true that each one of us has thought of having their own small nook, if not a huge ostentatious bar, where you can enjoy a drink. Perhaps listen to some good music, read a book or even watch a football match; you’re the boss!
It’s not all that hard to do actually because if you do have a couple of bottles of liquor and a few glasses, you have already begun your journey towards building a bar counter for your home. Maybe you do have a modest cabinet full of the good stuff that you acquired over the years, or maybe you never got around to actually getting these lonely bottles a place of their own. Anyway, since you are here, it is clear that you have begun to consider upgrading or having your own home bar.
For everyone that wants to go a step further, feat not for we’re here to help you do it just right. Step by step of course, so let’s get started on building and upgrading your home bar.
You can split your home bar essentials into three parts; the booze, the glasses and stemware, and the accessories.
For all intents and purposes, let’s discuss the booze first.
When stocking up booze for your home bar, keep in mind that all tastes are subjective, and no matter what you may have seen at a friend’s home, or online, shouldn’t reflect your personal choice.
If you’re a whisky drinker that doesn’t usually stray from their regular Scotch, Bourbon and Irish whiskey, you don’t need to focus much on other forms of alcoholic beverages. Having just one or even none of the choices for Vodka, Gin, White & Dark Rum, Brandy, Tequila and Absinthe.
It’s not wrong to have a preference or an affinity towards one kind of whisky, whether it’s Scotch, Irish, Bourbon, Indian, Japanese or Canadian whisky. Let’s take it step by step, covering every kind of indisputable inclusions in your modest, or ambitious endeavour to build a home bar that you can be proud of.
If you love Scotch whisky, some classic single malts that should always be handy are The Glenlivet, Aberlour, Laphraoig, Talisker and Old Pulteney. Depending on your budget, you can opt for the standard 12 Year Old expressions from the aforementioned brands. Now for the people for whom money is no object, our recommendations would be The Glenlivet 15 Year Old, The Aberlour 12 Year Old, Laphraoig 10 Year Old, Talisker 57° North and the Old Pulteney 12 Year Old. All excellent and expansive single malt Scotch whiskies that give you a little bit of everything that Scotland has to offer.
The more reasonably priced standard blends such as Black & White, Teacher’s Highland Cream and J&B Rare are also good choices for everyday drinks; easy on the wallet but still very good.
Let’s move on to Irish whiskeys; the standard Jameson continues to rule to roost with their supreme quality and impeccable pricing that makes them a darling worldwide, not just among the drinkers but among the bartenders too. Jameson Irish whiskey is easy to work with for cocktails, and works wonderfully with mixers of all kinds.
Bourbon and American whiskey enthusiasts needn’t worry for we have some terrific recommendations for them as well. Besides the flagbearers of American whiskey worldwide such as Jack Daniel’s and Jim Beam, Bourbon brands such as Rabbit Hole, Buffalo Trace, Woodford Reserve and Basil Hayden are making America real proud with their creations.
Rabbit Hole Cavehill and Rabbit Hole Dareringer are both exceptional introductions from the newcomers to the industry. Buffalo Trace Straight Bourbon, Woodford Reserve Double Oaked and Basil Hayden’s Kentucky Straight Bourbon are other great American whiskeys you should definitely try to get your hands on.
There are, quite frankly, over thousands of varieties of glasses and stemware. You can decide the kind of glasses you need to stock up on, depending on the drinks you, your spouse or family members and guests prefer.
For wine drinkers, there are your Burgundys, Bordeauxs, Chardonnays and Sauternes among many others. You can find a detailed guide on the right glasses for your favourite type of wine.
Then you have the beer mugs for lager-heads and ale-whales, shot glasses for your Vodkas, Absinthes, and Champagne flutes for (you guessed it) Champagne.
Since we’re dealing with whisky here, there are a few types of whisky glasses that are must-haves if you intend to build a comprehensive home bar with the whole shebang. Check out our list of recommended whisky glasses below.
1. Old Fashione
1. The most popular and widely used whisky glass in the world. It has been around for a long time, and is also known as ‘the Rocks glass’, or ‘the Lowball glass.’ Perfect for cocktails such as the Old Fashioned, which incidentally the glass derives its name from, and The Godfather. A classic in every sense.
The classic Old Fashioned glass
2. Those who are serious about their whisky know the Snifter is the ‘right’ glass to drink your whisky from. Okay it’s not the right glass, but it helps if you’re drinking to get to know the whisky. The shape of the Snifter glass is bulbous at the bottom, tapering towards the end, allowing the aromas from the whisky to waft upwards, allowing the drinker to nose the whisky well. If you take the pleasure in drinking your whisky neat, give the Snifter a chance.
The Snifter glass
The Highball, like the Lowball, is another commonly found type of glass across bars and restaurants worldwide. It’s simple, practical and can be used to drink just about anything. If there were such a thing called a ‘jack of all glasses’, the Highball would be it. Coincidentally, it’s the perfect glass for a Jack & Coke! Other drinks that are typically served in a Highball glass are the Irish Lemonade, Tom Collins and more.
The Highball glass
For whisky drinkers, these are all the types of glasses you need for all your needs, whether you like it neat, mixed or shaken into a cocktail. Since we have all your glass and stemware needs covered, let us move on to the third, but equally important component of building a bar counter for your home.
Bar accessories include your everyday essentials that range from stirrers and bar-spoons, to the cocktail shaker, ice bucket and even the cocktail strainer. We’re listing down all the crucial bar accessories you need to upgrade your home bar from the casually collected to the meticulously put together extravaganza.
1. The Cocktail Shaker
Very important, and lets you mix your run-of-the-mill cocktails such as the Whisky Sour or the Martini, to the one of the ‘bartender-bane’ cocktails such as the Mojito, or the Penicillin. The cocktail shaker is an accessory you must always have at the bar counter for your home because cocktails are a great way to shake things up every once in a while, pun intended.
2. The Bar Spoon
When James Bond emphasizes on shaken, not stirred he is in fact asking for the bar spoon to not be used. The Bar Spoon is used to stir drinks and cocktails such as The Godfather, the Old Fashioned or the Irish Lemonade. Very handy tool even if you want to have something as simple as a corner bar unit.
3. The Ice Bucket & Jigger
The ice bucket is just too important, and as for the jigger, it’s the two-sided measurement instrument that looks like two shot glasses on either end. This helps you measure your spirits easily and quickly without having to go all chemist and use a beaker.
4. The Strainer
Some cocktails require ingredients that don’t need to be a part of the finished drink. The cocktail strainer allows you to do exactly what it says when you pour out your drink from the shaker, to the glass.
5. The Muddler
The muddler is a blunt instrument that is similar to the hand grinder used in the kitchen. It is a helpful tool that’s used to crush mint leaves for a Mojito, or sugar cubes for an Old Fashioned cocktail, and has many more applications.
That completes our list of the essential accessories that must be a part of the bar counter for your home. Not only do they help you add a bit of pizzazz when you’re entertaining guests, they make life much easier when you’re in the mood to fix a delicious cocktail, or a liquid remedy for yourself.
Building, or even upgrading your home bar is not an activity that you can finish in a day or two. Take it step-by-step, take your time and before you know it, the home bar you have always wanted to have will be complete for you to enjoy, admire and flaunt.