With the help of a professional bartender, we rounded up the modern, must-have items that every home bartender should have.
Take a look around your home. If you’ve found that you’ve put time and effort into sprucing up everything from your kitchen wares to your bedding, but your at-home bar set up is lacking – then it’s probably time for an upgrade. The key to ensuring that your bar set-up doesn’t become an afterthought is to invest in quality, durable pieces for the essentials, while adding in unique, design-forward extras. Once your upgrade is complete, whipping up at-home cocktails will be a breeze now that you're equipped with the right tools and stylish accents to compliment your decor.
EBONY spoke with James KP Sykes, owner of The Armory Bar in Brooklyn, NY, to round up the top items that every home bartender should have that will not only spark a conversation with your guests, but take your cocktails to the professional level.
Cocktail Smoking Box or Top
“If you are looking to entertain your guests with great panache,” says Sykes, “then a cocktail smoker kit is a guaranteed hit. It uses wood chips and vapor to impart a smokey element to your drink of choice.” This sleek Crafthouse Cocktail Smoking Box from Williams Sonoma is sure to impress your guests. If you're tight on space, opt for a wooden smoker that achieves the same effect. Both will have your friends guessing what it is, until you show off your expert smoking skills.
Professional Cocktail Shaker
“Toss out the cocktail shaker that came in a gift set and step your home bar game up with premium gauge stainless steel shakers,” says Sykes. One of his favorite shops for barwares is The Black Home, which offers a stunning gold-plated professional grade Heavyweight Cocktail Shaker with a built-in strainer.
Hand Blown Colored Glassware
Saturated glassware is a fun way to spice up the look of your libations. Spring for hand blown colored glassware like these Estelle Amber Rocks glasses or Lavender Stemmed wine glasses, and mix and match to create a bar set-up that doesn’t take itself too seriously.
Multi-Functional Bar Cart
The foundation of any home bar set up is the bar cart – one that complements your home décor, but is spacious enough to hold all of the necessities from spirits, to bitters, glassware to bar tools. If you entertain often, selecting a multi-functional bar cart is ideal. This Inspired Home Weili Bar Cart has a removable serving tray, perfect for displaying cocktails, bar snacks, and serving your guests like a pro.
Atomizer and Dasher Bottles
If you’ve ever been to a high-end cocktail bar and saw the mixologist spraying what appeared to be perfume on a drink, you’ll have witnessed an atomizer in action. “This tool comes in various shapes and sizes – some will appear as simple as a spray bottle, while others are stylized to represent vintage perfume bottles,” says Sykes. “It’s used when you want to aromatize your cocktail with a scent more than a flavor, like vanilla for example.” To complete the set, Sykes recommends showing off a few dasher bottles alongside the atomizer at your home bar. “These tiny bottles, corked with a spout, are an excellent way to store, display and dispense cocktail modifiers such as bitters.”
Reusable Linen Cocktail Napkins
Linen cocktail napkins are a great way to upgrade your home bar with a splash of elegance. This Sparkle Bee set from One Kings Lane adds the perfect balance of glamor and whimsy - plus it's eco-friendly so you’ll never need to reach for a paper napkin again.
Crystal Mixing Glass
Sykes notes that if you’re planning to upgrade your bar tools, make sure you splurge on a premium mixing glass. “Treat yourself to a crystal mixing glass – handled with care, it will last a very long time.” We love this classic Yarai Mixing Glass from Cocktail Kingdom, so you can stir up your next martini in style.