Sometimes a trip to the bar can be more exhausting than relaxing. Like when all you want to do is post up in your favorite gin joint for the game, but as soon as you step through the door, you are greeted with packs of college kids. I personally don’t have the energy to swim through the sweaty ranks and yell myself silly trying to get a drink. Luckily, I just spin right around and head back home where I have a fully stocked bar. But to craft delicious cocktails at home, you need the tools the pros use. Here are my recommendations for the top 12 things you need to always have on hand.
FIVE MUST-HAVE PIECES OF BAR EQUIPMENT
Pint glasses and shaker-tins are a must for building and shaking cocktails. The glasses are your standard pint glass. My preferred shaker is the open-topped version (also known as a Boston cocktail shaker) that fits right over the glass and locks in.
Speed pours let you pour fast and accurately, which is a lifesaver when you’re making cocktails for a crowd.
A muddler is a small wooden tool that resembles a bat and lets you crush fresh fruit or ice. It also can be used as self-defense against overzealous partygoers.
The channel knife is a wonderful tool that gives you the ability to create fruit twists to garnish your crafted cocktails. Warning: you might become obsessed with twisting an entire orange into one long strip.
The jigger is the little measuring cup bartenders use to ensure the exact accuracy of ingredients. Downloading recipes off the Internet is fun, and the jigger lets you concoct them precisely.
SEVEN MUST-HAVE LIQUORS
HUSSONG'S TEQUILA - This is my favorite tequila, and I like to sip it neat. It’s a reposado that is great on its own, paired with a beer (such as Negra Modelo), or mixed into a refreshing margarita.
TITO'S VODKA - Tito’s is a small-batch, handcrafted vodka. Vodka is the chameleon of the liquor world and easily the most mixable.
TUACA - A delicious vanilla-citrus liqueur from Italy. Everybody has tried Kahlua and coffee, but it’s rare that people have experienced the versatility of Tuaca in their warm beverages.
ST. GERMAIN - St. Germain is a floral French liqueur made with elderberry flowers. The elixir in this striking bottle goes with most other spirits and can jazz up old traditional recipes.
BASIL HAYDEN'S - My number one bourbon whiskey is Basil Hayden’s, and it is at its best in a Manhattan with orange bitters and an orange twist. I typically enjoy it during the dessert portion of the meal.
CAPTIVE SPIRITS' BOURBON BARRELED BIG GIN - Crafted right in our backyard in Ballard, Captive Spirits has aged their product in bourbon barrels giving it a really unique flavor. Use in standard gin-based drinks, or try something new.
JOHNNIE WALKER BLUE LABEL - Everyone should have a high-end scotch on hand. This is the one you pull down from the shelf once a year to celebrate, commiserate or contemplate. It is the anchor of any well-stocked home bar.
With this guide, you can take back your bar freedom. No longer will you be resigned to the hordes of the over-served. Just make sure you come back and see us now and again, or I’ll have to find a new gig.
- Zach Maurer, Cosmos Bar Manager