While a Mad Men-fueled burst of nostalgia may have been the catalyst for a renewed appreciation of the classic home bar, the spartan nature of any ‘60s bar cart leaves much to be desired by today’s dedicated home mixologist. Tastes have evolved, both supply and choices have grown. To make the great drinks of our time, more is needed than a few bargain shelf bar supplies picked up in the kitchen section at a local department store.
Building the perfect bar is a lot like furnishing a home: you start with the basics, and over the months and years you make improvements, additions, and upgrades as the times (and funds) allow.
When it comes to bottles, most experts have advised a few essentials: bourbon, scotch, vodka, gin, light and dark rums, and maybe a tequila. But the bare essentials aren’t enough for the modern drinker, who demands more essentials, and variety within each category. The same is true of the bar now. We know better what makes a good shaker; we know what to look for in a jigger; we know how to spot the difference between good and bad ice.
If you’re anything like us, you’re constantly looking for ways to improve your home drink offerings. Sitting down with a good-looking (and good-tasting) cocktail is a great reward; serving one to a friend or loved one is a great achievement.
We’ve gathered gear recommendations for the perfect bar, and divided them into three categories: Essentials, Upgrades, and Novelties, so whether you’re starting from scratch with a blank cart, or looking to perfect your built-in bar, there’s something everyone can’t do without.