Tools of the Trade: Home Bar Essentials

It’s not like we’ve been popping down to our local pub for a quick one of late. And, while we miss the charms of a regular crowd and the bartender who knows our pour, drinking at home does have its advantages, especially in Utah. That is, you get to decide how stiff to pour a drink. Cocktails in Utah, we’ve often lamented, are hobbled by the state’s fastidious dram laws, which means no matter how skillful your bartender is, well, there just can’t be enough booze in there. A cocktail, as designed, is meant to a be a stiff drink, to kick things off. In this sense, the home bar is the best bar where you can attentively marry the proportions and not skimp on the gravy. So have at it and make the kind of boozy concoction Frank Sinatra would pour his guests, with plenty of ice, and advise: “You’re going to want to let that lie down a bit.” 


A JIGGER. First and foremost, a jigger is something I always have. When working with multiple spirit cocktails, like a Last Word or a Negroni, it’s key to have the correct proportions. My workhorse is the ‘Gigger’ from Curriculum ($32).

A SHAKER, MIXING GLASS AND BARSPOON. For shaken cocktails, the home bartender can use a cobbler shaker. For stirred cocktails, you want to have a mixing glass and a barspoon. You can always stir in a pint glass, but that’s no fun. A proper barspoon helps with an elegant, silent stir. Just please, no barspoons with the red tops. They have no balance and less style. Koriko Shaking Tin Set, $28.

A STRAINER. You want to have a strainer with a tight coil to avoid having a float of ice chips on top of a drink. Nothing ruins a shaken daiquiri like a mouthful of ice. The Antique Hawthorne Strainer ($24) is a great choice. Easy to use and clean, and it works for both shaken or stirred cocktails.

A JUICER.You’re going to want to have a decent juicer. Don’t fight trying to hand-squeeze citrus. Mexican Beehive Juicer, $24.

For presentation, use either A ROCKS GLASS OR A COUPE GLASS for cocktails at home. Please let the world be rid of the conical martini glass. It’s not the original martini glass, and it’s difficult to carry and drink from. Xaquixe Galeria Glass, $19.

A PEELER FOR GARNISHING. Garnishes aren’t all for show. The expression of citrus oils on an Old Fashioned is the difference between a good and great drink, and it takes about 10 seconds. You don’t need to spend a lot of money. Just get one that works. 

AND FINALLY, ICE! For me personally, We always just have some 2-by-2-inch cubes in the freezer. The larger cube keeps the drink cold but dilutes the cocktail much slower than your traditional ice cube you’d get from your refrigerator. Who wants to rush to finish their cocktail before it’s over-diluted? Consider an ice ball maker at home. It makes a perfect sphere, extends the life of your drink and it’s always a fun party trick. 

All products (except peeler) available at Curriculum, SLC. Subscribe to print issues of Salt Lake magazine.

Jeremy Pugh
Jeremy Pugh
Jeremy Pugh is Salt Lake magazine's Editor. He covers culture, history, the outdoors and whatever needs a look. Jeremy is also the author of the book "100 Things to Do in Salt Lake City Before You Die" and the co-author of the history, culture and urban legend guidebook "Secret Salt Lake."

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