25 Essential Bar Accessories: 1 - 5
Entertaining at home can be quite enjoyable, especially if you take the time to plan ahead. You can wow your friends with your bartending prowess and make them more than happy to come back again when you have the right accessories for your home bar. After all, while bartending is an art, what artist is complete without their tools?
Naturally, buying every tool available on the market would be cost prohibitive. Even though many wine and bar accessories are available for under $20, there is no reason to stock up on non-essential items. You don’t need novelty bits or decorative knick knacks that don’t really serve a purpose behind the bar. Instead, you need to focus your attention on the items that will be truly useful to you in mixing your drinks and serving your guests effectively.
To help you focus your attention, this guide reviews the top 25 wine and bar accessories for a home bar. Each tool or accessory is introduced with a brief explanation. You’ll also learn the home bar problem the tool solves and the benefits of using that particular tool. Items have been selected for their effectiveness, efficiency, and ability to solve core problems faced by home bar owners.
These tools are listed by number for your reference, but they are not ranked within their top 25 category. Instead, they move loosely from the beginning to end of home bar event. Collectively, they will equip you with the tools and accessories you need to be as creative and artistic with your bartending as you like and to transform your home bar into a true neighborhood piece de resistance.
Tool #1: Bottle Opener
Available in a number of shapes and sizes, your bottle opener is going to be one of your most frequently used bar tools. While novelty shapes are fun, you’ll get more lasting use out of a bottle opener with a solid design that won’t break or let you down at a key moment. Opt for a solid wood or thick stainless steel grip to ease your hands, or find a location where you can conveniently place a wall-mounted unit.
From beers to wine coolers, home bars have plenty of bottles that need opened.
Countertops chip, as do the teeth of show-offs. Some can pop bottles open with their bare hands, but you’ll save your hands, teeth, and home by having a professional bottle opener on hand at all times.
Tool #2: Corkscrew
Corkscrews are another bar essential, especially for the wine or champagne drinker. Designed to accommodate almost any need, the corkscrew family now encompasses simple screw designs as well as automatic openers and two prong cork extractors. Some designs also have a small blade for cutting away the labeling to give better access to the cork.
Even in an age where some wine bottles have screw tops, the main barrier between you and your wine or champagne remains that stubborn little cork.
A good corkscrew can make you seem like a suave professional behind the bar. Try a few models to get the sense of what really works for you in terms of ease and comfort during the opening process. One tip: If your hand strength isn’t what is once was, you may get particular benefit from the wing design, as the longer levers take less power to pop the cork than a traditional waiters’ corkscrew.
Tool #3: Specialty serving glasses
Specialty serving glasses cover your shot glasses, martini glass, champagne flutes, and wine goblets. While you can serve various other drinks in glasses “borrowed” from your regular kitchenware, to give the right impression for other drinks it is important to have the right glassware. Based on your serving and drinking patterns, an investment in good glasses will pay dividends for years to come.
A martini is just not a martini in a Dixie cup, and wine wasn’t made to be served in a pint glass. The right glass for the right drink can really make a difference in terms of final taste.
In addition to impression management, serving your drinks in the right kind of glass also adds to the overall pleasure of the drinking experience. Wine in particular needs to breathe, and proper portioning in other specialty glasses keeps drinks tasting as they should.
Tool #4: Cocktail shaker
Cocktail shakers are available in steel, clear glass, acrylics, and collapsible metals. Whatever your style, a cocktail shaker is a basic tool you won’t want to be without. Shakers come as one piece items with caps or as two piece sets. Some have built in strainers, although this is not a standard feature.
Mixed drinks need something to be mixed in, and a cocktail shaker is the ideal tool for the job.
Using a cocktail shaker is not only professional, but it is also the only way to make a martini that is shaken, not stirred. Shakers are also an effective way to cool liqueurs without diluting their potency, and to blend in fruit, cream-based liquors, or other specialty flavorings.
Tool #5: Cocktail strainer
Cocktail strainers have a unique appearance. The most popularly used style is the Hamilton strainer, which has a central aerated spoon section surrounded by a spring. At least one should be kept handy at any home bar, and you may be surprised at how much use you have for two!
Strainers keep ice from getting in mixed drinks, notably martinis. They are also very useful with some of the new exotics that have chunked fruit or shredded herbs, as they keep the drinks clear of debris while still imparting flavor.
Strainers are a straightforward solution to a basic problem, and they keep your bar habits versatile and professional in appearance. Whether yours is built into your cocktail shaker or is a separate Hamilton strainer, you will want to be sure you have one on hand.