This gift guide for your 2017 holiday shopping is going to help you travel the road of home mixology. Building a home bar takes time. It’s like a big collection that you add to every month, every year. It grows and ages with you. It improves as your skills improve. And after years of refinement, failures, and mastery it’s as unique as a snowflake on a cold Christmas morn.
Below we’ve compiled a list of gifts you can buy online this month if you’re hoping to help someone special build an entire home bar. Alternatively, if you know someone who’s already started collecting glasses or bottles but needs a great bar or decanters, this is the list for you.
No. No. We don’t mean go out to a bank to get a small business loan to buy a brick and mortar bar. We guess, sure, you could do this if you wanna spend the next years of your life slinging drinks until two every morning. But, no. We’re talking about a small bar you can put in your home.
This is probably one of the bigger expenses in building your own home bar. But it’s worth it if you don’t want your bar gear spread all over the kitchen. There are a lot of options here. You can go old-school adventurer and snag the classic bar inside a globe. But those are all show and offer little practicality. A great home bar is both a storage space for glasses, gear, and bottles and a work surface to whip up awesome drinks. We’re talking a piece of furniture that’ll fit in your house and serve a great purpose.
Prices generally start around $180 for a decent bar.
Okay, you have your bar. Now you’re going to need something to serve those drinks in. Old mayo jars are for college students and drunk punch, not someone who’s invested in a home bar and learned the finer notes of stirring a nice manhattan.
There are a lot of sets out there that’ll get your bar going. Our advice is to gift a set of rocks and highballs to the one you love. You can serve a large array of mixed drinks and cocktails in either glass, including beer, in a pinch. You can collect old coupes and cocktail glasses later.
Prices are going to hoover around $30 for a 16-piece set.
There are a lot of cocktail shakers out there. What you’re looking for is something durable. If it’s too flashy, it’s probably not that practical.
A good rule of thumb is to spy a set that’s a Boston Shaker (that’s a base shaker with a pint glass top), a few jiggers, a stirring spoon, muddler, and strainer. The metal should be stainless steel because it’s non-reactive. From there, anything else is going to be superfluous.
A decent cocktail shaker set will cost around $12.
This is part aesthetic and part utility. You can 100 percent stir a great cocktail in the pint glass that comes with your Boston Shaker. Or you can pull out one of these beauties and stir up your martinis like a boss. The benefit here is the thickness of the glass and pouring spout. Basically, bartenders hold the bottom of the mixer while stirring. When the outside gets cold, you know the drink is properly stirred and chilled. It’ll up your game and make it easier to mix great drinks all at the same time.
A nice cut glass cocktail mixing jug shouldn’t set you back more than $20.
This may seem a bit much. You can store ice in the freezer and take it out as you need it. But if you’re whipping up multiple drinks and don’t want to be moving back and forth from the freezer. Get a decent ice bucket that’ll keep the ice nice and cold.
This is dealer’s choice. Try and match something to your own bar’s decor. Other than that, look for something double walled with a lid.
A good bucket will cost around $30.
If you’re mixing a good cocktail, you’re going to need bitters and some form of sweetener. A good accent to any bar is to decant these bar ingredients into some nice glassware. A set of dashers and a syrup decanting bottle makes you look way more pro than any home bar has a right to look.
Being able to grind a bit of nutmeg, allspice, or other spices and barks is crucial to a lot of great recipes — especially if you’re making egg nog for everybody this Christmas. Even more so, if you want to make a long list of Tiki drinks.
Mills need to be durable. They’re under a lot of pressure and are meant to grind very hard materials. So don’t scrimp here.
A decent nutmeg mill costs around $25.
Every bar needs bitters. You can’t make most cocktails without these super-concentrated accentuations. You just can’t.
Amazon has the set for you with three bottles: Angostura, Peychaud’s, and Orange. These three bitters will get you the lion’s share of cocktails made. The bottles last a fair amount of time if you’re just mixing on the weekends at home, so they’re cost-effective. And, if you’ve invested in some cool dashers, you have a great way to store them!
A three bottle set costs $26.99.
A great recipe book is the foundation of any home bar. You’ll need a good base to start your journey along the mixologist’s well trod road.
There are a lot of books out there. One of our favorites is The Drunken Botanist by Amy Stewart. The book covers how the booze is made, the alchemy behind distillation, and a seriously deep set of recipes to get you started.
It’s $15.59 for a hardcover on Amazon.
The rest is simply stocking your bar. That’s the booze, syrups, and garnishes which you’ll need to make cocktails. Syrups and garnishes are parishable, so buy those as you go. A good rule of thumb is to have a bottle of Grenadine, Gomme, Simple, and maybe Orgeat on hand. The latter is crucial for a great Mai Thai.
As for booze, the sky really is the limit. Start with a good bottles you actually like drinking straight up and go from there. Essential are bourbon or rye, gin, vodka, tequila, brandy, rum, vermouth, and triple sec. Those bottles are going to be used in anybody’s bar often. So the likelyhood of them sitting on the shelf, undrunk is low.