Best Bar Essentials Buying Guide

Happy Holidays Everyone!
It’s been a bit of a hiatus for me, but I’m back in the saddle (a.k.a. desk chair!) and ready to keep the season’s festivities rolling along with some stellar finds for entertaining in style when it comes my favorite part of a party- the drinks!

With New Year’s Eve–the king of all cocktail nights– coming this week, thought I’d highlight a few virtual finds in the way of bar essentials that not only look fantastic, but will make you feel like a master mixologist as you countdown to midnight. You don’t need a lot of fancy gear or gadgets to create the classic cocktails at home. Just a couple basic tools for measuring, a few special ingredients for mixing and some ultra-chic stemware to make your friends feel like million bucks whilst they’re sipping their Old Fashioned, Dirty Martini or seasonal fruit sparkler.

Bar carts: these are the hottest thing going right now. New designs along with vintage-finds,  the concept of having a dedicated piece of furniture for drinks & stemware did not go out with the lava lamps of the 60’s….in fact, these carts more popular than ever. They’re a great way to corral all your drink components and stemware in one place whilst showcasing your favorite brands of spirits, mixers and shiny barware.
bar carts collage

[BUYING GUIDE] -All carts shown from chairish.com– 1) Modern Italian Gio Ponti Style Bar Cart $1150, 2) Mid-Century Rolling Glass Top Bar Cart $270, 3) Industrial Steel Factory Cart on Wheels $675, 4) Vintage Brass Gold Bar Cart $300, 5) Danish Teak Bar Cart $699 

Bar Tools: these are the bar tools which afford me the most versatility for the majority of drinks I make year-round. I couldn’t live without my fun penguin cocktail shaker as it has the strainer built-in to the top. The spoon/muddler combo swizzle stick is a handy tool- eliminating the need for a separate muddler for most drinks. Look for a double-jigger to make measuring a cinch. Use the larger end for the spirit and the smaller end for the mixer, bitters, or syrup. This glass & decanter drying rack is a lifesaver after a big gathering. It safely drys up to 16 stems (plus a decanter) then neatly folds flat for storage!

bar buying guide- tools

 

[BUYING GUIDE] 1) Penguin Cocktail Shaker/Strainer $33.99 | truefabrictations.com, 2) Oenophilia Fusion 16 Stemware/Decanter Rack $39.99 | wayfair.com 3) SS Martini Picks/set 6 | surlatable.com $12, 4) Paper Straws in Gold & Silver Dots, $5 | parksidepapers.com,  5) Spoon/Muddler Swizzle Stick $14.95 | williams-sonoma.com and Double jigger $5.50 | winebranch.com, 6) Silver & Gold Hexagram Ice Bucket $125 | markandgraham.com, 7) Paper cocktail napkins $5.95 | buttercupblossom.com 8) Citrus Juicer by Norpro $22.99 | jet.com

Barware: I must admit- I do have a weakness for stemware. Anything with a mid-century/modern vibe that’s practical to use and pretty to look at is definitely going in my stemware cabinet. If you’re serious about exploring and enjoying the world of drinks, you’ll need to have a few basic shapes in barware to create the traditional tipples we all know and love. Best to have a couple of styles of shorter tumblers like an Old Fashioned/Rocks glass (6-ounce) or slightly taller ones like a Double Old Fashioned (12-ounce). These work great for Whiske(y)/Scotch-based drinks or a simple G&T.  Also on hand should be a standard Martini glass (5-ounce), Champagne flute or glass (I like the coupe-style), a Highball/Collins or tall tumbler (8-ounce) for layered drinks, iced tea, Mojitos–any type of cocktail or mocktail where a larger amount of liquid or ice is added. And don’t forget a decanter. Traditionally used to aerate wines, a stylish crystal decanter also makes a beautiful water pitcher for the bar.
bar buying guide- barware

 

[BUYING GUIDE] 1) ‘Mad Men’ Whisky Glasses $24.95/set 2 | Viceroy, 2) Riedel ‘Grape’ Champagne Coupe/set 2 $64 | williams-sonoma.com, 3) Vintage Gilt & Floral Etched Beverage Set $225 | chairish.com, 4) Mixology Mad Men Holloway Edition DOF Glass/set 2 $175 | waterford.com, 5) Mid-Century Martini Glass/set 4 $49 | chairish.com 6) Madison Avenue Whisky Decanter $29.95 | wineenthusiast.com / Riedel ‘O’ Single Decanter $225 | riedelusa.net / Ravenscroft® Crystal Ultra Magnum Decanter $64.99 | bedbathandbeyond.com, 7) Vintage Silver/Chrome Striped Tumbler/set 4 $25.00 | chairish.com, 8) Vintage Gold Gilt Lacquerware Nesting Trays /set 2 | chairish.com

Bar Ingredients: here’s where some serious fun comes in. The holidays are a great time to experiment with some of the lesser-known bar ingredients and adding one or two new liqueurs or mixers to your bar cart will help you break-up the drinks routine and get creative. I personally believe that bitters and tonics are the most underrated bar essentials. With the craft movement on both so incredibly strong today, there are oodles and oodles of hand-made, artisan brands to choose from—each using wonderful & obscure botanicals, herbs, and fruits to produce some amazing combinations. And be sure to splash out on a couple of really fine quality base spirits (like a Bourbon, Gin or Vodka) from which you can build various kinds of drinks. Starting with the good stuff, will only make your home bartending that much more rewarding (and delicious!). Cheers to a New Year!
bar buying guide- ingredients

[BUYING GUIDE] 1) Sonoma Rye Whiskey Cask Strength $65 | sonomacountydistilling.com 2) St.Germain Elderflower Liqueur $42.99 / Licor 43 Liqueur $24.99  / Yellow & Green Chartreuse Liqueur from 33.99 | bevmo.com, 3) Bittermilk Charred Grapefruit Tonic $15 | bittermilk.com / Fee Brothers Gin Barrel Aged Orange Bitters $14.95 | kegworks.com 4) Demerara Sugar Cubes $9.95 | hellabitters.com, 5) Fever-tree Bitter Lemon & Elderflower Tonics from $5.99Waialua Pineapple & Liliko’i Sodas | bevmo.com, 6) Metallic Gold Rimming Sugar $11 | dellcovespices.com

*No sponsored links, just a curated collection of some great brands/products I wanted to share with you all! *

Entourage Elixir ~ A Tequila Cocktail

Happy National Tequila Day!
entourage exlixir-1

I created this tequila and bitter lemon drink right after seeing the Entourage Movie. If you saw it, then you’ll know why tequila was on my  brain. As soon as I walked in the door, I went over to my liquor cabinet, pulled out the Tequila Avión Reposado (that’s my fav, and looks like I need to buy more!), then rummaged around the “mixer” compartment in my fridge –better known to most people as the crisper bin, but alas mine has never seen even a leaf of a vegetable, just lots of stuff to mix with booze!–and found a bitter lemon mixer. Viola, my Entourage Elixir was born. Talk about the power of suggestion huh!

If you aren’t familiar with the Entourage tie-in, read the full story here. But here’s a quick explanation: the original Entourage series on HBO® first introduced the Tequila Avión brand to the masses here in the U.S. through an on-going storyline with one of the characters. Most people thought it was just a made up brand for the series. They had no idea it was a real Tequila. Once people realized they could buy it….well, the rest is history. And movie spoiler alert: we learn it’s ultimately how Turtle made his millions. Zoing!
tequila avion reposado | whiskandmuddler.com
tequila avion reposado | whiskandmuddler.com

My choice for the mixer– no brainer- had to be FeverTreeI love their brand of tonics and mixers. I typically use their Bitter Lemon or Sparkling Lemon. They’re truly a cut above the rest. Can’t wait to try their new Elderflower tonic water too! What I like about either of their lemon bottlings is the bitterness is mixed in with just a touch of sweetness. They both have the undeniable flavor of true British bitter lemon soda. And bubbles add a nice touch to any cocktail right!
fevertree and san pellegrino mixers | whiskandmuddler.com
fevertree and san pellegrino mixers | whiskandmuddler.com
entourage exlixir | whiskandmuddler.com

If you really want to get into the spirit of today (ha, pun totally intended), then enjoy this sip with my Margarita Shrimp Tacos. Cheers to the conclusion of a great show and all-things Tequila.  Salud!


Entourage Elixir
yields one serving |  Entourage Elixir- A Tequila Cocktail PDF

3 ounces Tequila
half bottle (3.5 ounces) FeverTree Bitter Lemon or Sparkling Lemon Mixer
juice of one lemon and one lime
lemon or lime slice to garnish

Combine tequila and citrus juices in a shaker over ice. Shake well. Pour into tumbler glass over ice. Top with lemon mixer. Garnish with citrus slice.


Notes:
If you can’t find FeverTree Bitter Lemon or Sparkling Lemon, use any bitter citrus soda like San Pellegrino Pompelmo (grapefruit)….or a brand you like. For the Tequila, I used Reposado (my favorite) but a Blanco/Silver or Añejo works fine too. Just make sure it’s the good stuff!
*not a sponsored post*