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Home Bar Essentials: Tools, Mixers, Garnishes & More

by Jim Passantino April 18, 2023 4 min read

Home Bar Essentials: Tools, Mixers, Garnishes & More

A home bar is a great addition to any household, whether you're a professional bartender or just enjoy hosting gatherings with friends and family. Building a home bar is a fun and rewarding experience, but it can also be overwhelming, especially if you're not sure where to start. 

In this article, we'll discuss the essential bartending tools, drinks, mixers, and other items you need to create a fully stocked and functional home bar. From cocktail shakers to spirits, we've got you covered.

Bartending Tools Everyone Should Have in Their Home Bar

To create professional-quality cocktails, you'll need the right tools. Here are some essential bartending tools you should have in your home bar.

Cocktail Shaker

A cocktail shaker is essential for creating mixed drinks like martinis, daiquiris, and margaritas. A shaker is used to mix ingredients together, chill the drink, and create a frothy texture.


A jigger is a small measuring cup used to measure ingredients accurately. It's an essential tool for creating cocktails with balanced flavors.


A strainer is used to remove ice and other solid ingredients from a mixed drink. It's essential for creating cocktails that are smooth and free of debris.


A muddler is used to crush fresh herbs, fruits, and other ingredients to release their flavors. It's an essential tool for creating drinks like mojitos and old fashioneds.

Bar Spoon

A bar spoon is used to stir cocktails and layer drinks. It's a versatile tool that every bartender should have in their kit.

Cocktail Smoker

To take many cocktails to another level, it’s worth investing in a cocktail smoker as they’ve become much more affordable in recent years.

Wood Chips

If you have a cocktail smoker then you're going to need wood chips and it's best to have a variety on hand as some are better suited for specific types of smoked cocktails.

    Drinks Essentials for Your Home Bar

    Now that you have your bartending tools, it's time to stock your home bar with essential spirits. Here are some must-have spirits for your home bar.


    Vodka is a versatile spirit that's used in a variety of cocktails, from martinis to Bloody Marys. It's also a great base for infusions and homemade liqueurs.


    Gin is a classic spirit used in cocktails like the martini, gin and tonic, and negroni. It has a distinct flavor profile that's perfect for creating complex cocktails.


    Rum is a staple in tropical cocktails like the mojito and piña colada. It's also used in classic drinks like the daiquiri and the mai tai.


    Tequila is used in classic cocktails like the margarita and the tequila sunrise. It's also a great spirit for sipping on its own or with a squeeze of lime.


    Whiskey is a complex spirit that's used in a variety of cocktails, from the classic Manhattan to the whiskey sour. It's also great for sipping on its own or with a splash of water.

      Must Have Mixers for Your Home Bar

      In addition to spirits, you'll need mixers to create balanced cocktails. Here are some essential mixers to have in your home bar:

      Fresh Citrus Juice

      Fresh citrus juice is essential for creating balanced cocktails. Lemons, limes, and oranges are all great options.

      Simple Syrup

      Simple syrup is a mixture of sugar and water that's used to sweeten cocktails. It's an essential ingredient in drinks like the mojito and the Tom Collins.


      Bitters are a concentrated flavoring agent made from herbs, spices, and other botanicals. They're used to add complexity and balance to cocktails.

      Club Soda

      Club soda is a carbonated water that's used to add effervescence to cocktails. It's a common ingredient in drinks like the Tom Collins and the gin fizz.
      Tonic water: Tonic water is a carbonated beverage that's flavored with quinine.

        Garnishes Every Home Bar Should Have

        Citrus Fruits

        Fresh citrus fruits like lemons, limes, and oranges are essential for adding a burst of flavor and acidity to your cocktails. They can also be used to garnish your drinks by adding a slice or a twist to the glass.


        Fresh herbs like mint, basil, and rosemary can be used to add a subtle and refreshing flavor to your cocktails. They can be muddled in the bottom of the glass or used as a garnish.


        Maraschino cherries are a classic garnish for cocktails like the Manhattan and the Old Fashioned. They add a sweet and fruity flavor to the drink and look great as a garnish.


        Olives are a popular garnish for cocktails like the martini and the bloody mary. They add a salty and savory flavor to the drink and can be stuffed with various fillings like blue cheese or garlic.

        Sugar or Salt

        Rimming the glass with sugar or salt is a great way to add flavor and texture to your cocktails. For example, a margarita is often served with a salt rim, while a cosmopolitan can be served with a sugar rim.

          Wrapping Things Up

          Building a home bar can be a fun and rewarding experience. By having the right bartending tools, spirits, and mixers on hand, you'll be able to create a variety of delicious cocktails for yourself and your guests. Remember to experiment with different flavors and ingredients to find your signature drink. 

          And, most importantly, enjoy the process and have fun! With a little practice, you'll be mixing up drinks like a pro in no time. So, go ahead and stock your home bar with the essentials, invite some friends over, and let the good times roll. Cheers!

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