You’re welcome for the grocery list, hope you didn’t break the bank, but now what do you need to properly prepare and serve your new collection?
I thought I’d break down the basics on glasses, guides, and gadgetry. As always, if your tastes take you in a different direction, run with it, it’s your collection, not mine. And, if you’re doing some type of specialization with your bar, then a greater variety of delivery apparatti may be needed, like tiki glasses, but this list will allow you to prepare and serve most, if not all, drinks, though you may lack in flair.
To help, where you see the hyper link on the word “glasses” or on a product, click and it should take you to an A-D approved version available online, or an example to then find your own unique version elsewhere. Further down I will explain those products which might not immediately come to mind for bar stocking. I will also discuss multitaskers that might not be as obvious to those who’ve not spent much time behind the stick. In a later blog I will break down a dozen or so must have kitchen items.
12 Red Wine glasses
12 White Wine glasses
8 Old Fashioned glasses
8 Coupe glasses
8 Grappa or Port glasses
8 Sipping glasses
8 Vodka or Cordial glasses
12 Pint glasses
12 Champagne flutes
12 Highball glasses
12 Tom Collins/Mojeto glasses
1 Punch Bowl
24 Punch Cups/Sherry glasses 2-4 oz
12 coffee mugs (Irish Coffees/Totties)
1 Carafe (water for tastings)
1 Pitcher (stirring/pouring eye openers)
Here is my collection, minus the Waterford old fashioneds, martini glasses, and my pint glasses.
One of my glassware cabinets.
Some sweet vodka/cordials my boss gave me.
I’ve got a bit more than I need.
Especially for the glassware, the examples I’m giving are those located at your local Sur La Table or Crate & Barrel. Look them up and get ideas of your own. By all means, please, find something second hand. Or if your tastes differ, then something a bit more flashy may be needed. But I’d suggest looking at the size and type of glass I’m suggesting before heading out shopping in antique stores. Smaller volume is generally better, cocktail recipes are usually about three ounces of booze, plus the ounce or so of melted ice that’s been diluted, leaves you with four ounces total of liquid, you don’t need a twelve ounce glass for four ounces of liquid. I use my old fashioned for a lot more than just an old fashioned. I like a very heavy bottom on those glasses. I like to feel I could throw one through some dry wall wall.
Glasses that can be used for more than one purpose are the way to go. Martini glasses are generally too large, unless you get antique versions. That’s why I suggest coupe glasses. They’re smaller and will work for any classic cocktail served up, or for champagne. Think of the glasses you see at Rick’s in Casablanca, or the glasses you see at any cocktail bar worth it’s salt. Again, you’re not looking to serve four ounces of liquid in a fish bowl. On the highballs and Tom Collins glasses, you may choose to go with one or the other. There is really no reason you can’t make a mojito, Tom Collins, El Diablo, rum and coke, cooler, or seven and seven in a highball, Collins, or standard pint glass. I prefer to have a second option other than pint glasses, because mine have logos, and that’s not classy. On pint glasses, just shop at your local tavern or brew pub. These random glasses also work well as conversation starters.
Another note on size, those individuals you deem worthy of an invite to have a drink at your home bar, should trust you’ll pour a proper pour of a good product, so, you don’t need to wow them with glass size and style, just with what’s in the glass. A well made three ounce drink in a heavy six or seven, volume, ounce glass is ideal, and you can always ask for a second cocktail, I know I’d join you.
Le Creuset Citrus Juicer
Boston Style Shaker
Yarai Mixing Glass
Kuhn Vegetable Peeler
Tea Strainer (for double straining)
Milk Shake Spoons
I like a Boston shaker, I’m not a fan of cleaning those three piece shakers, plus it like cooler and has more volume for making larger batches, but a safety note, never more than one egg at a time. I like the stirring pitcher, I think they add a touch of class over a pint glass when you’re building a Manhattan or Martini. For bar spoons, I have an antique one, if I were to buy a new one I’d go with something with a fork on the end for fishing garnishes out of jars. Some spoons have a flat Muddler on the end, these aren’t necessary due to the fact that you’ll naturally follow my advice and get a nice maple bat styled Muddler. Try cracking ice with a bar spoon, then try it with a maple stick. Both are possible, but I like that batty. You need the tea strainer for double straining your drinks, especially your fruit juiced concoctions, but also to strain your tea. Milk shake spoons are a nice addition. They can be used to sip and stir drinks. They’ll have a spoon end with the straw opening behind it. The various knives and peelers will make garnish preparation much easier. Most of this stuff will help you in the kitchen as well. I keep a lot of this stuff, juicer, grater, peeler, etc in the kitchen. The strainers, spoon, and shaker are the only things I have down in the bar.
These tools will have you stylishly crafting and serving fine drinks, but how will you know what booze to use?
The Joy of Mixology
Vintage Cocktails and Forgotten Spirits
The Joy of Mixology has about every drink you can imagine, besides the Last Word. It has a section on bar tools and stocking a bar. It also has a section on a sort of Bartender’s code of ethics as well as some insight on running a bar. It’s a solid reference guide. Imbibe goes deep into the origin and history of the cocktail, types of cocktails, and individual cocktails. It is an excellent resource for those wanting to geek out or to show off. I suggest only using it for geeking out purposes, otherwise you may find yourself in a “Harvard” bar situation, being schooled by some page quoting, original, individual who will be serving your children French fries. That would make you an unoriginal douche, and that can be embarrassing.
Another fun guide, that marries the first two, is Vintage Cocktails and Forgotten Spirits by Dr. Cocktail, Ted Haigh. This is a great book, full of history and tasty drinks. If it’s not in Haigh’s book or Hess’s, you probably don’t need to serve it. Unless it is a punch, but if you need a punch just email me. Unless, you’re really into this stuff, then go buy Imbibe’s companion Punch a great history and recipe book.
I might also throw in, the above mentioned, Robert Hess’s guide, The Essential Bartender’s Guide. It’s easy and quick to use and has color photographs. It is not as comprehensive as Joy of Mixology, but it’s a good starter and more approachable.
I’ve got a few more,
they’re great reference guides and are full of interesting tidbits and variations on the same drinks, allowing you to try these variations, learn these tidbits, and figure out which you enjoy most, and tell it’s story.
On guides, please search them out in a local, independent book store, like the Left Bank Book, if not, some day, we’ll only be able to read what Barne’s and Noble allows us, and only mix the cocktails B&N informs us of. On the glassware, try local boutiques. On the liquor, local liquor stores, I prefer the business practices of The Wine Merchant and 33 Wine. And when snagging pint glasses, snag from local pubs, but make sure and advertise for them at your home bar.
I know you’ll have more shopping to do now, but, I find that there’s no use pouring crap booze into generic glassware based on bad ratios from juvenile guides, so, I don’t, and if you cared enough to read this, you shouldn’t either, so just bite the bullet, this stuff doesn’t go out of style.