Style + Happy Hour

Happy Hour: Extras for the Home Bar

Now that Dry January is over, it’s time to restock our home bar.  So I thought I would write about some of the extras that we like to keep around the house to make our cocktails extra special.  Because just a few key ingredients can really spruce up a homemade cocktail.

Cubes. Good ice cubes make every cocktail better.  When we have parties, my husband will sometimes boil water to make large ice cubes for a first round of craft cocktails.  (After that, it’s a free-for-all.)  Boiling the water makes the cubes perfectly clear.

The best ice cube molds come from W&P.  We like the large spherical molds, but their pour in mold makes the best clear ice.

Glasses. I am big believer in great glassware.  You can find lovely vintage glasses at thrift shops and estate sales.  And drinking out of beautiful glasses is just a fun way to make a basic cocktail better.

These Gatsby Glasses from Anthropologie are gorgeous and unique.  I also love these Riedel Rum Mixing glasses for mixed drinks.  I also like to keep coupe glasses around for martinis and other smooth cocktails.

Shaker. People have strong opinions about bar shakers.  I bought the style that my favorite local bartender in D.C. used — shaking tins.

Other Tools. It’s important to have a citrus juicer and a peeler for zesting fruit.

Extras. My husband loves an Old Fashioned, so Amarena cherries are always on offer.  I like dehydrated blood oranges and limes for garnish.  Hibiscus flowers in syrup are also a nice garnish for a simple glass of sparkling wine.

You should also keep some bitters on hand.  I also like these Simple Three Mixers for making tasty cocktails at home.

If you make cocktails at home, what do you like to keep on hand?  Share it in the comments.

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  1. Diane says:

    These handmade copper mugs are fun for drinks, and not just mules: They also make a nice high-end gift for hard-to-shop for people.

    February 4, 2022/Reply
  2. SM says:

    A pretty decanter for wine! Nothing better than letting a good bottle of red wine breathe while getting dinner prepped.

    February 4, 2022/Reply
  3. Rachel says:

    I’ve recently started keeping many of Liber and Co’s syrups on hand for cocktails. You can certainly make many of your own syrups, but theirs are high quality and packed with flavor (if you’re craving tropical drinks at any point, the orgeat and toasted coconut syrups are a great improvement over the squeeze bottle stuff you find at many grocery stores or standard liquor stores). Plus the smaller bottles don’t take up much space in the fridge, but go a long way since the flavor is so concentrated. (Also, I am 95% sure that Abra has linked to one of their syrups or cordials in the past, which is how I believe found out about the brand!)

    February 4, 2022/Reply
  4. Lisa says:

    I received the Peak round ice cube mold as a gift and later replaced it with the Sveres Jumbo sphere mold from Whiskey Ball, because I preferred the larger size of my single-silicone-sphere mold (also received as a gift, lol). Anyway, that’s the long explanation for why I’ve tried a whole bunch of different spherical ice cube trays — and the Sveres one is hands-down the best. It clicks together neatly, with rigid plastic on top and soft silicone on the bottom so you can press spheres out after they’re frozen, and — most important — there’s a convenient fill line on the clear plastic top so you can actually see if you’re putting in the right amount of water in each spot. Plus the spheres are noticeably larger than the Peak ones, as big as my jumbo square ice cubes.

    February 4, 2022/Reply
  5. Rachel says:

    Not an “accessory,” but I recently started experimenting with using aquafaba (the liquid in a can of chickpeas) instead of egg whites in cocktails. It is great! So much less annoying than separating eggs, less smelly, less food-borne-illness danger, and so fancy-feeling. Give it a shot in a gin fizz or a whiskey sour. So pretty and so delicious.

    February 4, 2022/Reply
    • EMM says:

      Ah, I just had a fantastic mocktail made with aquafaba at a cocktail bar in DC. It made the drink SO much more complex, and I honestly preferred the texture to egg white.

      February 5, 2022/Reply
      • Carly says:

        What cocktail bar? And do we know the one Abra was referring to?

        February 7, 2022/Reply
  6. KC says:

    Late to comment, but wanted to chime in with a few things from a COVID-acquired cocktail hobby:
    1) If you want crystal clear ice cubes, highly recommend looking into “directional freezing.” Basically an insulated ice cube tray so that one end of the ice cube (that you end up using) freezes first while the impurities are trapped in the end that’s discarded. Some more intense cocktail enthusiasts will make a giant block in an Igloo cooler and then carve it up, but I like the Rabbit gadget for simplicity (
    2) Making dried citrus garnishes is super easy! Slice thin rounds and pop them on a cookie rack placed over a sheet pan in a 200 degree oven for 2-3 hours. I’m partial to blood oranges for the color, but lime/lemon/orange all work.
    3) Thrift stores are a great source for glassware, but don’t feel like you need to have the “perfect” glass for every cocktail. Between a coupe, rocks glass, and a Collins glass (if you like highballs) there’s few specialty glasses needed.

    February 18, 2022/Reply