Building a Home Bar- Tools of the Trade

I’ve been getting a number of requests recently to write about building your own home bar. I am by no means an expert in this regard but am happy to speak to my own approach. Let me be clear- my home bar is very much a work in progress. I would venture to guess that it will never quite feel complete. But with a little attention and TLC, we’ve been quite happy with what we’ve been able to put together.

A note that everything in here should be taken with a grain of salt. If all you want to do is sip on a good bourbon at the end of the day, you don’t need 99% of the items listed below. But if you are looking to partake in some simple cocktails at home or entertain a couple of guests, this list is a decent starting point.


Basic Tools:

1) A jigger- for proper measurements of all ingredients. No need to get anything gold plated.
2) A strainer (Julep or Hawthorne)
3) A shaker (Boston or regular)
4) A solid pairing knife

Bonus Tools:

1) Bar spoon- You can stir your cocktail with a straw if needed. The mixing spoon is a nice addition if you want to invest
2) Mixing glass- Again, you can stir you cocktails in a pint glass if it works for you. If you’re looking for the next step up, consider investing in a Yarai.
3) A citrus juice press- feel free to squeeze ‘em by hand but this certainly makes the job easier.
4) A muddler- For all your muddling needs.
5) A Y-peeler- Excellent for garnishing your cocktails and for removing skin to add lemon or orange oil.
6) A Channel Knife- When a recipe calls for “a twist” this is what you need.
7) Ice Cube Trays- You can certainly pick these up at your local Dollar Store; however, I love having silicone trays at home. It’s going to sound pretentious, but the more you drink the more you realize the quality of your ice matters. Consider investing.


Basic Glassware:

1) Tumblers (pictured above)- These glasses are great for everything from an Old Fashioned to a Mojito. No need to invest huge amounts. You can get a set of four at a decent price point.
2) Coupes (pictured below)- For any cocktails served up. I use mine for Manhattans, Daiquiris, etc.


Bonus Glassware:

1) Copper Mugs (pictured below)- Generally used to serve a Moscow Mule.
2) Collins or Highball- Tend to use these for a Pimm’s Cup, Mai Tai, Long Island Iced Tea, etc.
3) Champagne Flutes- Nice to have for French 75’s and on New Years Eve.
4) Hurricane Glasses- because I’m cheeky and I’m a complete sucker for a Pina Colada.


If you’re thrifty and willing to take the time to hunt, many of these items can be found at your local second hand store (especially the glassware). Almost all of these items can be found at Parched Pengiun which carries a an amazing selection of glassware and bar tools with an emphasis on quality at every price point. If you’re living in Vancouver, many of their items can also be found at Atkinson’s which is my personal go-to.

On a final note, even if you’re working on a tight budget and aren’t looking to over-commit to your home bar, I’d suggest finding one piece that’s “yours”. This doesn’t have to involve dropping $100 on a single glass, but find yourself something that you’ll reach for on a day that’s extra special or extra hard.

A very special thank you to the folks at Parched Penguin for providing the stunning glassware and bar tools for this shoot! Cheers!