Essential Barware for Hosts
Written by: Tania Taylor Griffis
Let us face it; we do not really need barware.
Cocktails can be sipped from almost any vessel, from mason jars to a plastic, red, disposable cup. The drinking experience, however, should be special and enjoyed with all five of the senses. A good-looking drink complete with twisted or speared garnishes should amaze the eyes, while ears attune to the melody of ice clinking against the glass. The glass should feel comfortable and weighted properly in your hands as you slowly swirl the liquid. The aroma of the drink should tantalize your taste buds as you lift the glass and take the first cautious sip that slowly warms your palate. For this type of full-sensory experience that elevates the art of drinking, there are a few tools worth investing in.
There are various types of glasses with which to stock a home bar. While each host might choose more or less depending on his or her type of hosting and drink preferences, a good basic set would include:
- Martini Glass. The iconic martini glass is easy to spot thanks to its shape, but contrary to the name, it can be used to serve more than just martinis. This glass can be considered an all-purpose cocktail glass and used for any type of 6-ounce or under drink that is served without ice.
- Highball Glass. The highball comes in handy for drinks served on the rocks that have more volume to them.
- Lowball Glass. Similar to the aforementioned highball, the lowball is meant for serving drinks with ice that are a bit more pungent. The lowball is ideal for most whiskey-based drinks.
- Shot Glass. As you may have already guessed, the shot glass in which shots are served. Tequila, anyone?
- Red and White Wine Glasses. Red wine glasses are typically bowl-shaped and have a larger opening to help with oxidation of wine, which enhances the taste. White wine, however, is poured into a glass with a smaller mouth to reduce the speed and rate of oxidation.
- Champagne Flute. Champagne flutes are quite distinctive; they are long and skinny and meant to be grasped by the stem to discourage body heat from transferring to the liquid, as champagne is always served cold.
- Beer Glass. The death of any upscale party is seeing guests walk around with cans of beer, so be sure to stock up on beer glasses and keep things classy.
- Decanters. Rather than a bar stocked with mismatched bottles and brands of liquors with peeling labels, refine your collection by pouring each into its own decanter. If you prefer a neat, orderly display, purchase multiples of the same decanter. Embrace a more eclectic focal point by purchasing a variety of decanters with a common theme, like wood stoppers or a crystal finish.
- Champagne Stopper and Bucket. A champagne stopper is one of the most crucial items to keep on hand. It will create a tight seal that allows champagne to keep its bubbles if, for some unfathomable reason, an open bottle of champagne is not finished right away. Equally crucial to ensuring a sparkling wine sparkles is to make sure the beverage is chilled, so grab a champagne bucket as well.
- Bar Towel. One of the most important things every bar needs is a clean bar top, so use an absorbent bar towel to keep the surface clean and dry. You can even grab a jar of the appropriately named Barkeeper’s Friend cleaner to keep your glassware sparkling clean.
- A Stainless Steel Jigger. A jigger is a must-have for anyone making drinks as it helps one portion out the correct amounts of alcohol. Most jiggers are double-sided, with one side measuring 1½ ounces and the other side measuring ¾ ounces.
- Cocktail Shaker. Prefer your drink shaken, not stirred? Even if you do not, your guests might so make sure to add a cocktail shaker to your cart.
- Stirrer. Other guests will prefer their martini stirred and not shaken, so have a stirrer on hand for good measure.
- Muddler. There are few tools that can substitute for a muddler, and it will be used more often than you think. A muddler helps you add key flavor to a drink, like mint in a mojito or julep.
- Strainer. A strainer is most often used to let liquid flow into a drink while keeping ice behind. It also can be used to separate muddled ingredients from the drink.
- Peeler. A peeler will help you add garnish to your drinks, like a lemon twist or an orange peel. A knife can accomplish the same thing in a pinch but with a lot less finesse and ease.
- Ice Mold. In cocktails, ice is often the unsung hero and an afterthought, but it is a key component to almost every drink. Use filtered water with an ice mold to create clean ice, and use the ice while it is fresh; do not let it sit in your freezer for months. Different drinks call for different shaped ice, so purchase both large and small molds for good measure.
Curious which to use when? Check the recipe for the drink being made; the type of suggested glass is almost always mentioned.