The Sharp Home Bar

Submitted by SharpMan Editorial Team on Sunday 10th October 2010
In this article
  • The tools.
  • The booze.
  • The drinks.
The Sharp Home Bar

"Would you like to come up for a drink?" Of course she would, assuming the date has gone well so far. But if she ends up watching you clumsily rooting around your kitchen in search of that bottle of Jack and some flat coke, she may soon be on her way out the door. The bar-savvy bachelor makes a much better impression.

Setting up Shop

Having a home bar does not necessitate having one hundred different liquors, an ice machine and four kinds of draft beer. The most popular bar drinks can be made with four or five liquors and a few pieces of equipment.

Glassware

Elegant presentation is essential for drinks from any SharpBar. Certain drinks are best served in specific glasses. One could spend a fortune buying glasses for every drink, but two or three main types of glasses are essential for any good bar. Drinks are traditionally served on the rocks (with ice) or "up" (no ice). You should have a different glass for each style:

Double old-fashioneds are low, "tumbler-style" glasses used for drinks served "on the rocks." The have a heavier base, allowing them to sit comfortably in the hand for leisurely sipping. While double old fashions can range in price from low to wow!, it’s quite possible to find a good home bar glass for $10 to $100. Italian glassmaker Luigi Bormioli makes a handsome set that is also well-priced at $22.50 for a set of four.

Martini glasses are the container of choice for martinis, cosmopolitans, Gibsons, gimlets and manhattans served "up." Glasses for martinis and other drinks served this way are generally made of thinner glass and always have a glass stem (explaining the "up" part). Like with double old-fashioneds, martini glasses range from $6 to $100, but well-priced starters are available for as low as four for $21.95. Check out these SharpMan picks, ready for klutz-proof home delivery.

Other glasses are based on your preference. If you drink wine, you should have two sets of glasses, one for white and one for red. (For more information on why wine glasses add to the wine-drinking experience, check out Wine Toys For Your LovePad.) Margaritas can be served in martini glasses, but if you have a penchant for frozen margaritas, you may want special glasses for them.

When buying glasses, buy what you like. Each type of glass is available in several styles and often in different colors. While clear glasses are traditional, your glassware collection should suit your house. Crystal glasses, while very elegant and appealing, are not necessary or durable. Blends of glass and crystal are best because they have the appearance of crystal but the sturdiness (and price tag!) of glass.

Bar Gadgets

A cocktail shaker, bar measure and strainer are essential for any home bar. These three items are sold separately, but often can be less expensive when sold in a set. The SharpMan pick, the Oggi Cocktail Set pictured here, is durable, machine washable, and a great deal for all three.

Depending on how much beer and wine you serve, you should also have both a wine and a bottle opener (see Wine Toys For Your LovePad for types and tricks). The wine and beer opener are often available in one tool.

While the openers, shaker, strainer and bar measure will allow you to make most bar drinks, in order to expand your repertoire, the following items are also useful:

A blender is handy for daiquiris and margaritas. When choosing a blender, it is better to go to the trouble and expense of getting a good one, otherwise you’ll find your cheapo "bargain" can’t do the ice-crushing job you bought it for. What’s "cheapo?" We would suggest moving out of the $29-$49 range and into the $79-$99 range. It’s more money, but at least your machine will work. Cuisinart makes a great ice-grade bar blender that works as hard as you play: check out the Seven-Speed Bar Blender for a glimpse at a truly great blender (this has it at about 40 percent off suggested retail).

Other cool bar tools include a "zester," which is a small utensil that allows you to make those lemon and lime curlicues for martinis, etc.

Essential Liquors

Liquors for your bar depend on your personal preference. Your home bar should start with your favorite liquor, and other types can be added gradually. Below are three sets of liquor used for the most common bar drinks. Begin with the first set and add the other alcohol as needed.

First, vodka, gin, dry vermouth, and rum will allow you to make martinis, gin and tonic, vodka tonic, planter’s punch, rum and coke, and several other drinks.

The next set, bourbon, sweet vermouth, tequila, triple sec, and citron, will add the manhattan, margarita, and cosmopolitan to your repertoire.

The final set is full of extras that depend on your taste: Scotch for Rob Roys, peach schnapps for sex on the beach, Irish whisky and Bailey’s for an Irish coffee, etc.

Olives, cherries, lemons, limes, bitters, various sodas and juices will complete your bar.

Sharp Cocktails

Below are recipes for some of the most requested cocktails. It’s also not a bad idea to invest in a good bar book, such as The Ultimate A-Z Bar Guide, by Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst.

Martini

Traditionally made with gin, martinis made with vodka are also gaining in popularity. Two and one-half ounces of gin (or vodka) and one teaspoon (or less depending on taste) dry vermouth are placed with ice into the cocktail shaker. The drink is shaken, strained into a martini glass, and garnished with olives or a twist of lemon.

Martinis used to be stirred and never shaken. Nowadays, they are most often shaken, though a few people still prefer them the old-fashioned way.

Margarita

Two ounces of tequila, one-half ounce of triple sec, one and one-half ounce of fresh lime juice and ice are combined in a shaker (or blender for a frozen margarita). If you prefer a salted glass, prepare it while the drink is chilling. To salt a glass, run a lime wedge around its rim and then twist the glass upside down on a plate of coarse ground salt. Shake, then strain the mixture into a martini or margarita glass for a margarita "up." A margarita "on the rocks" should be shaken and poured into a double old-fashioned or other all-purpose glass. Garnish with a wedge of lime.

Liquor and Soda

Rum and coke, gin and tonic, and others are prepared with the same basic recipe. Fill a double old-fashioned glass with ice. Add one and one-half to two ounces of liquor, fill with the soda of choice, stir and serve.

Cosmopolitan

Prepare as you would a martini "up," but with the following ingredients: one and one-half ounces of vodka or citron, three-quarters of an ounce of Cointreau or triple sec, one and one-half teaspoons of lime juice, and three-quarters of an ounce of cranberry juice. Garnish with a lime wedge or lemon twist.

This article last updated on Sunday 10th October 2010
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