Few things are better than getting home at the end of a long, tiring day, turning up the music on your stereo, and mixing yourself a freshly made cocktail. In our humble opinion, it’s the finest way to unwind, and when done correctly, it’s your chance to not only kick back and relax, but also take your senses on a delicious journey of discovery.
Having a top quality home bar is a delight that just keeps on giving. The more you explore the fascinating and varied world of fine wines, artisan spirits, and tempting mixers, the better it all becomes. However, taking your home bar experiences to a whole other level is something which does take some planning and thought… although it’s the kind of thing you won’t mind adding to your to-do list, as the pleasure the results bring vastly outweighs any effort you put in. To help you raise your home bar game, we’ve come up with ten fantastic ideas that’ll make your home bar the envy of your friends, and the highlight of your day. Read on to find out more!
If you don’t already have a signature cocktail – one which reflects your personality, your taste in spirits, and which you make better than anyone else you know – it’s high time to rectify this! Every drinks lover should be able to whizz up at least one fantastic cocktail with their eyes closed, and which has been tweaked and tailored to suit the minutiae of your personal preferences. It might take some time (and plenty of experimenting) to hit that sweet spot of perfection, but once you get there, you’ll be able to mix your favourite mixers and spirits for ultimate satisfaction every time. What’s more, having a signature cocktail never fails to impress a date!
The world of spirits is a vastly varied one, and as any connoisseur will tell you, there’s usually a vast difference between those bottles at the top end of the market, and those which everyone and his dog has in their liquor cabinet. If you’re a particularly big fan of a Scotch single malt, for example, or of Cuban rum etc, do yourself and your bar a favour by picking up one of the best bottles you can afford. You’ll instantly raise your home bar game to entirely new levels, and will open doors to new levels of aroma, character, and flavour. The path or connoisseurship awaits!
Every spirit has its own personality, its own history, and no shortage of stories to learn and explore. Whether you’re a gin drinker, a Bourbon fanatic, or an Armenian brandy aficionado, learning more about your favourite spirit will pique your curiosity and develop your passion, leading you to appreciate it all the more. Your palate will be developed, and you’ll become the one your mates will turn to when it comes to top recommendations and advice.
Classic cocktails gain their classic status for a reason – because they’re real crowd-pleasers, and they’ve evolved over time to have a broad appeal. Knowing how to mix up the classics is one of the best ways to turn your home bar into a real feature for your friends and loved ones, and it’s sure to give your social status a proper kick-start as you continue your journey to becoming the host with the most. Perfect gin and tonic, a flawless Old Fashion, a sublime dry Martini… these are just a few of the basics you’ll then be able to fine-tune to your own preferences.
Garnishes are often overlooked as something a little frivolous and unimportant, but ask any experienced mixologist, and they’ll jump at the chance to tell you what a massive difference they can make. Take gin as an example – today’s gin scene is massively varied and exciting, not least because gin distilleries are using a broader palette of botanicals and extracts than ever before. Each of these allows the cocktail maker to highlight certain flavours through the use of garnishes, and inject a certain je ne sais quois to the cocktail that allows it to truly hit the high notes!
Most home bars will usually have a fairly familiar rosta of spirits; a decent gin, a quality Scotch, a well-known rum and vodka etc. A few might have some quality brandies and Cognacs, too, alongside other beloved classics of the drinks world. If you want to really up your game, however, it’s never a bad idea to expand your horizons, and be on the lookout for more obscure spirits which pack a real punch of flavour. Whether these are local favourites picked up on your holidays, or artisan specialities made with real love and care, the unusual, the quirky, and the unexpected really do have the potential to become brand new favourites.
To say that there is an astounding number and array of gadgets, gizmos, and devices out there to experiment with and buy would be the understatement of the century. Bringing some technology to your home bar can make a real difference to your drinks, as well as opening new avenues for your mixology skills. While it’s fair to say that some drinks gadgets are little more than gimmicks, designed to part the foolish with their money, others really do work very well. Take the wine aerator, for example: such a simple idea – a small device to pop on the end of your bottle, which oxidises your vino as you pour it!
The gin scene over the past decade has undoubtedly gone interstellar, and more and more people are exploring the potential of the ever-growing range on offer. One way to take your spirits game (and to be fair, this is mostly about gin, but other spirits could be included here) to another level is to explore different aromatics and matching tonics, which provide herbal and spice notes to your cocktails which deepen the flavour and highlight secondary and tertiary notes in the spirit. Popular choices include saffron, anise, hibiscus flowers, and caraway, and these can be picked up at any good bottle shop or even supermarket.
Few things are more unpleasant than sipping on a room temperature Martini, or an over-chilled and flattened glass of quality wine. All alcoholic drinks are massively affected by temperature, and knowing the ideal temperatures for serving and enjoying your spirits and wines can really make a big difference to how they come across on the palate. Read up on temperatures and ideal serving conditions, adjust the dial on your cooler, and hit that sweet spot every time!
Sure, the glassware isn’t probably as important as the quality of the spirit you’re drinking… but that’s not to say it’s completely insignificant. Having a home bar is all about decadence, enjoyment of life, and treating yourself to something special. As such, having beautiful or unique glassware is an easy way to dial up the pleasure, and make a bigger impact when serving cocktails to your friends and guests. Get yourself something special, and be sure to stand out from the crowd.