At this point, we have our bar hardware and we have our essential bottles. We are almost ready to get started; however, there are a few best practices I thought I would discuss before we get into mixing cocktails.
Setting up and organizing your home bar
Options for creating your home bar space are endless these days with many options on the market today ranging from low-budget bar carts all the way up to wet-bars for your den. How you lay out your bar space is up to you, your resources and your creative mind. Personally, I re-tooled a vintage buffet and it makes an amazing bar space.
I have my base spirits setup to the left, the Agave at the center and the liqueurs to the right. In the top center drawer I store my bar towels, cutting boards and other small bar tools; the lower drawer houses cocktail picks and a few other odds & ends. The glass door to the left holds fresh citrus, fruit juices & carbonated beverages; while the glass door to the right houses all bitters, shakers and any additional spirits used infrequently.
Fresh lemons, limes, oranges and grapefruits are a must here; you will need these for fresh fruit juices as well as your garnish game along the way. This is an easy item that can set your home bar apart from many others as there is a noticeable difference between bottled citrus juice and fresh citrus juice. However, feel free to purchase the small bottle 6-packs of Dole pineapple juice (unsweetened) and Ocean Spray cranberry juice (100%). It’s possible to juice a cranberry??…
Note: If you do not want to deal with juicing your own grapefruit, I hear you. The most suitable option I can recommend is “Simply Grapefruit” available in the cold section of most mainstream grocery stores; just make sure to use it within 7-10 days of opening. And yes, I know that’s a lot of Paloma’s, get to work…
One of the easiest and cheapest ways of setting your bar apart starting off is making your own simple syrup. You will pay $5 for a 12oz bottle at most retailers but it will cost you a fraction of that to make and only takes a few minutes.
Simple Syrup Recipe: Equal parts sugar & water. Combine in a saucepan over medium heat and stir till sugar is dissolved. Then remove from heat and allow the solution to cool. Once cool, funnel into your favorite re-sealable bottle (perhaps the bottle your old store-bought syrup came in) and store in the refrigerator.
Now that you see how easy that is, there are several different types of simple syrups you can make. All of the below have a place in your bar (assuming there’s room in your fridge of course…)
Easy – Ingredients are simple and readily available
Demerara Syrup – (1:1 or 2:1) aka “Sugar in the Raw” or “Turbinado”
Honey Syrup – (1:1 or 2:1) the easiest syrup to make
Agave Syrup – (1:1 or you can use 1 part Agave Nectar to 1 part simple syrup)
*Use this for Agave based cocktails, you’ll never go back to simple syrup here
Cinnamon Syrup – (1:1 simple with cinnamon sticks steeped)
*Amazing syrup. Used often in summer and tiki cocktails. Fair warning, you might find your Mrs. stealing this for her morning coffee so you might want to make a double batch!
Intermediate – Ingredients may be difficult to locate or recipes may take more time
Grenadine – I cannot recommend this enough! Don’t worry, there will be a dedicated post.
Muscovado Syrup – A very dark, un-refined sugar
Sucanat Syrup – A dark, un-refined sugar, between demerara and muscovado sugars.
Orgeat – An almond milk based syrup used mainly in Tiki cocktails