The Complete Home Bar Product Guide
Stocking a home bar might be the only household chore on earth I would describe as "joyous." From glassware for beer, wine, and whiskey, to the bottle opening, cork-pulling, cocktail-shaking tools of the bartending trade, I can't think of a better way to spend a Saturday morning than amping up my new home bar for the new home bar party I'm throwing Saturday night.
And even on a daily basis, having a thoughtful home bar setup - even if you don't have an actual home bar - can make you feel all mature and adulted. Bring comfort after a rough day at work. Help prove to your father-in-law that you're not a talentless freeloader: you can mix up a Damn. Fine. Sidecar.
I'll start this list with some home bar staples, and then move on to more specific tools for beer / liquor / wine lovers, plus some boozy showpieces that will give your setup some irreverence and flash.
Note: Home bar product prices are listed as they were at printing. Prices are subject to change.
Oggi Double Wall Ice Bucket
A bar bare necessity, especially if your bar doesn't have a refrigeration component. This ice bucket from Oggi is double-walled for extra insulation and has a flip lid to provide easy access and prevent the loss of the lid.
Square Scotch Glasses
The tectonic plates of glassware have shifted, producing these square scotch glasses. Filled with scotch, whiskey, bourbon or other fine spirits, the tumblers look like ice cubes that got laser-cut while gravity wasn't paying attention. Does it bug anyone else that their severed top half appears to be sliding uphill instead of down?
12-Piece Beer Glass Set
Stock up with with 4 x 16-ounce English Pub glasses, 4 x 15-ounce Pilsner glasses, and 4 x 19-ounce Pub glasses. This set from Libbey isn't a dazzler, but it's relatively inexpensive, so you won't be heartbroken when one, or four, of the glasses inevitably breaks the first time you throw a party with them. Bonus: They're sturdy enough to run through the dishwasher.
Schott Zwiesel Wine Glasses
I own some Schott Zwiesel wine glasses and can attest that they are awesome based purely on the fact that I do not have to wash them by hand. They are some strong and sturdy vessels, made of a non-lead combination of titanium oxide and zirconium oxide called Tritan crystal. After a year of use, my set is intact, and has zero chips or cracks.
By comparison, I won an 8-piece set of Riedel glasses a few years ago, and bought the Schott Zwiesels after 3 broke in the first month for no reason. It was like they just saw the faucet turn on and sponge coming towards them, and snapped in half in protest.
Wine Foil Cutter
Sure, you could use a knife, or the foil cutting blade on your waiter's corkscrew, but in my experience this leads to anything from mild frustration to a blood-spewing finger. A foil cutter shows a bottle of wine who's boss by strangling its neck and then, in an easy twisting motion, slicing a perfect circle through the condom keeping you from the cork, and the sweet nectar beneath it.
Beneath the arms of this style of foil cutter are a set of sharpish wheels, in tracks to make the twisting part easy. The one shown here is from Edgy, though a ton of different companies make them for the same money or less.
From a qualitative perspective, some of the cheaper ones will have or get warped wheels, and not work. But I also had a nicer foil cutter from Le Creuset whose wheels came apart, out of the tracks after a couple years, so YMMV.
Barvivo Professional Waiter's Corkscrew
In the land of corkscrews I believe the simplest choice remains the best. Having tried fancier winged, rabbit, and electric corkscrews, I've returned to the traditional waiter's key. With a little practice it will take you no more time or effort to uncork a bottle of wine with this inexpensive, space-saving bar tool than any of the other "elevated" models.
And if you're just into putting on a show when you open the wine, scroll down to check out the Champagne Sabre.
Sturdy, stainless, non-slip grip, dishwasher safe, and ensures your bottle opener isn't more interesting than the beers it's opening.
Cocktail Shaker Set
A 14-piece set for both professional and home bartenders to use when they go all-out Polaroid picture and shake, shake, shake, shake it. FineDine includes the following in their cocktail tool armory:15- and 30-oz shaker tins; a Hawthorne cocktail strainer; 0.75- and 1.25-oz double cocktail jiggers; a 7" flat bottle opener; 6 x pour spouts; a pair of 2-oz stainless shot glasses; and a red knob bar spoon.
Corkcicle Wine Chiller
Keep white wines chilled, or bring red wines people who don't give a Corkcicle about wine have stored next to their basement furnace up to "cellar temperature", without the assistance and associated melty wetness of an ice bucket.
The oeno-savvy also point out that bucket-dunking Chardonnays and Sauvignon Blancs and Pinot-whatever-the-white-ones-are tends to make them too cold, masking complex flavors and aromas. Corkcicles feel they provide clean, portable solutions to wine chilling from the inside out, and achieve Baby-Bear levels of just right over and over again.
Pure Copper Old West Shot Glasses
Jacob Bromwell's set of Old West shot glasses are pure copper, handmade by up to 5 American workers, and in very limited supply. So get 'em while they're smokin' hot, and you just might have the perfect beginnings of home bar people want to shoot at. I mean take shots at. Uh...you know what I mean.
Beast Head Shot Glasses
Serve your guests some hair of the dog from the head of the bear. Become strong like bull with shot from bull. Take off the sheep's clothing with 1.7 ounces of 151 straight from the wolf. Look into the eye of the tiger as it sends the juice of the agave down the hatch of the mouth. Be like the rhino and...um...I don't know any idiomatic expressions or proverbs about the rhinoceros. But if he's your favorite beast of the jungle, Molla Space has a shot glass modeled after his melon too.
DropCatch Magnetic Bottle Opener
The DropCatch magnetic bottle opener pretty much looks like an entire party's worth of entertainment to me. You can just buy a bunch of shit beer from Golden, Colorado that no one would ever consider drinking and employ the mounted walnut wonder to let guests open them one right after the other.
DropCatch openers are constructed from solid slabs of walnut wood, and can snag up to 70 caps with its powerful built-in magnet.
Bar10der Cocktail Multi-Tool
Arm yourself for survival in the open bar. With a name as clever as its purpose, the Bar10der is a cocktail-slinging multi-tool for everyone from mixologists to party hosts who don't want to buy and keep track of 10 different implements for EDC (Exceptional Drink Concoction.)
As implied, the Bar10der contains 10 handy tools conveniently compacted and stored, with easy fold-out access when it's time to unwind with a martini or whoop it up with a mojito. The collection includes a muddler, knife, reamer, stirrer, channel knife, strainer, jigger, corkscrew, zester, and bottle opener.
Juice Bruce Lemon Squeezer
And you thought getting the occasional squirt of lime in the eye from your friend Cornelius' Corona was bad. Juice Bruce spends his entire useful life getting doused in the acid of citrus fruits.
The handsome Bruce is made of solid organic wood. He promises to head butt and corkscrew out every last drop of juice from your lemons, limes, oranges, and grapefruits without giving you splinters or digging uncomfortably into your hand. Apparently, the notch at his mouth creates an ergonomic grip that is pleasant even for the kiddos to grasp. And good on Juice Bruce for that, because I think at least by age 5 all children should learn how to turn lemons into lemonade.
Liquor Log Booze Dispenser
How better to toast your guests than with a nice bottle of Jameson or Jack chug-a-lugging out the tap on an urban harvested Ohio hardwood tree? A father and son team at the Ohio WoodWorking Shop handmake each of these Log Liquor Dispensers to order. They use all-natural woods from their hood, so no two are alike. Dispensers stand around 8" tall and measure between 4" and 6" in diameter; they hold any standard size booze bottle. The guys treat the logs with a waterborn clear finish, and route liquor through a food and beverage safe PVC conduit that pours out a brass spout. Dispensers come with both wood and metal interchangeable handles.
Ship in a Bottle Whiskey Decanter & Dispenser
I don't care how they got this ship in the bottle as long as I know how to get the booze it's sailing through out. A wood base serves as a classy pedestal to the mounted glass whiskey decanter and dispenser, set off even further by a hand-etched ship built into the barrel's center.
Monti Taste Collection Set
Some call them the Monti Taste Collection, others call them Narcissistic Beer Glasses. These 4 glasses have been designed and calibrated to deliver IPAs, Pilsners, pints, and 12-ounce bottles of Bud to your lips in the tastiest and showiest way possible. Use The Monti Taste Collection set to enhance the taste not only of your guests' beer, but of the superiority they'll feel drinking it.
"Flip-It" Wine Aerating Carafe
I like "Flip-It" Wine Aerator, but Menu actually calls their invertible / revertible carafe the Winebreather. Though similar to a decanter in shape - and in function if you choose to use it that way - the aerator distinguishes itself with a bottle-neck-hugging top lined with an accordion of water(well, wine)tight rubber. Place the Winebreather over the mouth of an open bottle of wine to create a seal, and then Flip It! The wine pours from the bottle to the carafe, aerating it along the way.
From there you can remove the bottle and serve your wine straight from the decanter. Or! You can Flip It! again and send the wine back into the bottle for aerated service straight from the source. The second option is especially handy if you need to decant several bottles of wine, and want to do it in advance of your guests arriving, or before you sit down to enjoy a Syrah-laced Star Wars marathon all by yourself.
Listen, opening a bottle of bubbles is an eye safety hazard no matter which way you do it. And at least Menu's Champagne Sabre gives your average showboating yahoo a little more panache than the cork wriggle'n'wrestle before the pop'n'fly.
This sabre features a large, curvy body and, most importantly, a blunt edge. Kind of like the baseball bat or ladies' self-pleasure toy of flashy bottle openers. It's made of a single piece of polished stainless steel that, should you wield it correctly, will hack off a Champagne bottle's entire neck in one clean, elegant swipe.
Should you wield it incorrectly, I'd like to propose a toast: To 2018 and drinking fizzy shards of glass, my friends!
Black & Tan Beer Layering Tool
I myself prefer Snakebites to Black and Tans, but really I just like straight whiskey. Less filling and makes it slightly more bearable to be around all the microbrew snobs who insist on "crafting" their layered drinks only from local beers boasting hard water that's been filtered 978 times and hops grown fertilized with unicorn poo. If you're one of them, or if you're just a normal, chill person who enjoys an aesthetically pleasing half-and-half at home every now and then, the Perfect Black and Tan tool will help you create the perfect, pub-style layered beer drinks in your kitchen.
The stainless steel Black and Tan disc funnels and slows the release of your top stout layer through a ring of small holes, allowing it to land gently on and stay afloat of the ale/lager bottom. According to The Perfect people, mastering the skill of layered drink creation requires no skills whatsoever with their Black and Tan tool.
Bottle Cap Bar Stools
When the tops come off, the fun begins! That's what they say about these bottle cap bar stools, but I don't see much about the statement that has anything to do with bottle cap bar stools. Obviously I like it as it relates to actual bottles of beer and women's clothing. And snakes in nut cans I guess.
Bibo Barmaid Cocktail Machine
If you actually drink Appletinis and Mai Tais, the Bibo Barmaid is the gadget for you. If you don't, hey, an automatic cocktail machine. When you're the bartender, you still gotta entertain your guests, your girlfriend, and maybe your tequila-swiggin' mama. Bibo has a margarita mix pouched up as one of its 6 cocktail flavors.
Bibo takes the mess, and the messing up, out of mixed drinks by replacing your untrained / distracted / lazy hand with its own smart tech and tidy countertop design. Bibo cocktails take about 4 steps and 20 seconds to create: 1) Turn the machine on and fill its back reservoir with water; 2) Insert your desired Bibo Cocktail Mixer (the whole pouch) into the slot underneath the machine's lid; 3) Add liquor to your glass and place it under the machine; 4) Hit the Mix button.
Phantom Skull Decanter
I'm not sure the skull in this decanter is so much a phantom as it is a piece of glass blown inside a bottle. But you don't have to tell your kids that when you warn them about what Skully McSkullface will do to their fingers if they meander too close to your Scotch.
Hammerhead Shark Dual Bottle Opener
This is the most kind-hearted shark there is. Before he attacks and eats you, he's going to get you drunk. Beer or wine, my friend?
The Hammered Head from Umbra is both a brew bottle opener and a corkscrew, plus a nifty example of how ingenuity can turn the natural shape of one of Mother Earth's creatures into a dual purpose bar tool. Kudos to designer Alan Wisniewski.
Molecular Mixology Kit
The Molecular Mixology Kit introduces the geekiest, eggheadiest, most anal (well, except for those vodka-soaked suppositories...) means of getting drunk yet: by way of deconstructive food science. Geez, can someone just pass me a can of Natty Ice? Thank y...ooh-oh. What's that ice blue shaving cream cloud-looking thing on top of your drink? Is it foamy or gelatinous? What does it taste like? What kind of...well maybe I should. Just, here, hold my beer for a sec.
Mmmmmm. It tastes like kisses from Queen Frostine.
Dammit. The geeks win every time.
uKeg Pressurized Growler
The Portland natives of GrowlerWerks, tired of not being able to get their favorite microbrews in bottles, and unhappy with the fast flatness that goes with opening a take-home glass growler full of limited-release double IPA, sought to create a growler that works the way beer fanatics want it to. They designed the uKeg to maintain beer's freshness, prevent air infiltration, and keep contents cold for hours at parties, tailgates, and in your friend Cornelius' basement during the LoTR movie marathon.
uKeg makeup includes vacuum insulation, an ergonomic handle, a bar-style tap, and an extra special tiny carbonation system. Carbonation technology is essentially a CO2 cartridge integrated into the growler's regulator cap. Once inserted, users turn the cap to activate their desired level of carbonation, from 0 to 20 psi. According to GrowlerWerks, using the uKeg is as easy as using a seltzer bottle or refillable whipped cream dispenser.
Coravin Wine Siphoning System
Coravin siphoning systems were created for fancy wine owners, fancy wine collectors, and fancy wine-shilling restaurants. It's a tool for pouring out a glass, or even just a taste, from a bottle of wine without pulling the cork. Whatever remains in the bottle post-Coravin remains just as preserved as it was before, so you don't have to commit to drinking all 750mL of vino at once. Wine lovers will appreciate this option to taste, but not down:
- Wines they've been cellaring for years.
- A wine a drunk guest is bugging you to try but that you know s/he won't even be able to taste, much less remember at this point.
- A bottle they want just one glass from with breakfast.
- Multiple bottles they want small pours from for more precise food pairings.
- Wines they've been given as gifts so they know which ones to re-gift.
Jerry Can Bar Cabinet
Some call it the can that won WWII. Even though the Germans created the Wehrmacht-Einheitskanister, American and British forces quickly copied the design and used it for the efficient storage and safe transport of fuel across Europe during the war. They also renamed it a Jerry Can, "Jerry" being the slang term used for German soldiers.
Danish design firm One Copenhagen has repurposed and reconfigured actual Jerry Cans from military surplus stockhouses into the swell bar cabinets you see here. So now Jerry can be the can that won you the envy of all your friends.