Setting up a home bar is not only an aesthetic pursuit. Sure, having neatly lined-up bottles and matching bar tools can complete a room’s interior design (or at least signal its intentions), but it can also be the difference between entertaining being a breeze or a chore. Making Martinis for a crowd? The right mixing glass and batch-ready pitcher take the process from a lengthy, repetitive task to just a few steps. Bringing the party from the dining room to the patio? Modular bar carts and drink trays are a host’s best friend. For every drink-making occasion, we sought out the tools that look as sophisticated as they are essential.
Here, our team and a few drink-loving editors at The Strategist, New York Magazine’s home for product reviews and shopping guides, recommend our favorite accessories for the home bar.
Making a Martini in style comes down to the right mixing tools. Apart from being extremely sleek, the Arne Jacobsen Martini mixer can fit multiple drinks, making it a perfect mixing glass for getting a few rounds out at the same time. It also comes with a removable strainer, so once your Martinis come to temperature, you can pour them directly from the mixer without needing an additional Hawthorne strainer. For a more affordable (and traditional) option, this seamless mixing glass is the most elegant—also, “it’s not as fragile as it looks,” notes Punch senior editor Chloe Frechette. Pair with a 30-centimeter teardrop barspoon—this length is less cumbersome than some of the longer options, and the narrower teardrop shape glides more easily through a mixed drink than a circular spoon.
For shaken drinks, opt for a three-piece shaker set so all elements (shaker, strainer and cap) are accounted for. The Birdy cocktail shaker is the absolute best choice; it comes with a signature micropolished interior that offers unparalleled smoothness for the most efficient shake. For a less fancy, but still hard-working, alternative, the Usagi cocktail shaker is well-priced, and its lid is precisely engineered to not get stuck.
To measure your ingredients, while you can’t go wrong with classic Japanese-style jiggers, this stepped version’s handle makes it easier to pour without spilling and allows for clear distinction between measurements. Standardized dashes are important, too, which these threaded bitters bottles can provide. Their design also prevents leaking, compared to dashers with a cork or other type of stopper.
Finally, since the right ice can make or break a drink, a well-functioning ice cube tray should not be an afterthought. W&P Peak ice cube trays are “better than you think an ice tray could be,” says Emma Wartzman, kitchen and dining writer at The Strategist. Easy to store, the trays come with lids to make them stackable. To get the ice from tray to drink, these utilitarian ice tongs are more functional than the typical “claw” design, which can chip cubes, while these vintage silver-plated tongs get all the style points; no two are exactly alike.
Napkins and Coasters
While bar tools are a space to optimize efficiency, you can’t really go wrong with whatever napkins and coasters you accessorize with. Punch social media editor Irina Groushevaia recommends Le Petit Print Boutique on Etsy, for a handmade option that can be personalized with your initials. Atelier Saucier Napkins come in a variety of colors and prints, “so you can match your cocktail napkins to your mood,” says Punch associate editor Mary Anne Porto. And, according to Wartzman’s recent story on the best housewarming gifts, Pon cocktail napkins, recommended by the owners of New York boutique Coming Soon, “make for a great Instagram moment.”
Wartzman, Frechette and Porto all also enthusiastically endorse Graf Lantz coasters. “I’ve gifted them more times than I can count, and I’ve had mine for many years, and they still look great,” says Wartzman. For a sturdier option, Subtle Art Studios tile coasters are water-resistant and “so gorgeous,” according to Groushevaia, while Punch editor-in-chief Talia Baiocchi recommends Celina Mancurti leather coasters, which are customizable and will develop a patina over time.
Some cocktails have their own requisite accessories. For dirty Martinis, spike olives onto these simple cocktail picks or these disposable bamboo versions. Glass straws, such as these by Diego Faivre, add a little pizzazz to cobblers and swizzles, and are “attractive enough to forgo a garnish,” according to Frechette. Alternatively, these curvy glass straws are less expensive but equally playful, bringing color to any tall drink.
Presentation and Serving
A sleek pitcher (this one has a warm amber color and is dishwasher safe) makes batching cocktails easy, while this drink tray simplifies getting drinks from kitchen to table, or from indoors to outdoors. Likewise, a modular bar cart offers a place to store it all, with built-in transportation capability. Burrow’s Dram Cart has lots of space to display bottles of any size, while the Kartell system’s roving drawers, recommended in The Strategist’s guide to bar carts, are a chic way to keep the bottles tucked away. Offering the best of both worlds, this trolley can hold smaller, miscellaneous tools in the shelf portion while keeping some items on view.
Finally, a shallow dish offers a tidy place for on-the-side garnishes, while these small bowls are great as “vessels for olive pits, which are my go-to cocktail hour snack—along with Goldfish,” says Wartzman.