Buyer's Guide, Resources + FAQs

Home Bar for the Holidays

When it comes to holiday entertaining, festive holiday cocktails are frequently part of the menu. Wine, beer, liqueurs and cocktails offer a wide range of opportunities to delight your guests and show off your modern barware and glasses. Each home bar requires some basic items to serve your holiday cocktails in proper modern style. It begins with prep tools and ends with just the right glass.

Bier Haus

Let’s begin with beer. You might think all you need is a bottle opener. While you can certainly drink your beer from a bottle, there are reasons to serve it in a stylish glass. There are a variety of shapes for beer glasses, and each one is designed to enhance the flavor of your beer by making the aromatic compounds more pronounced. Most people are familiar with the popular pint glass, but when it comes to bringing out the best in your beer, you should used the right glass for your beer type.

From l. to r. The Ascutney Pilsner Glass is great for pilsner beers, goblet style glasses are good for Belgian IPAs and strong dark ales, and the Lempi Stemmed Beer Glass is appropriate for all styles of beer.

Vino-Centric

Serving wine and champagne is next on the list. For wine, you’ll want a corkscrew that has a small knife to cut the seal and an arm that provides leverage for pulling out the cork. This style corkscrew folds up neatly making it easy to store. Champagne bottle openers include an edge to cut the foil and are designed to grab the cork by the sides. A champagne bucket or wine cooler to keep your bottles chilled to the right temperature is a luxury that, while not totally necessary, is certainly nice to have and looks great.

Next, you’ll want the right glasses. Just like with beer, the shape of your wine glass changes how it tastes. There is a large variety of wine glasses to choose from. Red wine glasses tend to be taller, with a larger bowl that allows for all the aromas and flavors to emerge. White wine glasses often have a smaller bowl. Champagne is usually served in tall flutes or coupe glasses that control the bubbles.

Mixologist Extraordinaire

When it comes to whipping up a refreshing cocktail, the most basic tools your home bar requires are a cocktail shaker, ice bucket, ice tongs, bar spoon, muddler, strainer and jigger.

A cocktail shaker is a must for properly mixing up and chilling cocktails that use juice or citrus in the recipe. The shaking aerates the cocktail and changes the texture, while stirring is best for drinks that focus on the spirit like a martini or a Manhattan. (Whether you’re shaking or stirring your drinks, you want to serve them chilled to the optimum temperature.) A jigger will help you measure out just the right amount of alcohol for your recipe.

Depending on how fancy your cocktails are, you might need a muddler. Muddlers are great for crushing ice, aromatic bitters, sugar cubes, mint and other herbs, and for extracting the juice from lemon or lime wedges. The strainer comes into to play to keep the ice, muddled fruits and herbs in the shaker if you don’t want them in the glass. Finally, an ice bucket and tongs will keep ice always handy and at the ready.

There are many modern bar that offer both great style and everything you’ll need to make a proper cocktail. I personally love the Cylinda-Line bar set. The iconic design of this set is minimal and truly modern. Or for something a little more splashy, I just love the Plum Collection from Tom Dixon.

Last but not least, you’re going to need to stock your home bar with cocktail glasses. High ball and low ball glasses are the most common styles you’ll see. High balls are best for cold, refreshing drinks over lots of ice and drunk through a straw. Low ball glasses, also known as rocks glasses, are best for simple drinks with only a few ingredients served over ice. Martini glasses are generally used for martinis (obviously), as well as drinks like Lemon Drops and Cosmopolitans. There are also a variety of special glasses for individual drinks. For example, the Moscow Mule has returned to popularity again, and is generally considered best when served in a copper mug.

Now that you have the basics down, you’re ready to set up a stylish modern home bar just in time for your next holiday soiree.

Nicole Tatem

Nicole Tatem

Nicole is the Sr. Site Merchandiser for Accessories, Kids, and Textiles at YLiving. She is obsessed with great design in all forms with a special love for jewelry, wine bottle labels, and tableware. When she’s not exploring the many museums and art galleries of the Bay Area, Nicole spends time looking for and visiting obscure and unusual destinations (locally and abroad) while practicing her photography skills.

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