Home Bar Basics: Everything You Need for A Home Gin Bar

Although we are all about going out to drink, there is something extremely wholesome about drinking at home. The atmosphere, the crowd, the overall experience of sharing a drink with people you love. And we don’t mean a glass of wine in a mug, we are talking gin cocktails, nicely mixed and garnished.

Home bars have been around for decades, but what are the essentials needed? What’s the difference between a home bar and a home gin bar? And where to find it all. At the Gin Observer we have you covered with all of the essentials you might need for a fabulous, gin-forward masterpiece.


Bar Cart:
In reality you don’t necessarily need a bar cart, especially if shelves and cabinets are already holding up your tools and bottles. However, it is a great addition to for both esthetics and easy reach when hosting guests and parties. The array varies from wood to metal, modern and old school, and ultimately the choice and style is up to you.


Cocktail Shaker:
Cocktails shakers are an absolute essential both for classic and modern day gin cocktails. It is extremely difficult to make certain drinks without one, and thankfully they are easy to find and are proportionately priced. They can be purchased individually or as part of a bar set and ranging from stainless steal, to glass, to crystal.

Mixing Glass:
Mixing glasses are used for stirred cocktails like the Martini and Negroni. Stirred versus shaken cocktails have to do with the ingredients. When all ingredients are a type of alcohol, the cocktail is stirred with ice to cool down the drink, when spirits are mixed with citrus or sugar, the cocktails are shaken, allowing for better incorporation.


Cocktail Strainer:
There are two type of strainers, ones used to pour the drink onto a glass without all of the ice, and mesh ones that are used to avoid adding even the tiniest ice particles into the cocktail. Often times they are used together, especially in foamy cocktails like the Clover Club and the White Lady.


A jigger is the holy grail of cocktail measurements. Available in a variety of sizes and length. All jiggers are shaped like an hour glass, providing two measurement sizes, one on each size and are available both in ounces and milliliters. They are the simplest tools to allow for accurate measurement when cocktail making to allow for consistent flavors and proper alcohol levels.


Bar spoon:
A bar spoon might sound useless as other spoons are present in the world, but it has very precise uses that will not be achieved without one. Used to stir stirred cocktails evenly when used, measure specific ingredients, and allow for bubbly drinks to be poured into a glass without extreme bubbles being formed that can cause the cocktail making time to increase.


Muddlers are used for cocktails that require mint, simply syrup, and fruits. They smash the ingredients to bring out their flavor and can be found in a variety of materials such as stainless steal, silicone, and wood. There are great for summer cocktails and classic cocktails that use fresh seasonal and herbal ingredients.


Citrus Juicer:
Cocktails are instantly elevated when fresh squeezed citrus is used. But let’s be real, its 2022 and it doesn’t fully matter who squeezed your citrus as long as your citrus is squeezed. In case you opt-in to squeezing it yourself, there is a variety to choose from, from hand squeezed to electric.


Ice Molds:
A cocktail wouldn’t be a cocktail without ice, so why not make it fun with an array of sizes and shapes. At this point ice molds have reached all sizes and are very accessibly for purchase. We must note that silicon molds have been the easiest to use, take out, and clean. Regardless, the variety allows you to pick your favorite shape and material and make your cocktail as unique as you.


Most classic cocktails come with a glass they are known to be used for, but, there is always room to be unique, especially with new cocktails being invented regularly. To make it easier to choose check out our glass guide, here.

Spirits and Liqueurs:


We are the Gin Observer so naturally we are inclined to offer gin first. It does make the best cocktails and there are so many brands to choose from, it is hard to go wrong. There are plenty of other spirits that make the cut and can at times be used together so we recommend getting those too. Let’s stick to the basics here with vodka, rum, tequila, and whisky to complement the ever delicious, gin.

Cordial are technically sweetened distilled spirit flavored with fruits, herbs, spices, and nuts. Think Elderflower, chocolate, and coffee liqueurs. Alcohol levels are pretty low and they are used for flavor rather than alcohol when mixing drinks.


Flavored Liqueurs:
Unlike cordials, these are used as added alcohol and flavor combined. Think Aperol, Campari, Cointreau. These add flavors and make cocktails stronger, and are often used for specific cocktails with specific flavors, often mentioned in the name of the drink.


There are a few different bitters that can be purchased, all of which provide a different flavor. These include fruit bitters, herbal bitters, aromatic bitters, and more. Cocktails normally call for specific bitters that will be mentioned in the recipe. Only a few drops are used at a time, so investment lasts a while.


Soda Toppers:

Did you know that there is a difference between tonic water, seltzer, sparkling water and club soda. Apparently there is. Not to mention that regular sodas like ginger ale and ginger beer are used for cocktail mixing. So what’s the difference you might ask,


Tonic Water:
In comparison to other bubbly waters, Tonic water contains quinine, a compound found in the bark of a cinchona tree, adding a bit of a bitter taste to the drink. It is famously known to be used for the classic gin and tonic, as well as an added topper for mixed drinks. Fun fact, quinine used to be used as medicine against malaria, which was added to gin to mask the taste of bathtub gins made at the time, inviting the classic cocktail.

Seltzer is carbonated water, similar to club soda. Unlike club soda it does not contain any minerals, providing a plainer taste when used in cocktails.

Sparkling water:
Sparkling water is naturally carbonated from springs or wells. It contained a variety of minerals that differ based on the bottling source, which can also alter the taste, resulting in different brands having different sparkling water flavors.

Club Soda:
Carbonation in club soda occurs by the addition of carbon dioxide that is then infused with minerals. The minerals added are chosen by the manufacturer and enhance the flavor of the club soda.