Hot off the presses, The Complete Cocktail Manual wraps up the collective wisdom of members from across the country to help the home bartender up their game. We want to thank all the members who submitted their ideas and a big congrats to SF Chapter member and drinks writer Lou Bustamante for authoring the book. The Complete Cocktail Manual is now available for purchase on Amazon.
An oft-asked question of our bartender members is: what are the essential tools for my home bar?
Join us on the usbg.org discussion forum and let us know what you recommend to friends and family!
Lou and his team recommend these seven:
Corkscrew and bottle opener The waiter's corkscrew, with a lever and a bottle opener, is all you'll need to open any kind of bottle.
Strainer There are two basic types of strainers: a Hawthorne (which has a loose spring forming a half circle on the lip), and a julep, (which looks like a squat, slotted spoon), but you probably only need the Hawthorne -- the julep is for stirred drinks, but often a Hawthorne fits and works better.
Tongs When handling ice, stainless-steel tongs are a must to keep the temperature down. They can also come in handy when grabbing garnishes.
Muddler or Hand Juicer A good muddler is essential for incorporating bold flavors from fresh herbs and fruits into a cocktail. Fresh juice is critical in a good cocktail, and the best juicing tool when making drinks on a small scale is a citrus press. They're fast, extract both fragrant citrus oils (from the peels and rinds) and juices, and they clean up easily.
Jigger Free-pouring (mixing without using measuring tools) is a skill that takes time to develop; until then, please measure -- a fraction of an ounce can turn a great drink into a bad one. Double-ended jiggers are great for speed but not for flexibility -- if you need a quarter ounce of something, you'll have to eyeball it. The small measuring-cup-style ones are a better choice for beginners.
Bar Spoon Use a bar spoon for making stirred drinks and fishing cherries out of their jars. You can also use a long spoon, like those for iced tea; but if you don't have one, it's easy to find a nice, inexpensive bar spoon.
Cocktail Shaker Besides liquor and ice, a shaker is the only thing that's absolutley necessary to make cocktails. The variations in style are endless, but stick to two-part shakers, such as French or Boston styles. Three-part shakers, where the strainer is built into the top, can freeze up at the seams.
Thanks again to all the members who contributed to making this excellent compendium of drinks knowledge!
Ian Adams, San Francisco Chapter
Jared Anderson, San Francisco Chapter
Julio Bermejo, San Francisco Chapter
Kate Bolton, Oregon Chapter
Kevin Diedrich, San Francisco Chapter
Dario Doimo, Las Vegas Chapter
John Codd, San Francisco Chapter
Jennifer Colliau, San Francisco Chapter
Matt Cowan, Denver Chapter
Ian Cox, Atlanta Chapter
Corey Creason, New York Chapter
Christopher Day, Los Angeles Chapter
Andrew Dolinsky, St. Louis Chapter
H Joseph Ehrmann, San Francisco Chapter
Jason Foust, Indianapolis Chapter
Kaleena Goldsworthy, Chattanooga Chapter
Nat Harry, San Francisco Chapter
Paul Johnsen, Orlando Chapter
Alexandria Jump, Chattanooga Chapter
Ted Kilgore, St. Louis Chapter
Matthew Korzelius, Asheville Chapter
Chris Lane, San Francisco Chapter
Jeff Lyon, San Francisco Chapter
Patrick Lussier, Austin Chapter
Stephan Mendez, San Antonio Chapter
Julian Miller, Tampa Chapter
David Nepove, San Francisco Chapter
T. Cole Newton, New Orleans Chapter
Alejandro Olivares, Utah Chapter
Daniel Parks, San Francisco Chapter
Andreas Pejovic, Denver Chapter
Jonathan Pogash, Northeast Regional Vice President
William Prestwood, San Francisco Chapter
Ralf Ramirez, Los Angeles Chapter
Enrique Sanchez, San Francisco Chapter
Jonathan Shock, New Orleans Chapter
Ryan Shipman, Philadelphia Chapter
Matt Sorrell, St. Louis Chapter
Monica Snyder, San Antonio Chapter
Marcos Tello, Los Angeles Chapter
Martin Tummino, Miami Chapter
Alexandra F. Williams, Member at Large
Rich Williams, Los Angeles Chapter
Frederic Yarm, Boston Chapter