How to Set up your Home Bar: Bar Tools, Glassware, and Booze Essentials

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Last week I covered the first step to setting up your home bar: finding the perfect bar cart.  Now that you have a foundation, we can get into the bar tool accessories and essentials you need to be the best home bartender around!

Step 2: Home Bar Tool Essentials:
home bar tool essentials
1. cocktail shaker: for obvious reasons.
2. jigger: for precise measuring.
3. mixing glass: for when you want it stirred, not shaken.
4. muddler: sometimes you have to muddle.
5. hawthorne strainer: once you mix a cocktail you have to pour it.
6. opener: this one is cute and fun.
7. stirring spoon: you know, to stir.
8. cocktail picks: for your olive, cherry, or what have you.
9. large ice cube tray: so you can have it on a rock (and so your drink gets less watery).
10. mesh strainer: to keep the muddled stuff from getting in your drink.
11. y peeler: garnish anything you like. Bonus points for lighting your citrus zest on fire before rimming your glass to release the essential oils.
12. juicer: this is the mother of all juicers and will get every last ounce.

Bonus points for decanters, ice buckets, sphere ice molds, ice picks, pourers, and swizzle sticks.

Step 3: Home Bar Essential Glasses
Home bar essential glassware
1. old fashioned glass
2. coup
3. champagne flute
4. beer glass
5. wine glass (red and white)
6. martini
7. collins glass
8. shot glass

These glasses will get you by for entertaining guests in a heart beat.  If entertaining isn't really your forte, think about the drinks that you enjoy most.  Are you a beer connoisseur?  Then focus on your beer glasses.  Some of these are multi-purpose as well, you can serve a negroni or champagne in a coupe.  Don't be afraid to have a little fun with your glasses as well - these Sisters of Los Angeles rocks glasses are some of my favorites.  Etsy is also a great resource for vintage bar and glassware.
via Refinery29
Step 4: Spirits (the booze):
Vodka: I like Ketel One best.  Tito's is also a solid choice.  Try making a moscow mule or martini.
Gin: Gin is my favorite spirit, and I have a few favorites.  Blade, Amethyst, and Hendrick's are all solid choices.  Try a gin and tonic, tom collins, or east side.
Rum: We always have a bottle of Atlantico on hand.  Try a dark and stormy, it's one of my favorites!
Tequila: I like Espolon, and Casamingos is a great higher end tequila.  Try a margarita or paloma.
Whiskey: Buffalo Trace is a great every day bourbon whiskey.  I've even done infusions with it before - try figs or cinnamon, cloves, and orange zest; they make great gifts!  Try making a manhattan or sazerac.
via Design Sponge
Step 5: Liqueurs, Bitters, and Garnishes:
Triple Sec: Orange liqueur is an essential in many cocktails.  Cointreau is a great one.
St. Germain: This elderflower liqueur is great in gin and vodka cocktails, and even with champagne.
Vermouth: I don't have a favorite here, but you'll need dry for martinis and sweet for other cocktails.
Orgeat: St. Vincent's is a great quality almond syrup.  Stay away from the cheap stuff on this.  One of my favorite cocktails uses orgeat, it's called a trinidad sour.
Pimm's: For Pimm's Cups, of course!
Bitters: Start with the granddaddy of all bitters, Angostura.  If you like bitters, I'd recommend Orange, Peychaud, and Underberg.
Garnishes: Lemon, lime, orange, and Luxardo cherries should cover all your bases.
via Lonny
Step 6: Mixers:
Tonic: I swear by Jack Rudy small batch tonic.  It's a bit pricey, however, its a syrup, and therefore not carbonated so it lasts much longer.  To mix a drink you use the tonic and add your own seltzer water for the bubbles.  It's completely changed my gin and tonic game.
Seltzer: A must, we just buy it from Trader Joe's.
Ginger Beer: In my opinion, Bundaberg is the only way to go.

Now you should have everything you need to have a fully stocked bar at home!  Don't forget about the first essential piece in building your home bar: the bar cart.  For recipes, bar tools, bar inspiration, and more, visit my bar pinterest board.

Look for Less: Make it or Fake it #15

Monday, December 1, 2014

Make it with this Caravan Pacific Alberta Table Lamp for $500
or fake it with this Target Threshold Ceramic Table Lamp $44.99
Be sure to check out other make it or fake it posts here for more affordable home decor options.

How to Set Up Your Home Bar: Round Up: The Best Bar Carts

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

In order to build a great home bar, you'll need a place to house all your bar paraphernalia.  A really great bar cart is the perfect first piece in building a home bar.  They're versatile pieces that are great for both storage and entertaining, and can be used for a variety of purposes: as a night stand, end table, kitchen cart, etc.  If you're into making cocktails or mixology, showcase your bar tools and booze with pride!
image via Lonny Mag
Some features to look for in a bar cart are multiple shelving to maximize storage space and wheels for easy maneuvering.  Here are a few of my favorite bar carts in a variety of styles and prices:

Do you have a bar cart at home?  Stay tuned for a post about how to build your very own bar.  For recipes, bar tools, bar inspiration and more, be sure to visit my pinterest board here.  Stay tuned for step two of building your own home bar, with all the essentials you need to make the best cocktails at home.

Style Steal #6: Tropical Eclectic Dining Room

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Fashion stylist Jenny Kaplan knows how to make a statement.  I absolutely love her quirky, tropical dining room featured on Rue Daily.  The pair of bamboo chairs with funky pillows spices up an otherwise white dining area.  She mixes styles seamlessly, a mid century credenza, industrial cage lamps, a modern globe mirror pendant lamp, beachy chairs...and yet it all comes together in such cohesive way, like everything is intentional.  It's my belief that when decorating you can't worry too much about whether or not something 'goes', because if you really love it, it will work.  In the end, your space and decor is a reflection of yourself!  So you can't go wrong decorating with pieces you absolutely love.  See how to steal Jenny's style below, and check out the full home tour over on Apartment Therapy.
image via Rue Daily
Get the look: blue abstract art // navy chevron pillows // white bamboo dining chairs // silver globe pendant light // industrial cage table lamp // turtle shells // white dining table // credenza

Be sure to check out other style steal posts here to get the look of some killer rooms.  What do you think of Jenny's style?

Holiday Gift Guide for Women

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

So last week I posted the holiday gift guide for men, and this week I'm covering your bases for all the women in your life.  If you're stumped on what to get, the key really is just to listen.  Chances are she'll mention at least one thing she wants daily, and probably even has a wish list somewhere outlining exactly everything she wants.  But don't worry, I did all the work for you already.  Here are 30 gift ideas for your best friend, girlfriend, co-worker, etc. that won't disappoint.  For even more gift ideas for women check out my pinterest board here, or for more gift ideas for men check this pinterest board.
1. j.crew camp socks: the perfect in between sock for chillier days - not quite wool but not too thin either.
2. madewell bendbright studs: these simple gold studs will become a quick staple.
3. anthropologie monogram mug: monogram mugs are perfect for the office, no confusion!
4. triple c amplifier egg: perfect for when you need to bump up the volume.
5. madewell arrow hair pins: upping the bobby pin game in a serious way.
6. hot stuff thermal mug: maybe the best travel mug ever.  I mean, really, ever.
7. sugar paper wall calendar: a new year means a new calendar.
8. h&m makeup bag: girls can never have enough makeup bags.
9. anthropologie pretzel bottle opener: this one is pretty enough to keep out on display.
10. rifle paper co floral coasters: beautiful floral patterns make these coasters a must-have.
1. triple c power card: so you never run out of juice.
2. cat bird big mouth dish: an excessive amount of trinkets requires the best trinket dishes.
3. herkimer diamond earrings: an easy everyday wear, these earrings are tough with a rough cut.
4. champagne pouch: again, girls always need more things to put their things in.
5. j.crew classic leather belt: you can't go wrong with a great leather belt.
6. s'well bottle: keeps your drinks hot for 12 hours, and cold for 24.  And the best part?  The 32 oz fits an entire bottle of wine!
7. madewell mountain shadow scarf: this over-sized scarf can double as a wrap and will keep you toasty.
8. toc leather bowl: a leather and gold thing to put your things in.
9. aesop hand soap: this luxe soap smells like a dream.
10. kate spade saturday initial candle: nothing says personal like monograms.
1. marc by marc jacobs pouch: perfect to hold cards, etc. when you don't want to bring your whole wallet.
2. giles & brother railroad spike cuff: edgy and pretty spiked cuff in gorgeous rose gold.
3. madewell cashmere beanie: because you can't go wrong with cashmere.  Or grey.
4. lululemon wunder under pant: every girl loves lululemon. Trust me.  These fold over pants are beyond comfortable and are great for the gym or relaxing at home.
5. ll bean fisherman sweater: a classic basic every girl (and guy) should have.
6. jo malone cologne: this luxe cologne lasts and has a scent for everyone.
7. baggu weekend bag: perfect to stash your stuff for a quick getaway.
8. ll bean wicked good moccasins: keep your feet toasty warm in these sheepskin moccasins.
9. j.crew flannel pjs: a pj set is beyond cute and comfortable.
10. gap leather satchel: this all season leather bag is great for any occasion.

Holiday Gift Guide for Men

Thursday, November 13, 2014

If there's one thing I've learned about men, it's that they never need anything.  Not in the same way that women do.  Women need a Marc Jacobs bag the same way they need shampoo.  Men are the complete opposite, they need useful things like toothpaste and new sneakers because theirs have holes in them or the sole is gone.  And the tricky thing about men is that when they need something, they go out and get it.  I mean, like, immediately.  This makes them difficult people to buy gifts for.  For the most part, I've found that men like to receive gifts that are useful and functional.  Things that have a purpose.  Recently for a friends birthday, we bought him tons of socks.  I know it sounds weird, but you know what?  He LOVED them.  They were fun, and something he can use every day.  The trick is to get them things they need, but don't know they need them.  I know, it sounds crazy, but look, I did it for you.  For even more gift ideas check out my pinterest board here, and if you're looking for gift ideas for the ladies, check out this gift guide here.

Here are a bunch of man gifts the man in your life needs but didn't even know he needed, at several different price points.
He didn't know he needed:
1. workboard darts: because who doesn't need to blow off a little steam at the office?
2. triplec oval amplifier: great for on the go or traveling, this mini sound amplifier works in a pinch.
3. crux stache wax: for the mustached man.
4. gentleman's deck playing cards: this deck of cards has tips on how to be the perfect gentleman.
5. luggage scale: no more embarrassing math skills needed to find the difference of your weight and the weight of your luggage. 
6. the best craft cocktails: because all men love booze.  
7. crate & barrel forged corkscrew: because men should open wine with something manly.
8. minimergency kit for him: this inconspicuous tin will ensure he's prepared for anything. 
9. uppercut deluxe shave cream: luxe with great packaging, he'll always need shave cream.
10. moscow mule mug: so that you can enjoy moscow mules at home, the right way.
He didn't know he needed:
1. izola nested shot glasses: so that he can toast like a Spaniard.
2. bkr bottle: a cool glass water bottle protected with a silicone cover to prevent breaking.
3. brooklyn eagles ball cap: a fun throwback baseball cap for those bad hair days.
4. swiss army huntsman: always handy with a cool wood handle.
5. mixology glasses: so that he's never confused about what he's drinking.
6. triplec green budz: retractable ear buds with manly wood accents keep these from tangling.
7. timex weekender watch: a good classic watch face is all he needs; straps interchangeable.
8. il bussetto leather card holder: a minimalist thinner wallet in gorgeous leather.
9. stanley flask: so that he can always drink, especially on the go. 
10. domino box set: they're not just for old people anymore!
He didn't know he needed:
1. komono crafted sunglasses: lighter tortoiseshell in McQueen-esque frames are way stylish.
2. jack spade bones money clip: you know, so he can always use his bones.
3. triplec bluboom portable speaker: wood is just awesome and manly, and this speaker is no exception.
4. nespresso inissia: who doesn't want espresso without the mess?
5. filson travel kit: this brand makes the most durable products around.
6. valet tray: so his keys/phone/wallet are always accessible.  There's even a notch for a charger.
7. the north face mason duffel bag: so he can jet set or road trip whenever.
8. fitbit: because wearables are 'in'.
9. henley brands folding barware: when in doubt, just give him booze related items.
10. vans leather sneakers: so he can up his cool factor several levels.

Now go forth and shop with confidence for the men in your life!
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