If the holidays mean one thing, it’s spending time with loved ones and yadda, yadda, yadda. If they mean a second thing, it’s booze, for those with the age and inclination to drink. Anyone planning on entertaining this season should keep a few staples on hand to ensure imbibing guests can stay jolly and don’t need to fish out a lighter to open their beer.
You need it
OK, you probably don’t need any of this. We’re sure your friends will still love you, even if you only serve warm rum and Cokes and boxed wine at your holiday fête. But if you want to invest in a home bar, this is a good place to start.
Bottle Opener ($6 to $60)
Bottle openers come in all shapes and sizes. From keychain adornments that look like keys to a wall-mounted option that magnetically catches caps before they fall to the ground, there’s a bottle opener for everyone — shark lovers and Star Wars fans alike.
Corkscrew ($7 to $50)
If you’ve ever tried to open a wine bottle without a corkscrew (desperate times!), you’ll appreciate the value of a good corkscrew. Like bottle openers, they come in a variety of prices and personalities, like this Movember-appropriate moustache. If you open lots of wine, you could go all-out for a push-button or rabbit-style model, but those who prefer liquor and beer can get away with a waiter’s corkscrew.
Jigger ($4 to $10)
A jigger is a hand-operated railway car. Wait, that’s not right, Wikipedia! It’s actually a tool that usually measures a shot (1.5 ounces) on one side and a different amount on the other. These needn’t be expensive; you can find them for between $4 and $9. While your guests may prefer to eyeball their gin and tonics, if you’re mixing up a French 75, you’ll want your gin, lemon juice, simple syrup, and champagne in perfect proportion. Actually, you might want to ditch the traditional jigger in favor of measuring beakers, which give you options for teaspoons, tablespoons, and ounces.
Ice cube trays ($5 to $10)
If you have a fridge that dispenses ice cubes or an ice pick to hack apart gas station bags of ice, you can skip these. However, ice trays have gone way beyond cubes. From giant spheres to ice rods, trays are definitely breaking the mold. Who wouldn’t want a frozen Lego man or cat floating in classy cocktail?
Cocktail Shaker ($8 to $20)
Sorry, but if James Bond shows up at your party and asks for a martini, you better be prepared. Cocktail shakers are great, because they mix drinks and chill them at the same time. They come in a variety of styles, including plastic, but a stainless steel one goes for about the same price. While you can opt for an eyebrow-raising design, what you really want is something that won’t leak. If you decide on a Boston shaker, you’ll also need a strainer, which is helpful for drinks stirred with ice, as well.
Glasses ($10 to $29)
You could go crazy trying to get tulip glasses for Scotch ales, snifters for brandy, and cocktail glasses for those martinis, but really, as long as you have some pint glasses, old-fashioned glasses, and wine glasses, revelers will be able to find something to drink out of. However, if it’s New Year’s Eve, you’re going to want some champagne flutes. Oh, and we love this two-in-one cocktail-wine glass.
Drink book ($13 to $20)
Perhaps you can recite the recipe for a Dark and Stormy backwards, but it would be nice to whip up a Last Word for anyone who asks. “But you just Googled it for me,” you say. Ah, but a classic drink book like Mr. Boston or The Savoy has vetted recipes, and something more modern, such as The PDT, has drinks full of daring and delicious combinations. Plus, can’t we have one night away from our phones?
Coasters ($8 to $40)
Mother always said, “If you’re old enough to have a bar, you’re old enough to have coasters.” But done right, the universal symbol of a Finicky Fred or Freida can be yet another classy home bar accessory. No matter what your particular brand of nerdom is — Game of Thrones, chemistry, music, or geology — there’s something to keep the beverage sweat — ahem, glow — off your coffee table.
Juicer ($6 to $42)
Did you know squeezing lemons and limes by hand results in 20 percent juice loss? It’s a true statistic we just made up. Still, so many craft cocktails demand fresh juice that your delicate hands will thank you for not forcing them to squeeze various fruits all night. Whether you want silicone or stainless steel, there are plenty of options if you don’t mind a little elbow grease. Those that insist upon electric can choose from wide range of models, too.