How to Stock a Home Bar: The Essential Glasses and Equipment

If you want to be your own bartender, good news - you can be! Start by getting the right glasses and a few essential pieces of equipment so you can make a variety of drinks.

Cocktail in a coupe glass - Bar Basics how to stock a home bar

Simply Recipes / Lori Rice

It can be easy to go off the deep end with cocktail glasses and equipment. Luckily, as with spirits and mixers, it’s not about how many different styles you have, but which ones. 

You can cover a great deal of ground with the right equipment and just a handful of glasses!

Four types of glasses you need in a home bar: rocks, double rocks. highball, coupe

Simply Recipes / Lori Rice

The Four Types of Glasses You Need for Cocktails

Glassware is where aesthetic taste meets hard needs like volume – serving with ice? topping with bubbles? – and softer needs, like an ability to deliver aroma or maintain temperature. 

The approximate cost for supplying your home bar with the glassware and equipment to make dozens of cocktails is between $50 and $65.

These four glass types would do, in a pinch, for nearly every cocktail you’re likely to try, at least for a while.

  • Single rocks glass: These 9 or 10-ounce glasses are ideal for anything served neat (un-mixed, un-chilled, un-iced), or “down.” Think simple, stirred cocktails you’re likely to spend some time sipping, like a Negroni and an Old-Fashioned.
  • Double rocks glass / double Old-Fashioned: Several ounces more capacious than a single rocks glass, a double rocks glass is best for spirit-forward cocktails served over ice (whether a single large cube, or several smaller cubes), like Coquito (Eggnog) and a Sazerac.
  • Highball / Collins glasses: Taller, skinnier, 11oz-or-so tumblers ideal for higher-volume mixers typically served with a good deal of ice and (often) a straw. Use for: a Paloma and a Dark and Stormy.
  • Coupe glasses: These 5- and 6-ounce beauties are a favorite for stirred and shaken cocktails served up (i.e. without ice in the glass). They can also replace champagne flutes for bubbly concoctions, as well as the V-shaped glasses of olde for martinis. Use for: a Sidecar and a Manhattan.
Other cocktail making equipment

Simply Recipes / Lori Rice

Other Equipment Needed for Making Cocktails at Home

  • Cobbler-style shaker: This three-piece shaker, with built-in strainer and caps, is as gratefully received by the novice as it is embraced by many bartenders. It provides quick, reliable shaking!
  • Mixing glass: Broad-bottomed, straight-sided glasses with a small spout for pouring, a mixing glass allows you to quickly and impressively stir a chill into your drinks without over-diluting them through shaking.
  • Stirring spoon: While in a pinch you could use anything from a Pilot pen to a penknife to stir a cocktail, this long, elegant, counter-balanced metal spoon with its coiled handles is comfortable and easy to hold, while more efficiently mixing and ultimately chilling your drink.
  • Strainer: Both Hawthorne (with springs) or julep (with the holes) strainers are necessary not only for holding back ice from sliding from your shaker or mixing glass into your drink, but for allowing liquid to pass easily through without being aerated.
  • Jiggers: Bartenders of literally every level of experience rely on jiggers to measure out their ingredients, and there is a great variety of styles to choose from. For beginners I recommend Oxo’s stainless steel jigger, usually calibrated from 1/4 ounce up to 2 ounces.
  • Good ice cube trays represent the easiest way to elevate your home bar’s game to something approximating that of a craft bar. Inexpensive silicone trays can give you everything from perfectly square medium-sized cubes to the larger square cubes you’re accustomed to seeing in cocktail bars. Their large surface area quickly chill your drink while minimizing dilution.

In general, the following online stores are excellent shopping sources for cocktail-making equipment:

The Bar Basics Series