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Holiday Shopping Ideas for the Bar

December 1, 2009

By Monsieur Anton

Chef Gusteau wrote a wonderful piece about holiday gift ideas for the kitchen.  Great stuff and nobody knows their way around the kitchen better than Gusteau.  There is one place I have him beat though, and that is drinking!  Mind you, Gusteau is no slouch when it comes to tipping a few, but I’ve had some experience making drinks in a professional bar, and sometimes the drinks manage to get to a customers!

So you say you want to stock a top-notch home bar to dazzle your friends and family?  You want to make like Tom Cruise and build your own Cocktails and Dreams? I can’t make you as rich and good-looking as Mr. Cruise (if I could, I wouldn’t be writing this blog), but I can help you outfit you, or your lucky gift recipient with a laid out bar at a reasonable price.  Many of the same places that Gusteau shopped at for his kitchen goodies, like Crate and Barrel and Williams-Sonoma carry many bar essentials.  But for real bargains check out Dean Supply for many bar accessories.  It is after all where the professionals go.

Glassware: You can’t make a drink unless you have something to pour it in.  Look for a good sturdy glass that feels comfortable in your hand.  Martinis are a big thing now, be they tradition gin or vodka martinis, or some wild concoction poured into a martini glass.  For these, you need a wide rimmed cocktail glass with a long stem.  Or do you?  The Dizzy Glass at Crate and Barrel (http://www.crateandbarrel.com/family.aspx?c=150&f=22472) does a fine job for cocktails and martinis at about $3.00 a glass.

For wine I suggest you get the glass with the biggest bowl you can afford.  This will best show off the wine and can be had for around $5 a glass.

For beer I don’t recommend mugs.  They are big and cumbersome, hard to store and look ridiculous in a lady’s hands, and not much better in a man’s.  Leave the mugs for Oktoberfest and check out Pilsner glasses that are much sleeker and better for the beer, or a pint glass that easily multitask for water or sodas, and they are much cheaper.

Corkscrew: There a many types out there; butterfly, rabbits and table top varieties among them.  Forget them all and just get a “waiter’s helper” corkscrew for about $5.00 wherever wine is sold.

Wine Cooler: Go ahead and spend big bucks on ornate or marble wine coolers.  Just know that they don’t do any better job of keeping your Chardonnay any colder (and you’re probably drinking it too cold anyway).  Plastic or metal wine coolers work just fine at a fraction of the cost.  If you want to impress your friends with a fancier one, go ahead.  I’m not one to judge.

Bar Accessories: There are all types of bar gear available in many price ranges.  The things you need for your bar are simple and few.  Start with a Boston Shaker that is a stainless steels shaker, usually around 16-20 ounces that a pint glass fits snugly into, allowing you to do your Tom Cruise imitation shaking your cocktail.  You’ll also need a bar strainer, bar spoon, muddler, jigger measure, ice tongs, bottle opener and bottle pourers so you can master the perfect pour.  Definitely go stainless steel for all these essentials.  It looks good, and is easy to care for.  Now for the really good news. You can buy all these items cheap at Dean’s Supply (http://www.shopatdean.com) mostly for a buck or two.  If you browse around their store you may find good deals on glassware, but may have to buy them by the case.  Personally, I don’t have enough friends to invite over to buy a case of glasses, but you may be more popular than I.

Bar Guide: Remember how Gusteau spoke about “food porn?”  Those cookbooks that chefs drool over.  There are bar books that serve the same purpose.  Gorgeous pictures of enticing exotic beverages.  If this is your thing, so be it.  I for one am a simple man with simple needs.  To me, no bar home or professional should be without Mr. Boston: The Official Bartender’s Guide available at www.amazon.com for about $10.00.  It contains all the classics cocktails, as wells as explanations of all wines and spirits.  It is the bible for any real bartender.

I’ve left something out.  Stock your bar with all the basics.  I’ll leave the brands to your personal preference, but every bar should have vodka, gin, bourbon, scotch, rum, Canadian whiskey, blended whiskey, triple sec, dry and sweet vermouth as well as a simple collection of cordials and after dinner drinks.  If you’re giving gifts, a nice bottle of your host’s favorite spirit never goes unappreciated.

So get behind the bar and have fun!  Gusteau likes to quote the movie Ratatouille and say that everyone can cook.  I’m still waiting for a cartoon movie about bartending, but I’ll just say everyone can pour a drink.  If you make mistakes, don’t worry.  You get to dispose of your mistakes anyway you like.  That or I’ll come over and help you dispose of them.

Chef Gusteau says: “No one knows drinking like Anton…and that says a lot!  Great ideas here and just think of the fun parties you can have.  I have heard of a party in which guests take turns being challenged to make a drink from the Bartender’s Guide and try it out on their friends.  Adult drinking games, got to love them.  Also, for you foodies out there don’t forget that martini glasses are also fantastic pieces to serve food cocktails as well; the presentation factor is wonderful.”

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. December 2, 2009 5:11 am

    Hi,

    I just featured your list on our Big Guide to Foodie Gift Guides. Come check it out! If you like it, please share it with your social network (Foodbuzz, Facebook, Twitter, etc).

    Aloha, Nate
    House of Annie food blog

  2. February 7, 2012 9:03 pm

    I got so bored at the moment afternoon, but as soon as I watched this YouTube comical clip at this website I turn into fresh and cheerful as well.

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  1. The Big Guide to Foodie Gift Guides | House of Annie

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