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4 Steps to Creating the Best Home Bar

By: GQ Editors, Photographs by Michael Graydon and Nikole Herriott

4 Steps to Creating the Best Home Bar

1) Carve Out a Space for Your Permanent Collection

Building a home bar isn’t a onetime affair—you’ve got to commit to restocking when something gets low. Which means you need a permanent place to keep your supply. A section of your bookshelf will do just fine, but if you’re serious about your nightcaps, or if your friends tend to use your house as their own private corner bar, it’s not a bad idea to invest in a bar cart. You can buy one ready-made (this one, above, is from West Elm), or you can repurpose anything with a surface and legs, like an old desk. Either way, this isn’t the time to indulge your Downton Abbey fetish: A bar cart doesn’t need wheels, unless you’re planning to roll it out from a butler’s pantry.

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2) Pick up Your Glassware in the Singles Section

It’s time to stand up to the Williams-Sonoma Industrial Complex. In the world of cocktails, all that matters is volume; mixed liquor doesn’t need to swirl or breathe. So you should have some four-ounce glasses, for sipping; some four-to-eight-ounce short glasses, for lowball cocktails; and some tall eight-ounce glasses, for ice-loaded highballs. Best practice: If you see a glass you like, buy one. Just one. Then repeat until your cupboard’s full.

3) Lighten Your Tool Belt

There are about six tools you need to make drinks, and none should come with batteries. (Easily avoided if you don’t buy cocktail supplies from SkyMall.)

Start with a Parisian shaker (1) and a mixing glass (2), for shaking and stirring, respectively. You’ll need a strainer (3), too, for seeds and pulp. Get a jigger (4) with one-ounce and two-ounce sides and a stirring spoon (5) with some weight to it. (It’ll be easier to twirl.) And then settle on a paring knife (6) that feels good in your hand. This one—with a squared-off edge—is specifically designed for dealing with citrus. You will be dealing with a lot of citrus. (Want more items to upgrade your bar kit? Click here.)

4) Six Items That Shouldn’t End Up in Your Shopping Cart

  • Pre-packaged lemon or lime juice
  • Honey-flavored whiskey
  • Marshmallow-flavored vodka
  • Anything over 140 proof
  • Ron Burgundy-brand blended scotch
  • Any type of ice that is not actual ice

More from GQ:

5 Cocktails That Will Please Any Crowd

How Super Foods Affect Your Body

25 Best Restaurants in America for 2014

The 10 Habits of Highly Unflabby People

How to Win Reservations and Influence Waiters

Alan Richman’s Top 5 Dishes of 2014

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