Home Bar Set Up - Starter Level for under $55

Your home bar. A sanctuary tucked away in the corner of your living room, or your kitchen or your bedroom (just me?) where you can perfect the art of cocktails and entertain like a boss. Everyone is cooler when they can mix a mean cocktail.

This is beginner bar set up. We can investigate level 2 another time. For now, you really don’t need a very complicated setup to create a beautiful cocktail to finish - or start (I won’t judge) your day with. Here are a few things that I think should always be in your home bar, with affiliate Amazon links to help support this website:



I’ve always had trouble loving Cobbler shakers (which is the 3 piece one with a built-in strainer we all have at home) -  my hands would get wet and cold, there was a vacuum seal from hell which meant I couldn’t get the cap off, and it would leak precious alcohol. It was a total disaster. The rule here is: don’t keep me from my drink.  Given the fights I got into with that shaker, I threw it straight in the garbage and went to my local Cocktail Emporium (http://cocktailemporium.ca - if you’re Toronto-based you should check this place out) and bought an 18-28 (or 15-30) metal-on-metal shaker. This style is similar to a Boston shaker (swapping the pint glass for a smaller metal cup) and I love it so much. It takes a bit of finesse to use this shaker, but your martini’s will come out perfectly - as long as you use gin, and not vodka because vodka martini’s are against (my) the rules.

Bar Spoon

For some of our classic cocktails, we’re not looking to shake them up, but rather to gently mix all the ingredients together (insert boisterous argument about whether or not alcohol can actually be bruised here). Regardless, there are times where you don’t want an air-bubble infused cocktail. A beautiful, long-handled bar spoon will do the trick in this circumstance.


Grab yourself a Hawthorne strainer, which is easier to use than a Julep strainer. And for home bar purposes, probably all you’ll need. Unless you’re a showoff. Then by all means get a Julep strainer.


Throw that free shot glass that came with your bottle of Cuervo away (just kidding, keep it for tequila shots). And get yourself a proper, 1 and 2 ounce metal jigger so your drinks will always be perfectly measured out.



These are arguably the most important bitters you will keep in your bar. You need them for Old Fashioneds and Manhattans. Always have a spare bottle too because you WILL run out of them when you need them the most.

With this very simple bar set up, you’ll be able to throw together an old fashioned, manhattan or martini, even if your friends show up unannounced. And quite frankly, if they show up unannounced and refuse all 3 of those drinks, you should just find new friends.