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8 Upgrades For Your Bar Cart From Cocktail Experts

Curating a great home bar cart is one of the best ways to improve your drinking experience. Whether you’re treating yourself to a carefully crafted cocktail after a hard day’s work or mixing up Manhattans for a group of friends on a Saturday night, it’s important to have everything you need in one convenient place. We’ve learned from the top beverage pros that it’s a lot less complicated than you might think. Here are their home bar cart hacks—all are easy, affordable, and highly useful.

GEAR IT UP

Portable Personal Blender
Chetan Gangan, mixologist at Baar Baar in New York City, recommends keeping a small portable
blender on the bar cart. “We use this for our egg white cocktails, which reduces your need for a double shake.”
But It: NutriBullet Go Cordless Personal Blender—$30

Condiment Squeeze Bottles
Tim Waters, who oversees beverages at The Grey in Savannah, recommends having squeeze bottles handy. “They are great for egg white cocktails because it really prevents a mess, and makes it easy to add the right amount of egg white into a bar jigger or cocktail shaker when you’re making multiple cocktails.”
Buy it: OXO condiment squeeze bottles—$15/set of 3

Culinary torch
General manager and sommelier at Thirty Eight & Vine in Fort Worth, Texas Tiffany Tobey likes to smoke her Old Fashioned cocktails. Whether using bourbon or rye, a subtle hit of smoke can elevate a cocktail into the stratosphere. “I’ve always used a Sondiko culinary torch,” Tobey notes. She places wood chips on a small slab of wood, torches the chips, and places the glass upside-down to catch the smoke. “The piece of wood you use is easy to store in the cart, and the torch is pretty tiny! It also allows you to easily torch oranges, lemons, etc. for other types of drinks.”
Buy It: Sondiko butane torch—$18

Channel Zester
Founder and chief vinovation officer of SOMLYAY Hospitality Consulting Erik Segelbaum recommends a high-quality channel zester. “They’re not expensive, but the difference between using one of those and a peeler or a basic home zester is night and day. You get all the oils.”
Buy It: OXO citrus zester—$11

Japanese-Style Jigger
Jason Sorbet, beverage director of The Chloe in New Orleans, recommends “a simple but high-quality, double-hinged wine key.” He doesn’t believe you need a lot of equipment on a great bar cart, but adds that each item should be well considered. “You can buy a fancy bar cart set, but I personally use a more minimal set-up at home,” he says. “I have a no-prong strainer (with a hole in the handle, so I can hang it once I’m done using it) because it’s easy to use and fits in both my shaker tins and my mixing vessel; a conical fine-mesh strainer for shaken drinks; a double-walled metal mixing tin/stirring vessel (there are also some beautiful glass and crystal options available online), though I use metal because it’s a better conductor of heat so the drink dilutes less. …The final piece to my arsenal is a simple measuring jigger. They come in all shapes, sizes, and volumes, but ultimately I opt for a Japanese-style jigger from Piña barware.”
Buy It: The Slim jigger—$15

SPIRIT UP

Kathleen Hawkins, wine director at RPM Steak in Chicago, is a big believer in what she calls “support spirits.” She explains, “Everyone has the basics—whiskey, gin, tequila, etc.—but there are a handful of other spirits that are versatile and can be swapped in easily to change the flavor profile of many classic cocktails. [They also] have a longer shelf life than syrups.” She especially enjoys Italicus Rosolio di Bergamotto ($40): “Think of floral and complex bergamot flavors at the tip of your fingers. “A little splash in a Mint Julep is added refreshment along with the fresh mint and lots of ice.”

Segelbaum swears by green Chartreuse ($55). “What bacon is to food, green Chartreuse is to cocktails,” he says. Even with cocktails that don’t otherwise call for it, green Chartreuse provides “a herbaceous and spicy uplift” that instantly sets it apart. He highly recommends using it in a modified Bijou cocktail, using whisky instead of gin, as well as in a version of the Sazerac that uses Chartreuse in place of absinthe.

Gangan suggests making sure you have “some spirits from different parts of the world, like Japanese gin or vodka. I always have some Jin Jiji Indian dry gin and an Indian whisky on my bar cart. It’s a great conversation starter, and a fun way to educate your guests about different spirits from around the world that they may have never known or heard about.”

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