Homemade Bars: Barware alternatives

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The home bartending is a fun hobby. So much fun, that almost every wedding registry has at least one bar set, that usually ends up in the cabinet never to be used… And now that the hot summer skyrocketed the cocktail demand, home bars become a necessity. Still, however, there are people who think that there is way to much money required to start a hobby that will be only sparkly used. And that actually might be true! If you want good quality hardware a rough estimation comes to about $50. On that you have to add the cost of the liquor and you have a cost that shatters your dreams. And although the liquor cost cannot be reduced (well, it can be, but then a bad hangover will be the price for that decision) the tools can certainly be reduced. Today we will see how you can substitute those tools with items that you probably already have in the household. These substitutions are recommended for those who want to make a cocktail once in a while and they don’t really care about cocktails that much. If you are a regular mixer then you should buy the bullet and get a set.

A typical bar set except the shaker has some other tools.

We need:

  • A spoon/stirrer
  • A muddler
  • A strainer
  • A zester
  • A lemon squeezer
  • A pony and jigger

Now let’s see how we can substitute these tools one by one.

The spoon can easily substitute with a chopstick. To be honest, I still mostly use the chopstick. It can navigate through the ice chunks a lot easier than a bar spoon. In addition you can place it in between the glass and the metal of the Boston shaker to protect the glass. In short the chopstick although I have a bar spoon is a requirement.

Of course occasionally you will need the spoon capabilities to retrieve olives, cherries and the like. But this is definitely something that a regular spoon will do.

For the citrus squeezer a fork does miracles.

A muddler is essential for integrating fruits in a drink, or getting the essential oils from herbs. Mojitos cannot be made without this essential piece of equipment. Essential, but easily substituted with any plastic or wooden blunt object. Also a good tip to know is that asian stores have plastic muddlers, used the in Thai cuisine, for less than half the price of what regular kitchen or that bar stores usually sell for.

Jigger and pony are used to measure 2 and 1 fl. oz. respectively. However a regular shot glass is ~50 ml (2 fl. oz.).

So a regular shot glass can be a measuring device. Whole for a jigger and half for a pony. But even if you don’t have a shot glass, any other known volume measuring device can be used. A tablespoon, an espresso shot glass, etc.

Regarding the zester, it is completely useless. A knife does a much better job.

Strainer? It is even better to use a regular strainer. Like the one that you got for tea, before you realized that the teabags were easier and then the strainer was placed in a cabinet to be forgotten for ever… You just need to know how to use it.

Just like this. You need to experiment with its use which is not that easy, but definitely a solution.

Finally the shaker… This is easy! Any closed container can be used like a shaker. I prefer a jar. Any jar can do. Just wash it well so the smell of the previous content does not propagate. This one used to host pickles.

Actually the jar thing used to be a tradition of the south. With all the bugs that fly around in the swampy south you need to protect your beverage from intruders. That’s how the tradition started. Now there are mason jars in every size and shape for everything; from beer to wine. Although I don’t approve these uses, I keep a dozen of mason jars. I mainly use them for southern drinks; mojitos, mint julep lemonades and the like. They are also excellent party items. You fill them up with ice and you give one to each of your guests. They can add whatever they want from liqueur, to juices, herbs and fruits. Lid up, shake and enjoy.

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Last modified: July 31, 2014 by Georgios Pyrgiotakis