What are some of the things that attract you to a particular bar? The lighting perhaps, or the great selection of cocktails on offer, or maybe just the overall vibe of the place. Although bars differ from one another in many aspects, they also have a lot in common. Here are some of essential items that no bar can do without. Stop them all on your next bar visit if you need proof you’re still sober.
The cabinet is where first impressions happen. As soon as you enter a bar, you’re likely to notice the cabinet that stocks all of the bar’s liquor. It’s to give you a clear view of all the liquor available as well as help you decide on a special drink if you fancy something from the cabinet not available on the menu. At a popular bar in Lower Parel in Mumbai, we once ordered an Aperol Spritz simply because we saw a bottle in the cabinet and couldn’t find the drink on the menu!
A true bartender must know the right glassware for the right alcohol to be served. Having the right glassware is one of the most important must-haves at any bar. After all, you won’t be happy to drink wine out of a beer mug, right? Clean and clear glasses also help in increasing the visual appeal of your favourite drink. Bars usually have a stock of various glasses used to serve various types of liquors on hand.
3) Ice tools
Other than regular alcoholic drinks like whiskey or rum, other cocktails also require ice in them. Keeping this in mind, a bar must have ice tools that includes an ice tray, ice buckets and tongs to serve ice. Ice trays comes in various sizes and shapes as well. Some bars, such as Miss T in Mumbai, have elevated ice cubes to the next level by personalizing their names on it.
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Current tool-roll configuration, probably my go-to favorite assortment of items. I just lotioned the leather, re-waxed the canvas, cured all the wood and resharpened points and blade edges as necessary. In addition to this I tend to travel with a converted camera bag full of strainers, jiggers, mixing glasses, small cutting board, ice scoop, etc. I may be sharing that next. Just had to share this little kit though, 'cause she was looking extra pretty in this afternoon light and if you're anything like me just looking at it alone should inspire you to whip up something delicious!
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4) The bar tool box
The bar tool box is so precious to a bartender that he’ll often be seen wearing it on his apron with the most important tools. The actual big box contains tools like
- Jigger- A double ended vessel used to measure the liquor.
- Speed pourers – It controls the flow and amount of the liquor poured.
- Juice presser – To squeeze lemon or lime juice without much trouble.
- Bar spoon – A long spoon with few twists in between, used to stir cocktails and drinks.
- Muddler- It is a wooden tool used to crush mint leaves, lemon slices etc.
- Cocktail Shaker- Used to mix two or more liquids along with ice and mixers.
- Knife – A sharp knife is required to cut the ice and other items used to garnish drinks precisely.
- Chopping board – Knife and chopping board go hand in hand. To cut fast and neatly chopping board is must.
- Tea strainer – After mixing the cocktail, used for separating unwanted mixers or garnishes from the cocktail.
- Hawthrone strainer – Used to separate ice from the drink before being served. It is attached to the shaker.
Next on the list are mixers that are added to liquor to balance the drink. They are usually accompaniments that include items such as club soda, cola, tonic water, sugar syrup and juices like tomato, pineapple, cranberry, ginger and orange among others.
A good drink is all about good presentation. No matter how amazing your drink tastes, if it’s not well presented, the experience remains incomplete. To keep their presentation game on point, bartenders always ensure keeping the following garnishes in your bar- mint leaves, lime, lemon, salt, pepper, cocktail olives, cocktail onions and cheese.
7) Bottle Openers
To avoid being clumsy and also to save time, bottle openers are a must. There are different kinds of bottle openers for different types of alcohol such as a regular bottle opener for metal caps on bottles and corkscrews for wine bottles.
8) Bar stools
Just like the bar cabinet, it is necessary to have correct kind of bar stool. They also help to differentiate between the dining area and the bar area clearly. Bar stools must be comfortable enough for you to sit and enjoy your drink peacefully. The height of the stool is usually decided in conjunction with the bar’s serving area to offer you a hassle-free drinking experience.
Last but not the least – snacks. After all, there’s only so much you can drink without eating something along side. Some bars skip munchies altogether but the best ones usually have a bar menu that contains items you can nibble on while enjoying your drink.
A bar needs to have a character of its own – something that patrons can identify with to turn into regular customers. Again, the best bars everywhere have their own uniqueness that helps them stand out from the rest. You’ll feel a certain energy from every bar you visit and depending on how your experience goes, you’ll decide if the bar is worth a visit once again.
What other things have you seen that are common in all the bars you’ve visited? Let us know in the comments below.
Featured image shot at Thirsty City in Lower Parel, Mumbai by Priyanko Sarkar. All other images from Unsplash.
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Palak Khandelwal is a chai enthusiast and a writer on her journey to making a career in journalism