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In addition to planning a wedding, my fiancé and I are also in the process of building our first house! Even though this means life is more than a bit chaotic right now than usual, I’m so excited about this creative opportunity.
In addition to the home-brewing setup in the garage for him and the walk-in pantry for me, we both really wanted a wet bar in the living area. He’s become a bit of a whiskey connoisseur and I love writing cocktail recipes almost as much as food recipes, so I think we’ll put this setup to good use.
We’ve worked it into our floor plan, and I’m excited to add some bar essentials to our wedding registry to make sure it’s well-stocked. After doing some research, I’ve come up with a list of everything I think we’ll need.
If you also enjoy a good drink or at least do a fair amount of entertaining, consider adding some of these bar essentials to your registry, or use the list to stock the wet bar of your dreams!
We both grew up and went to college in Oregon, which means we share a deep and unshakable love for beer. It took us awhile to come around to wine, and a full year of living in South Africa to really appreciate how tasty a good glass can be.
Now that our palates have developed a bit, we need a wider selection of glasses than the four I grabbed from a friend’s moving sale. I’m still learning what glasses of different shapes do for each variety of wine and I want to make sure I get off on the right foot. For now, we’re going to go with what seems to be the standard.
What to buy: I’m going for the Libbey 12-Piece Vineyard Reserve Wine Glass Set. It comes with basic red and white wine glasses so it’ll be enough to get us started, and we can add to our collection as we learn more.
We like to see our wine when we drink it, so I didn’t want to get anything too colorful or textured. Not to mention, these simple wine glasses will be much more timeless than a trendy patterned option might prove to be.
There is an overwhelming amount of good beer available in Oregon. Seriously. I cannot emphasize this enough.
Oregon has the most breweries per capita by far, and nearly all of them make an excellent brew.
We’ve developed a taste for a wide range of beers, from chocolatey stouts to super hoppy IPAs to fruity wits, and we need pretty pint glasses to serve these glorious creations in.
My fiancé has also started home-brewing, so this has become doubly important. We have a collection of mismatched pint glasses from various festivals and breweries we’ve been to over the years, but I’d like a simple matching set that we can use for guests.
What to buy: Yes, there are some very cute pint glasses out there with all kinds of silly and inappropriate quotes written across them, but we’re going for the simple ARC International Luminarc Pub Beer Glasses. They’re plain glass and made to the pint standard in the US. Best of all, they are my favorite thing when it comes to cleanup after a festive gathering: dishwasher safe!
My fiancé, several of our friends, and my dad all enjoy a good whiskey or scotch. I’m learning to like it… slowly. I still can’t help but make a bit of a face after every sip, but I’ll never say no to one of my fiancé’s delicious whiskey sours.
Although they can take swigs from the bottle or just drink out of pint glasses, I think we should have a set of proper rocks glasses. Again, I’m going for something simple and classic here. The color of the whiskey is important to the drinking experience, and we can save the flashier stuff for after we have a good basic set on hand.
What to buy: The Anchor-Hocking 12-Pack Heavy Base Rocks Glasses are perfectly simple and dishwasher safe. A heavier base (hopefully) means fewer stains on the carpet, too!
Although I do prefer a good cocktail or glass of wine, there’s nothing like a round of shots to get a football game started. At least, that’s a tradition that my friends and I partake in. It’s also useful for measuring out shots into your cocktails (if you care to know exactly how many you’re consuming, that is).
No matter what you’re using them for, having at least a few is essential to your home bar setup. I’m going to veer away from the perfectly plain glass for these, but I won’t go quite into the neon shot glasses zone.
What to buy: I can’t help but think these Barbuzzo Mason Jar Shot Glasses are adorable. I like serving pre-made cocktails in mason jars and these would totally add to the experience! I think I might also have to buy a few sets myself to give as gifts, come holiday season
In order to make a cocktail properly, you need a shaker. Using a shaker is a great way to chill a drink without actually adding ice cubes to the finished produce, and it’s the best (and most fun) way to make sure everything really gets mixed up well. I want a three-piece set: shaker, strainer, and lid. Hello, perfect mojitos (I am already dreaming about this tangy rhubarb version)!
What to buy: This Barware Styles “Classic and Elegant“ Martini and Cocktail Shaker Set totally fits the bill. It’s made of stainless steel so it’ll hold up well and it’s three pieces, just like I wanted.
Corkscrew and Bottle Opener
This is likely a given and probably something you already have. If there’s one thing that working in a restaurant taught me, it’s that wine keys (aka corkscrews) are precious, and doubly so if they’re double-hinged.
A double-hinged corkscrew will mean you almost never break the cork when opening a bottle. It gives you way more leverage!
We have a grounded bottle opener built into our kitchen island that we love, but if you don’t have one yet, throw this essential onto your registry, too.
What to buy: I want to get his and hers corkscrews, in small part because my fiancé manages to lose absolutely everything he lays his hands on. In case the style of each of these isn’t clear, I might even take a label maker to them.
I want the True Sky Blue Truetap Double Hinged Corkscrew because it’s pretty and well-reviewed.
My fiancé wants the True Fabrications Wood Professional Corkscrew because it’s elaborate and looks fancy. We all get what we want.
To see some more options, check out Foodal’s Guide to Corkscrews and Wine Openers.
Seriously, how gorgeous and fancy are those glass decanters you see people pour their whiskey from on shows like Mad Men? Oh wait, you’ve used one of those in real life because you already own one?
Scratch that, then.
This is a definite “extra,” but it would make whiskey drinking way more fun, and maybe even help to get me on board eventually. Not to mention, this will look so much prettier sitting open on our wet bar than a bottle of Jack Daniel’s.
What to buy: My fiancé didn’t want anything too elaborate, so we chose this Wine Enthusiast Ambassador Whiskey Decanter. It’s simple and sleek, but again, much better looking than an ordinary bottle of whiskey from the store.
A Hawthorne strainer is a useful tool to have on your bar, especially if you don’t plan to always use your shaker when you make cocktails, or you want a strainer for your shaker that has a wider mouth. It’ll fit most glasses and these typically aren’t quite as fine, so they’ll let in a little pulp through if that’s what you want.
What to buy: I like this Swissmar Stainless Steel Cocktail Strainer because it has a nice long handle and prongs to keep it secure on a glass. It’s stainless steel too, which means it should last a good long while.
Most bartenders use a tool called a jigger to measure liquor into cocktails. It’s two-sided to measure one and two ounce pours, making it extra easy and quick for you to whip up lots of Cosmos.
OXO Steel Double Jigger available at Amazon
If you’re a big cocktail drinker, consider adding this to your collection. In that case, you may also want to add a bar spoon, which is simply a long spoon that’s designed for stirring cocktails. I’m hoping to get a few for our wet bar!
Once I start getting really fancy with my cocktail-making, I think I’ll also add a conical cocktail sieve to make sure my drinks are extra smooth.
A muddler is another great tool for the cocktail maker!
A lot of these items are small and simple, and if I was shopping from someone else’s registry, I would put them together into a bar gift basket for something fun to open that’s useful to boot. A muddler is most commonly used to break down and mix herbs and fruit into a cocktail.
Did I mention mojitos already? There are so many mojitos in my future! Our new house will have a huge balcony that we’re hoping to spend plenty of time out on during the summer, so we’re thinking an ice bucket may be in order to keep our white wines chilled… but that’s it for me for now.
Start with the Right Setup
I can’t keep adding to this list, or it might never end!
What’s your favorite item in your home wet bar? Anything we missed here? Let us know in the comments below!
- Enhance Your Favorite Wine with the Right Glassware
- A Look at the Best Wine Openers and Corkscrews on the Market Today
- The Definitive Guide to Beer Mugs: Choosing, Using, and Abusing
© Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published December 5th, 2014. Last updated March 6th, 2017. Product photos via Amazon. Uncredited photos: Shutterstock
About Chelsea Miller
Chelsea Miller, born and raised in Portland, Oregon, graduated from the University of Oregon where she discovered both her love of football and cooking great food. She's the founder of the food blog "A Duck's Oven" and began writing for Foodal in 2014.