LOW BUDGET BAR: UNDER $100
There’s no need to spend a small fortune to outfit a home bar. As nice as it would be to have a home mixology studio completely decked out in gold and crystal, inexpensive tools do the job just as well. For less than $100, you’ll be outfitted with the absolute essentials and be ready to sling a few of your favorite drinks.
Home base: For starters, you’ll want a bar cart to keep your tools organized and on display. An industrial utility cart ($30; ikea.com) is not only mobile, but also has three tiers: one for glassware, one for tools and one for bottles. (An extra empty bookshelf would also do just fine.)
Hardware: When sticking to a tight budget, restaurant supply stores are your best friends. Don’t have one nearby? Try Amazon. Stock up on the basics, like a one- and two-ounce jigger ($5; amazon.com), a simple Boston shaker ($16.50; amazon.com) that can also double as a mixing glass, a Hawthorne strainer ($7; amazon.com), a barspoon ($8; amazon.com) and a muddler ($7; amazon.com). If you envision making lots of cocktails with herbs, also go in for a Julep strainer ($4; amazon.com).
Into more of a vintage vibe? Scour your local antique and thrift shops for the tools you need. While strainers and barspoons are harder to come by, shakers are easy enough to find and run the gamut from under $10 to more than $100.
Reference: How will you decide what to drink? There’s no real need to thrown down for a cocktail book when the Internet’s available, but a handy beginner’s guide to modern and classic drinks is The Craft of the Cocktail ($20; amazon.com) by “King Cocktail” Dale DeGroff.