While Metro Manila restaurants are slowly opening up with the easing of quarantine, the bar scene remains shut down until the government deems it safe. That means the conviviality and pleasure of drinking continues to be a strictly at-home affair.
So, to “bring the bar” to people’s homes, ANCX just launched its Cheers to the Man campaign by partnering with eight of Metro Manila’s best bars to offer for delivery specially curated cocktails, spirits, beer, coffee from June 12 to July 3, 2020. To learn how to order from Buccaneers Rum & Cocktails, EDSA Beverage Design Group, Nokal, OTO, The Back Room, The Curator Coffee & Cocktails, The Spirits Library, and Yes Please, read this.
For those who want to go a step further in bringing the bar home, you can become your own amateur bartender by learning how to mix drinks. Aside from stocking up your home bar with spirits and mixers (think vodka, whisky, bitters, soda), you’ll need to get your hands on a host of bar tools, glasses, and even cocktail books to help you perfect your mixing skills.
The most important thing in creating the right bar setup is not to get intimidated. Your home bar doesn’t need to look like the impressively well-stocked bars you frequent. Just slowly build up the following elements of your bar, one drink at a time.
To start, champion bartender Lester Ligon, a partner at The Spirits Library, advises to move the bar from the kitchen (where you may tend to mix your drinks) to the area of the house where you’ll most likely enjoy your drinks, in most cases, the living room. The bar can be set on anything, whether a small table, a countertop, or a cart, as long as there’s enough room to place all the bar items.
Next, you’ll need your basic bar tools: a cocktail shaker, mixing glass, jigger, barspoon, cocktail strainer, and corkscrew (for opening wine). If you don’t have these items on hand, of course you can always “make do” with existing utensils from your kitchen—a measuring cup instead of a jigger, a Mason jar or large bottle with lid for a cocktail shaker, chopsticks instead of a barspoon, or a slotted spoon for a cocktail strainer. However, those tools are best kept in the kitchen. For a proper bar setup in your living room, good quality bar tools are the way to go.
Philippine Bar Products is a home-based one-stop shop that happens to have a great selection of bar tools and accessories (think bar-themed cufflinks), and drinks books as well. The company usually supplies bars and restaurants, but is now offering a wide array of professional-quality bar tools through ANCX’s Cheers to the Man campaign.
When choosing bar tools, Philippine Bar Products owner Goldie Fame Sison advises going for quality over low price “because you get what you pay for.” For shakers, she says, “A proper shaker should be leak-proof and have a good grip so as not to spill anything when shaking,”
Strainers come in different shapes and styles, but no matter the type, Sison advises, “Strainers should be sturdy enough that they can handle two drinks at once.”
While Philippine Bar Products offers items from the United States and Spain, it’s their Japanese products that are especially sought after. Sison shares, “Bartenders prefer Japanese bar tools because of their sophistication and elegance. Because in Japanese bartending, it’s so artful that even the simplest drinks are painstakingly prepared.” She cites, for example, the Birdy shaker, “Each shaker is micro polished by hand to achieve the ideal surface smoothness that produces the maximum amount of air bubbles and minimizes unwanted ice flaking.” Also, Japanese-style jiggers have pre-cut lines for more accurate measurements, while Japanese barspoons have tight-coiled stems that spin easily between fingers.
For those starting from scratch, your best bet is to invest in a full bar set, which includes everything you’ll need to start mixing drinks right away. Aside from the tools mentioned above, Philippine Bar Products’ Deluxe Bartenders’ Kit also includes an ice scoop, muddler, bottle opener, pour spouts, juicer, and corkscrew in a handy black carry-on bag.
Glasses and mugs
Aside from a set of bar tools, you’ll need different types of glasses for your cocktails. And yes, while you may think that any glass will do, the shape of a glass actually does make a difference in terms of temperature, aroma, and taste, not to mention your cocktails will instantly look great. Lester Ligon suggests the following basic glasses:
If you want to expand your glass collection beyond the basics, Philippine Bar Products offers fun and stylish pineapple-themed mugs and shot glasses, copper julep cups, and collectible tiki mugs in fantasy Polynesian motifs.
This is one component of cocktail mixing that many amateurs tend to overlook. Ligon recommends using ice that is clear, clean, and fresh. He suggests storing the ice in resealable plastic freezer bags to prevent them from absorbing any unwanted aromas from the freezer. You can also freeze your ice like the pros using specially designed sphere ice molds. These make ice balls that tend to melt at a much slower rate than regular cubed ice.
To order bar tools, glasses, and other bar accessories from Philippine Bar Products, you can contact (0917) 825-3263.
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Last but not least, you’ll need a proper cocktail book or two to guide you in making classic and not-so-classic cocktails. While there are lots of cocktail recipes online and published books, you’ll want to start with books recommended and used by bartenders themselves. It so happens that Poblacion-based bar, The Spirits Library, is selling the following collection of well-regarded reference books on cocktails, whisky, and Bourbon:
- Death & Co: Modern Classic Cocktails by David Kaplan and Nick Fauchald, 1st Edition 2014, P1,900
- To Have and Have Another: A Hemingway Cocktail Companion by Philip Greene, 2nd Edition 2015, P1,200
- Playboy Bartender's Guide by Thomas Mario, 2nd Edition 2003, P900
- The Waldorf Astoria Bar Book by Frank Caiafa, Updated Edition 2016, P1,400
- Gentleman's Companion, Volume II: Being an Exotic Drinking Book, or Around the
- World with Jigger, Beaker, and Flask, Special Leather Bound Edition 1946, P5,000
- Whisky: The Definitive World Guide by Michael Jackson, 1st Edition 2005, P2,500
- Japanese Whisky by Brian Ashcraft, 1st Edition 2018, P1,000
- The Social History of Bourbon: An Unhurried History of Our Star-Spangled American Drink by Gerald Carson, 1st edition 1963, P1,800
By the way, The Spirits Library also offers bar tools—a Naranja shaker, Naranja jigger, BarConic Hawthorne strainer, and BarConic Trident Barspoon—which can be purchased individually or as a complete set.
You can order the above books and bar tools directly from The Spirits Library at (0917) 160-1162, and via The fb.com/TheSpiritsLibrary or Instagram