Brian Miller's Top Tools for the Home Bartender

Recreating professional artistry at home requires some basic ingredients.

Savvy at-home bartending begs for some well-selected basic ingredients. Brian Miller from New York City's Death & Company names his favorites.


The right ice trays

"Having the right ice is important to have proper dilution in cocktails. If you go to any bartender's home bar, he's got stacks of different types of ice—small, large, crushed."


 Boston shaker and separate strainer

"A lot of people get decorative shakers [with a built-in strainer and cap], and they're not really that functional. Have you ever tried to open one of those after you've shaken it? It's next to impossible."



"If you don't know how to make a drink, you need to be exact. The smallest amount can really throw a drink off."


 A hand juicer

"I can't tell you how many times I've gone into a liquor store and someone says, 'Which margarita mix do you think is the best one?' I say, 'Put that away, grab yourself some Cointreau, grab yourself some limes, you'll be fine.' Pre-packaged cocktails are a joke."


 The right ingredients

"You should have a little bit of everything—except for vodka. If you have vodka, it's great for tinctures and for cleaning your equipment. But other than that, I don't really have vodka."


 A recipe book—for  yourself

"Not just a cocktail book, but a recipe book that you write recipes in. That way you can bring the drink you had at a bar back home."



"You want things that make it your own bar. My bar at home—I have a tiki bar. It's literally made out of bamboo."


Read the accompaying article in the October 2008 issue of Wine Enthusiast Magazine.

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