A Minimalist’s Manual for the Perfect Home Bar

Cocktail experts David and Lesley Solmonson offer tips on stocking your liquor cabinet on a budget

Short on shelf space? L.A. cocktail experts David and Lesley Solmonson believe a great home bar is an abridged one. Their new book, The 12 Bottle Bar, offers tips on stocking enough liquor to keep your cocktail list large but your investment small.

The Power Trio

The essential tools for Joe Keeper of Silver Lake’s Bar Keeper 

Photographs by Joseph Shin

1. Jigger
“It’s the measuring spoon for cocktails. Imagine a cake without accurate proportions!”

2. Stirring glass
“It’s wider than a drinking glass, which allows room for all ingredients, including ice.” 

3. Mixing spoon
“Sure, you can use a butter knife, but the proper spoon is important for dilution.”

The One Trick 

Harlowe’s Chris Amirault shows us the right way to stir

Step 1: Hold spoon with one hand like chopsticks. Anchor bottom of glass with other hand; don’t grasp it—that heats the liquid.


Step 2: Use back of spoon to stir, maintaining contact with inside of glass. It’s a finger flick. You’re not so much stirring the ice as tickling the glass.


Step 3: As you stir, watch for liquid level to reach top of ice—about 40 to 60 revolutions. That means it’s properly diluted. Strain and enjoy.  


The Fail-safe Manhattan

Combine 3 dashes Angostura bitters, 1 oz. sweet vermouth, and 2 oz. rye in stirring glass. Add a few large ice cubes. Stir until glass is chilled. Strain and serve with brandied cherry. —Sam Ross, Hinoki & the Bird

Photographs by (in order) illustrations: Joel Holland; Manhattan: Mike_fleming/flickr