If you want to improve your home bartending, the first thing you want to do is stock up your bar. Once you have some basic tools, you'll be making pro-status cocktails in no time.
Start with your booze collection – invest in some bourbon or rye, gin, vodka, tequila, light rum, and triple sec/Cointreau to start.
Campari, mescal, Irish whisky, blended scotch, dark/spiced rum, and coffee liquor/Kahlua are also useful but not mandatory.
Next, grab some small bottles of club soda and tonic water. Get limes and make simple syrup like so.
Cocktail Shaker + Strainer ($14.99)
A good shaker will improve your cocktails tenfold if you don't have one already. We love the "Boston style" shakers that use a metal cup and a pint glass. Don't be intimidated – here's how you use them. Make sure you have a strainer, too. We like the ones without handles like this one ($5.49) but get whatever floats your boat.
Bar Spoon ($4.45)
Some martinis like Manhattans like to be stirred. This inexpensive tool is handy to have, and it makes you look fancy.
Sugar, mint, cucumbers and other miscellaneous infusions often need muddling -- this tool will make your bartending way easier.
Good Paring Knife ($17.94)
Perfect for slicing garnishes.
Lime Juicer ($8.49)
Your margaritas will thank you.
Angled Measuring Jigger ($6.95)
Jiggers are especially great when you are starting out or making elaborate cocktails. We like this one because it's easy to handle and doesn't spill.
Stem Glass (four for $19.99)
We like coupe glasses, but martini/cocktail ones are just as good.
Old-Fashioned/Rocks Glass (four for $15.97)
For lowball drinks and straight-up liquor.
Dry and Sweet Vermouth ($13.99)
Buy one of each. Remember that fortified wine doesn't last forever once opened, so don't leave it out indefinitely.
Luxardo Cherries ($25.25)
These are a little pricey for cherries, but we promise it's worth it. You can totally get regular maraschinos if you are strapped for cash, but Luxardos will dramatically improve your Manhattans.