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Non Alcoholic Bar Basics: Products and Essential Equipment

There’s a non-alcoholic equivalent for most drink categories you would normally stock your bar and fridge with, and within each category, there's a variety of brands and products available. Beer has the widest selection, but spirits are not far behind. The category we’ve got our eye on is the RTD. Ready to drink beverages come pre-mixed in cans and bottles, but these are sophisticated and balanced concoctions unlike the sugary breezers of the Nineties. They come into their own at BBQ’s, picnics and anywhere outdoors that you wouldn’t want to to drag a bar cart to.

But for the purposes of this bar-stocking exercise we’ll focus on spirits instead of RTD’s, so you can waltz on over to your drinks tray and get your Don Draper on.

Non Alcoholic Drink Categories

The range of alcohol free drinks available can be broadly broken up into the same categories as their ethanol- containing counterparts:

And we hope to see Sake make an appearance soon too!

Bar Essentials 

1. Choose your fridge items
There are so many beer and sparkling options that it’s hard to know where to start. If you want to take the guess work out of things, read our product reviews or order a mixed box to try some out and see what you like

2. Select your spirits
A gin, rum, whisky, tequila and New Blend will probably form the basis of most of the mixed drinks you’ll make. You don’t need all of these if they’re not to your liking. The New Blends are worth exploring if you’re after something different as this is where you’ll discover flavours ranging from mulled wine to tropical beach vibe.

3. Get some mixers
Depending on which spirits you stock up on, you’ll probably want to get some soda water, tonic water, ginger ale or cola. Because non alcoholic spirits tend to be more delicate than the alcoholic variety, you need something that compliments rather than overpowers. We reckon Strangelove is up to the task.

4. Simple syrup
You can make your own or buy some. The beauty of making your own is that you can infuse it with herbs and citrus to really customise your drinks. And it’s super simple to make.

5. Bottle opener
It goes without saying that you need a bottle opener but we thought we’d point it out just in case. In fact, get a cute one to add to your keychain and then it’s never far away – that’s right, you can drink and drive now! 

6. Jigger
We just love the word jigger. Kind of a cross between Mick Jagger and a zig zag. Anyhoo, these nifty little snifters measures are your right hand man in the making of cocktails. And when it comes to making mixed drinks with alcoholic spirits you’ll need one to help you experiment and arrive at the right ratio of spirit to mixer.

7. Ice trays
Ice is a must in your mixed drink. The question is what size and shape. Some people love those enormous boulder-like domes, while others like solid cubes. But there’s nothing wrong with the conventional rectangle. The most important thing is that it is super solid. You want something that isn’t going to melt quickly and dilute your drink.

8. Swizzle sticks
Is this a 70’s throwback? We don’t know, but we love them! Stick one in your drink and swirl till everything’s mixed just right (and said in the voice of Barry White).

9. Cocktail shaker
This one’s debatable. You can probably do without it if you’re not making anything with multiple spirits. But they do look good when you shake them like a Polaroid picture.

10. Garnish
Herbs, spices, salt, dehydrated citrus – there are so many things that can dress and compliment your drinks. Or just go au naturel.

11. Glassware
We happen to have a bit of thing for glassware (trip to Murano anyone?), and have been known to make inconvenient detours all over the world just to pick up some obscure vessel. But all you really need is some tumblers, highballs, coupes and flutes. Now you’re good to pour and sip.

And there it is – your complete guide to setting up a non alcoholic bar. Now put on some tunes, check out some recipes, and take off that mask. It’s time to slip into something tasty. 

Image courtesy of Jenny Pace