Ask an Expert: Gary McIntire of Collins & Coupe on Ten Essential Tools for Your Home Bar
Get to Know Gary, owner of Collins & Coupe in North Park
What he’s drinking at home: Manhattans
Favorite Neighborhood Bar: Sycamore Den
Fun Fact: Gary was a Master Model Builder at Legoland for 10 years. His models are currently displayed all over the world.
Growing up, Gary McIntire wasn’t much of a drinker, sticking to a few standbys when he went out to bars. Then he met his wife Logan, and together the pair began to explore the world of cocktail recipes. His “ah-ha” moment came when Logan bought him a copy of the book, “The Art of the Bar”. He read it cover to cover and began testing tipples at parties they hosted with their friends. The parties became so popular that they created San Diego’s beloved supper club, The Cellar Door.
“I’m a creative person” says McIntire “and making cocktails is a creative endeavor. I’m also kind of a science nerd and it’s a nice intersection between the two, because really, cocktails are all about making a balanced formula. Once I figured out that balanced formula, it was like having the key that unlocked the door to the world of cocktails”.
When Gary was presented with the opportunity to open Collins & Coupe in North Park, he jumped at the chance.
“Everyone always asks me why I didn’t just start with an online store. Online shopping is convenient, but it’s not the same. [At the shop] you can taste the bitters, you can hold the glassware, you can see how the spoon feels when you spin it around in a mixing glass and there is something really important about that. I wanted to create a spot where I’d like to shop and where people can come experience what we offer first hand,” he explained.
So, what are the essentials for setting up a home bar? Gary has a few suggestions.
One of the most fundamental things about a making a great cocktail is proper measurements. If you’re free pouring it will always be hit or miss whether you’re going to make a good drink or not. Always measure!
Most cocktails are shaken and in this process, mixed and chilled with ice. There are different styles of shakers and it’s all a matter of personal preference. (Gary’s preference is a weighted tin with a pint glass.)
Strainers help to keep the ice cubes, juice pulp, and muddled bits in the shaker and not in your drink. It’s always a good idea to pour your cocktail through a strainer and into the glass to deliver the perfect drink.
Muddlers can be used for a variety of different things. Whether you’re crushing a sugar cube with some bitters for an old fashioned or bruising mint and lime for a mojito, a good muddler is essential. You can find wooden muddlers at Collins & Coupe made by a local artist, Karissa.
Most cocktails that are made from just spirits will be stirred, rather than shaken. You’ll want a cocktail spoon for this. They come in all shapes, lengths and styles, which just comes down to personal preference.
Ice Cube Trays
Ice is key! If you don’t have ice, you’re not making a good drink. You’ll want ice for shaking cocktails as well as ice for the final presentation of your drink. Large ice cubes, crushed ice, and spheres are some common types of ice cubs found in cocktails.
Most cocktails will have some sort of citrus, fruit, or herb in them and you’ll need to be ready to slice and dice. A knife will also come in handy when needing to cut garnishes.
A good cocktail should be made with fresh juice. A citrus squeeze can go a long way!
Bitters are the herbs and spices for a cocktail. You can put bitters into almost any cocktail and it will increase its complexity. There are a myriad of bitters to choose from and some work better than others in specific drinks. However, aromatic bitters are the most commonly used and most versatile. If you’re going to just have one on hand, aromatic should be it.
There is a different glass for every drink, and serving drinks in the proper glassware is important. When thinking about stocking up your home bar glassware, one pair each of classic rocks, coupe, wine, pint, and Collins would be the way to go. All the glassware available for purchase at Collins & Coupe has been found second hand and is curated by Gary.
Find your essentials at Collins & Coupe
Hours: Monday and Thursday, 11am-7pm; Friday, 11am-8pm; Saturday, 10am-8pm; Sunday 10am-7pm
Location: 2876 El Cajon Blvd, #100, North Park, San Diego
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