Homemade Maple Pecan Granola Recipe

Homemade Granola is healthier and tastier than the sugary, store bought stuff. Plus it's SO easy! | themillennialmenu.com

Granola is my go-to breakfast and snack option. It's crunchy, chock full of goodness, and just a little sweet. But this recipe for Homemade Maple Pecan Granola changed the granola game for me. This stuff is addicting - and so so so much healthier for you than any granola you're buying from the store. Some store-bought granola's have more sugar in a serving than a piece of chocolate cake - I'd rather have the cake! My recipe has only 1 cup of pure maple syrup as a sweetener - and that's it. Plus, you'd never know because it's so yummy.

If you can stir things together and preheat an oven, you can make homemade granola. It's THAT easy. Be sure to store your granola in the fridge to keep it fresh for as long as possible - though I can't say mine lasts very long in my house! I eat a beautiful yogurt parfait every day as my morning snack at school, layered with plain Greek yogurt, a scoop of granola, and fresh berries. I never have to add sugar to my plain yogurt when I have granola because it's just so flavorful - I think it's the toasted pecans. Mmm. It's also great with milk - or just by the handful.

My version is centered around gooey maple pecan goodness, but the coolest part about homemade granola is you can vary up the ingredients. Want to try cranberry pistachio granola? or maybe chocolate almond? Go for it. Stick with 4 cups of oats, 1 cup of oil as your base (I like coconut oil, but canola also works), and 1 cup of pure maple syrup, and add whatever mix-ins you'd like. 



Homemade Maple Pecan Granola

Makes about 6 cups of granola
Other Recipes With These Ingredients: Old Fashioned Oats: Make a hearty bowl of oatmeal for breakfast or add a scoop to your muffins or breads // Coconut oil: Use as a substitute in your favorite baking // Ground flax seed: add to your smoothies and oatmeal
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour

Ingredients

  • 4 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1 cup sliced almonds
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes (Substitute: sweetened coconut flakes)
  • 1 cup ground flax seed
  • 1 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 cup melted coconut oil (Substitute: canola oil)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla

*Note: You can really use anything you want in your granola. I recommend starting with the oats and keeping the maple syrup, oil, and vanilla, and playing around with the mix-ins. Some suggestions: walnuts, chia seeds, cashews, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, dried fruit (mixed in after you bake), and more! 




Dietary Substitutions:
Gluten Free: While all of these ingredients are naturally gluten free, ensure that they are not contaminated by reading the packaging - especially on the oats.
Dairy-Free, Vegetarian & Vegan friendly

Directions:

1. Pre-heat the oven to 350°F. 
2. Spray a baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray or use my favorite non-stick aluminum foil (find out why it's my secret to easy clean up)
3. Toast your 4 cups old-fashioned oats on the baking sheet in the oven for 10-15 minutes.
4. While the oats are toasting, whisk together 1 cup pure maple syrup, 1 cup melted coconut oil, and 1 tablespoon vanilla in a small bowl.
4. In a large mixing bowl, combine the toasted oats, 1 cup sliced almonds, 1 cup chopped pecans1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes, and 1 cup ground flax seed and stir together.
5. Pour the syrup-vanilla-oil mixture over the dry ingredients and stir to evenly coat.
6. Spread the mixture back out on your baking sheet and place in the oven for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. 

Yum.


Lunch Tomorrow, Storing, & Extra Ingredients

 
Easy Homemade Granola is great for snacking, breakfast, or with Yogurt! | themillennialmenu.com
 

STORING - IMPORTANT: The granola should be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for longer shelf life and to prevent the oils from going rancid. While this will take a long time, it's always better to be safe. Your granola should last at least 2 months in the fridge if it is well-sealed - and likely even longer.

EXTRA INGREDIENTS - I keep all the extra ingredients on hand for making MORE GRANOLA. It's just that good! You can also try substituting coconut oil into your recipes, adding a handful of ground flax seed to your smoothies, cereal, or oatmeal, and a scoop of old fashioned oats to your favorite muffin or quick bread recipe.

Crispy Chicken Lettuce Wraps with Peanut Sauce Recipe

Crispy Chicken Lettuce Wraps with Peanut Sauce are a light and delicious meal to start the new year! | themillennialmenu.com

After all of my indulgent holiday meals (no regrets), I'm ready for something light and tasty. This recipe for Crispy Chicken Lettuce Wraps with Peanut Sauce is just what I needed this week to ease me into 2017. These wraps are packed with protein (thanks to chicken and quinoa!) and flavor (hello, homemade peanut sauce!) so they'll fill you up while keeping your taste buds happy. 

I love how the chicken strips crisp up in the skillet as the garlic, ginger, and sesame oil infuse into the chicken. Then it's another burst of flavor from the homemade peanut sauce. The secret ingredient? Water! I was doubtful about this, and was tempted to add more soy sauce or peanut butter when things just didn't taste right. But water really is the trick. It thins out the sauce, keeping it from getting too gloopy, without adding anymore salt or flavor to an already-intense array of flavors. We dipped everything in our leftover peanut sauce - dumplings, spring rolls, even just cut up veggies as a snack. I recommend making a double batch! Finally, you simply top the lettuce (your wrappers!) with quinoa, chicken, grated carrots, peanuts, and cilantro and drizzle the peanut sauce on top. Warning: dinner can get a little messy. Just go with it!



Crispy Chicken Lettuce Wraps With Peanut Sauce

Makes 2 servings
Other Recipes With These Ingredients: Chicken: Honey Mustard Pretzel Chicken // Quinoa: Freezer Friendly Mexican Stuffed Peppers // Peanut sauce: over soba noodles or as a dipping sauce for spring rolls or dumplings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

For the chicken & marinade:

  • 2 chicken breasts, sliced thin
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • Salt & pepper, to taste

For the wraps:

  • 4 leaves bibb/Boston/butter lettuce {See grocery guide for more info}
  • 2 carrots, peeled & grated 
  • 1/4 cup peanuts, crushed
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa (1/3 cup dry)
  • Cilantro, for garnish Optional

For the peanut sauce:* Note, this recipe is flexible. Add more or less of any of the ingredients to make a sauce to your liking.

  • 2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice Optional
  • Water, as needed




Dietary Substitutions:
Gluten Free: Make sure to use gluten free soy sauce.
Vegetarian: Skip the chicken, sub tofu.
Vegan-Friendly: See vegetarian solution. Dairy-Free Friendly

Directions:

Optional: If you want to marinate your chicken beforehand (for more flavor, but totally optional), start with Step 5 up to 24 hours in advance.

BEFORE YOU START: PREP THE VEGGIES
1. Tear 4 lettuce leaves off the head of bibb lettuce to use as your wrappers.
2. Grate your 2 carrots. I use a cheese grater for this! 
3. Crush 1/2 cup peanuts. I usually put them in a plastic bag and hit them with something hard (like an olive oil bottle or a metal spoon).

MARINATE & COOK THE CHICKEN, COOK QUINOA
4. To make the quinoa: turn one burner on high. Add 2/3 cup of water to the sauce pan. Add in 1/3 c. dry quinoa. Once the quinoa comes to a boil, turn down the heat, cover, and let the quinoa sit for 15 minutes. Read more about how to cook quinoa *PRODUCT PLUG: Quinoa takes 1 minute to cook in the Instant Pot, read about why you need one here While that's happening...
5. Slice your two chicken breasts into thin strips. Add 3 tablespoons olive oil, 2 cloves minced garlic,  and 1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger to a bowl and toss the raw chicken strips in the marinade. Season with salt & pepper and stir. Let sit, refrigerated, for up to 24 hours. If you don't have time to marinate it, that's okay. Just move on to step 2.
6. Preheat a pan to medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil to the pan. 
7. Once the oil has heated, add the chicken strips to the pan. The pan should be hot enough that the strips sizzle when they are added to the pan (so they can get crispy!). Stir the strips around so that they are evenly cooked. After the first minute or so, add 2 tablespoons of sesame oil to the pan and stir so the chicken is coated.
8. Continue to cook for 6-8 minutes, making sure the strips brown and get crispy as you cook - pressing down on the strips with a spatula might help you get the crisp on them. When it's done, the chicken should no longer be pink or translucent, but white and opaque. 

MAKE THE SAUCE
9. To make the peanut sauce, add 2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter, 1 teaspoon grated ginger, 1 teaspoon brown sugar, 1 clove minced garlic, 2 tablespoons soy sauce, 1 tablespoon lime juice to a bowl. Whisk the ingredients together until everything is dissolved together. You'll likely need to add water to thin the sauce out and dilute the strong flavors a bit. Add 1 tablespoon of water at a time, tasting as you go. Stop when it tastes the way you want it to! Note: If you have a blender, you can just add this all to the blender, it will be easier to just pulse everything together.

ASSEMBLE THE WRAPS
10.
Since you're making two servings, lay out two lettuce leaves on top of each other on one side of the plate and two on the other. These will be your outer wrappers. Spoon half of the quinoa onto one wrap and one half of the quinoa onto the other. Divide your grated carrot and peanuts between the wraps. Add the chicken on top, drizzle with peanut sauce, and garnish with cilantro. 

Yum.


Lunch Tomorrow, Storing, & Extra Ingredients

LUNCH TOMORROW - One of the best things about this recipe is it's easy to pack for lunch and still tastes delicious regardless of whether you heat it up or not. Make sure to store the peanut sauce on the side and add it when you're ready to eat. If you'd like to heat it up, bring the lettuce separate from the chicken and quinoa mixture.

STORING - Store the lettuce and peanut sauce separately in the fridge, and make your wraps and add the sauce right before you enjoy. With the cooked chicken, you should enjoy within 3-4 days.

EXTRA INGREDIENTS - Make a salad with extra lettuce to bring for lunch or as a side dish to another dinner this week. Use extra carrots as a snack with hummus or ranch dip. Toss extra peanut sauce with soba noodles for a delicious noodle dish with veggies. And use up the rest of the cilantro in my Five Minute Fish Tacos or Shortcut Shakshuka.


The 5 Most Popular Recipes of 2016 (and 2017 preview!)

Happy New Year's Eve, all! In honor of the end of 2016 (thank goodness, to be honest) I'm taking a look back at the 5 most popular recipes of 2016. In 6 months of blogging, these 5 recipes have been visited, shared, repinned, and liked the most. I can see why, these recipes are among my favorites too. 

In addition to sharing some of the best recipes from the year, I also want to give you a 2017 preview for what you can look forward to in the coming year from the Millennial Menu! In 2017, I'll continue to bring you delicious and easy recipes for millennial and non-millennial readers alike, plus tips and tricks for navigating your kitchen and the grocery store. In addition, I'll be doing more travel recommendations as part of the Millennial Menu On the Go series. I currently live in Boston so get ready for a long list of my favorite spots. I also plan on including restaurants I love in New York, D.C., and all my favorites from studying and traveling abroad during college. I'm extremely blessed to be traveling back to Rome in April, where I studied abroad in 2014, and can't wait to share my favorite places in the Eternal City with you (all on my shiny new DSLR camera that I didn't have when I studied abroad there!). Look forward to a huge Rome post coming at you sometime early May. 

I'm also officially opening things up for suggestions and feedback. If there's something you're looking for from the blog, please let me know. Whether it's a recipe that looks too complicated you'd like to see a millennial menu twist on, tips for how to cook a certain type of food or a challenge you need guidance on in the kitchen, or simply restaurant recommendations, reach out via my Contact page, social media (linked at the top right of the blog), or the comment section right below on this post. And now, on to the good stuff: the food! 

 
 

This Creamy Asiago Pasta with Sun-dried Tomatoes recipe is delicious and honestly, it's almost better leftover once the pasta has soaked up the creamy asiago sauce - meaning you can make a whole box of pasta at the beginning of the week and enjoy it more than once. Another bonus? It's on the table in 30 minutes.

 
 

Maybe it's because this picture looks so damn delicious, but this recipe for Butternut Squash & Sage Tortellini took off on Pinterest. I could eat the smooth, creamy butternut squash sauce with a spoon. Mmm.

 
 

Shakshuka is so in right now, so it's no surprise that this Shortcut Shakshuka recipe is one of my most popular. Tons of flavor and depth in under 10 minutes - as little as 7 if you're fast.

 
Super Simple Tomato soup is perfect for making big batches for the freezer. Tastes amazing with grilled cheese, too! | themillennialmenu.com
 

Nothing beats a warm, hearty bowl of this Super Simple Tomato Soup recipe. Everyone needs an easy to make, easy to freeze soup - this one's the winner. Enjoy it with a cheesy, gooey grilled cheese. Plus, tomatoes are a superfood!

 
Everyone loves ordering BBQ Chicken Pizza - now you can make it at home! 15 minutes and you're ready to eat. | themillennialmenu.com
 

Everyone loves BBQ Chicken pizza, and this recipe allows you to make your own Easy BBQ Chicken Pizza recipe at home, in 15 minutes. Use my favorite Stonefire Naan for your crust and check out my other pizza recipes!

happy-2017

Make Cooking for Yourself Your New Years Resolution

six-new-years-resolutions

'Tis the season for New Years Resolutions, and the Millennial Menu is here to help you out. As we ring in the New Year, it's a great time to re-evaluate lifestyle choices and figure out ways to make yourself feel happier and healthier in the new year. Cooking more food at home is a simple way to boost your mood, your health, and your budget. Plus, it's why this blog exists! 

Now is the perfect time to resolve to make one small change about the way you approach food in your life. Maybe you want to eat out a little bit less, or spend less money when you go to the grocery store. The Millennial Menu exists to encourage people to enjoy delicious, homemade food for a reasonable price. I'll be here throughout the year with a continuous stream of tasty, easy recipes and tips and tricks for navigating your grocery store and your kitchen to help you keep up with whatever your resolution is. Check out my suggestions for Millennial Menu-approved resolutions below and tips for fulfilling them. My own blog-related resolution this year is to improve my food photography, which will hopefully help to show you how delicious I know my recipes taste. Lucky you!

 
make-a-grocery-list
 

Avoid going to the grocery store without a list/plan. It's actually impossible for me to go to the grocery store and avoid throwing something in my cart that catches my eye. Suddenly I'm at the checkout counter and I've added $20 to my bill because something was on sale or looked good. We all fall victim to temptation, but walking into the store like a man on a mission will help you to minimize those unplanned impulse buys and save money. To help you with this, check out the Paprika app that I use religiously and profile in my Millennial Cooking Hack: Paprika post. Make your grocery list and bring it with you on your phone to stick to just the things you really need this week. 

Resolution Suggestions: Always make a list before going to the store // Only buy what's on the list // Buy no more than 3 things that aren't on your list each trip to the grocery store.

 
plan-your-meals
 

Meal planning can sound like a drag, but putting the time in before your week even starts will ensure that your week goes smoother, is healthier, and costs you less. Think about what you might want to eat for the week and buy those ingredients ahead of time, so there's never a question of what you're having for dinner (or the temptation to order takeout instead because you don't have anything in your fridge). It will save you the time of having to run out to the grocery store to make something or because you forgot one item that you didn't plan ahead for. Even bigger, it will save you money on your takeout tab or the restaurant bill you'd have to pay otherwise. Start small, like committing to planning 2 or 3 meals a week at home. My favorite meal planning app is also the same app I use for my grocery list, and I wrote a whole post about it at my Millennial Cooking Hack: Paprika. It's your one-stop shop app for anything food related.

 Resolution Suggestions: Plan 3 meals a week // Plan all weeknight dinners // Plan lunch for the week

 
bring-lunch
 

Nothing hurts your wallet more than always buying your lunch out. Many folks are not morning people, however, and are not in the mood or state to pack a gourmet lunch before work every morning. It's easy to resort to going to the cafeteria or getting takeout or going out to lunch, but even $5 a day adds up to hundreds of dollars a year. Can you think of something you'd like to buy or do with hundreds of dollars, because I can! Bringing lunch can be easy, whether you like sandwiches, salads, or leftovers. Make bringing lunch possible by purchasing foods for lunch at the grocery store - deli meat, hummus and pretzels, fresh fruit, etc. that you can mix and match throughout the week. I make one big batch of lunch entrees (like soup, or a grain bowl, or pasta) to have every day of the week and I know my lunch is waiting for me each morning before I leave for work. Packing your lunch the night before can help too, and having things ready in the fridge to throw together in the morning - the sandwich is packed, the apple is ready, and your hummus is in a Tupperware. Spending 5-10 minutes the night before to make sure you have fuel for your day will make you a very happy camper when the hunger pains hit. 

Resolution Suggestions: Bring lunch 2x a week // Bring lunch every day for a month // Only eat out or take-out lunch 3x a month // Bring lunch 4/5 days this week // Set a budget for eating out at lunch per month and don't go over it - bring your lunch the other days

 
eat-breakfast
 

 This is a health one - breakfast is the most important meal of the day for so many reasons. Breakfast gives you energy, kickstarts your metabolism, helps you focus, and can even help you lose weight. Even if it's just something small, eating breakfast can make a big difference in your day. Try a power bar on the go, instant oatmeal, Greek yogurt, or a healthy cereal. I always have a smoothie and oatmeal that I prep at the beginning of the week or the night before, meaning my breakfast takes me 30 seconds to prepare and about 3 minutes to eat. 

Resolution Suggestions: Eat breakfast before work everyday // Buy easy breakfasts on the go and eat one on the way to work

 
shop-the-sales
 

Make a meal based on what's on sale. Groceries can be expensive, but you really can find good deals if you're looking. To save money, pay attention to the price of what you're buying. Buying store brand all the time or only things in the middle of the shelves right in your line of sight will mean you're paying more. Look for lower-priced items at the top or bottom of the grocery store shelves and other good deals. Pay attention to the unit price, instead of just the price. I always check the weekly flyer that lists the sales at Stop & Shop that week before making my grocery list. If I see pork chops are on sale, I'll put them on my list to make my Cider & Sage Pork Chops recipe. It helps me to get the most bang for my buck and be conscious about why I'm choosing what I'm eating that week. 

Resolution Suggestions: Only buy meat when it's on sale and freeze it until you need it (check out my FoodSaver post for tips on that!) // Try one store brand item a week // Pay attention to the weekly flyers that list the sales and plan at least 1 meal based on what's on sale that week // Use at least one coupon per trip to the store 

 
cook-at-home
 

Cook a few dinners a week at home. 1, 2, 3, 4 - whatever makes sense for you. Eating out is becoming more popular, and sometimes to eat out, you don't even have to go out. You can get virtually anything you want delivered to your door with the abundance of meal delivery options like Seamless. Americans spend more money on restaurants than groceries, and millennials spend 44% of their food dollars eating out. These statistics are why this blog exists, and why I'm passionate about helping people eat more delicious food at home, that they cook themselves. Not only will it save you money, it's healthier for you, too. I could write a book on the value of cooking for yourself (hey, maybe someday I will, with my recipes included!) but trust me, you'll feel better in so many ways: your wallet, your tummy, and you'll feel proud of yourself! 

Resolution Suggestions: Cook 1 meal a week at home, on the weekends. Cook 2 weeknight meals at home. Cook one dish at the beginning of the week for lunch or a few dinners. Learn to like leftovers.


Start the new year off right by subscribing to the Millennial Menu to get all the best recipes and tips straight to your inbox the moment they're posted.

Happy 2017!


Bar Basics: Stocking Your Liquor Cabinet

Knowing how to stock a basic bar will be good for your wallet AND impress your friends! | themillennialmenu.com

Knowing how to make solid drinks at home will save you tons of money and impress your friends and family. Today's post is brought to you by my boyfriend Matt, who is the true cocktail connoisseur in our relationship. We've organized this post into three sections: setting up your basic bar, branching out your liquor supply, and tools & equipment. We are strong believers in quality over quantity (when appropriate) and have established some of our favorite brands of liquor. Try brands out in smaller doses, see if you like them, and you too will soon buy a 1.75 L bottle of Bombay Sapphire.  I've been shocked at how delicious mixed drinks can taste at home - especially compared to whatever coke & rum cocktail was the pregame drink of choice in college. In terms of cost, we really believe it's worth it to spend a bit more on cocktails and ingredients that will make you want to have a drink at home before heading out for the night or even instead of. Perhaps most importantly, having a well stocked bar is a quick way to impress friends and family with your good taste! 

If your favorite spirit is missing, feel free to add it to your own personal list - you know what you like and don't like. This is just our recommendation for what to actually purchase if you want to be able to make mixed drinks and appeal to a wide range of guests. We were surprised when we really sat down and thought about what the basics of a wide range of drinks were, but we've been so happy with what we have stocked in our apartment and still have been able to branch out and add fun spirits that we enjoy having around as well. 


Setting Up Your Basic Bar

Gin

Gin is the (surprising) quintessential cocktail spirit and is a staple of a home bar. Did you know that gin is in more classic cocktails than any other spirit? A lot of people have a knee-jerk reaction when they hear the word gin, with overly pine-y flavors recalling bathtub concoctions of the Prohibition era. But gin can be so much more than this with a different variety for every preference. Gin is essentially flavored vodka, infused with juniper and a variety of other botanicals like rose or citrus peel depending on the distiller. Bombay Sapphire and New Amsterdam are good brands to start off because of their inoffensive flavor. But, you can branch out to brands like Tanqueray or Junipero, with their juniper-heavy flavors, and Hendricks with its unique rose petal and cucumber infusion. Our favorite is Bombay Sapphire. 

What to make: Gin is the star of a solid gin and tonic. It's also used in martinis, Tom Collins (essentially, alcoholic lemonade), a French 75, gin gimlet, and many other cocktails.

Whiskey

Whiskey is the classic American liquor. Whiskey has been stereotyped as a masculine choice, but it is so versatile and can be used in so many different ways that there is a different whiskey cocktail for everyone out there. There are several different styles of whiskey, including bourbon, rye, and scotch. To start off, we would recommend a rye because it works better in cocktails. Where bourbon is generally sweeter and richer, ryes are drier and contain more spice. This stands out nicely when mixed with other cocktail ingredients. Good entry-level brands include Rittenhouse and Bulleit Ryes.

What to make: Whiskey cocktails include Old Fashioneds, Manhattans, Whiskey sours, Mint juleps, Irish coffee, and many more.

Bitters

Bitters are the equivalent of salt and pepper for cocktails. They add depth and new dimensions to your drinks. Start with a small bottle of Angostura—you will only ever use a few drops per drink, so this will last you a while.

What to make: Old Fashioned, Manhattan, Negroni, Pisco Sour

Citrus

Fresh lemon and lime juice is extremely important to making a good cocktail. Citrus just doesn’t last that long once it’s been squeezed, so buying and squeezing your lemons and limes rather than using the bottled stuff will make a big difference in the final taste of your drink. We usually buy at least 2 lemons and 2 limes every week at the grocery store - we end up using them by the time they go bad, either in food or in our cocktails! They can really take a drink to the next level and are worth the small risk of 50 cents lost if you forget to use one before it goes bad. But if your bar is stocked like we recommend, we doubt that will happen. 

What to make: Lime: Mojitos, Moscow Mule, Margarita, Gin & Tonic // Lemon: Whiskey Sour, Tom Collins

Simple Syrup

Nearly all cocktails require some sort of sweetener in the recipe (which most people like), with most calling for simple syrup. Don’t waste your money buying this from the grocery store as it’s incredibly easy to make. Just heat up equal parts of granulated sugar and hot water on the stovetop and stir until all the sugar dissolves.  This should be stored in the fridge and can last for about a month. We store ours in a bottle that's meant to be used for homemade salad dressing - but alas, we prefer cocktails to salad.

What to make: Almost anything, but particularly a Tom Collins, a Whiskey Sour, an Old Fashioned

Club Soda

Club Soda is the base of many cocktails and is the best adult mixer you could ever keep stocked in your cabinet. It can be hard to finish a whole bottle (for some people, maybe not for others) so I've taken to buying the mini glass club soda bottles that come in 6 packs in the soda aisle at the grocery store. The premium I pay on packaging versus buying a liter at a time is worth it because we usually only make two drinks at a time. Make sure to buy the bottles rather than the cans, because if you're only making one, you can seal it back up and use it in a few days before it goes flat. If you're a gin & tonic drinker like me, it's also a good idea to always have some tonic water on hand as well. It comes in the same mini-6 packs.

What to make: Anything, but try a Tom Collins! 

Tools and Equipment

 
The Basic tools and Equipment you need for a home bar will set you up for entertaining success. | themillennialmenu.com
 

Shaker

As the name implies, this is a necessity for any shaken drink. As a rule of thumb, any drink containing non-clear liquids—citrus, egg white, etc.—should be shaken. There are two distinct styles of shakers, the cobbler and the Boston shaker. The cobbler is the three piece shaker with a built in strainer that you often get in a bar set, whereas the Boston is the two piece tins that you see at every bar, ever. There is a reason the pros only use Boston shakers—when the cobbler shaker gets cold from the ice, the pieces can be nearly impossible to get apart, trapping your drink inside. Boston shakers are much easier to use and clean. One thing to note, however, is some shakers come with two tins, whereas some come with one and a pint glass. We would stay away from the sets that use the glass, as this has the potential of shattering when it’s in your hands. Go for this one.

Mixing Glass

Again, as the name implies, this is for mixed cocktails. A lot of times at bars you will see them use fancy looking glass beakers called “yarai” glasses. These are nice to have, but are expensive and not necessary. Save some space (and money) and just use the bottom tin of your shaker.

Strainer

After mixing or shaking your drink, you need to strain out the ice cubes. A Hawthorne strainer will fit right on top of your tin or mixing glass and do just this. You might also see julep strainers, which look like giant spoons with holes in them. These are traditionally used for stirred drinks, but are not necessary to have. A Hawthorne strainer will do the trick and is simpler to use - less spillage.

Bar Spoon

Used to mix cocktails, this is just a really long skinny spoon. It’s not a need to have, but it does make mixing drinks much easier than with a normal spoon. We use ours all the time for drinks like a Tom Collins or gin & tonic. Plus, it looks pretty impressive.

Jiggers

Jiggers help you measure precise amounts of liquid to make the perfect drink. It's essentially the grown up version of a shot glass, because you're adding more to your drink than just a shot of alcohol straight into your mouth - usually some citrus juice, or club soda...you get our point. We are fans of the Oxo mini angled measuring cup. We also use it when cooking too!

All set up and wondering where to start?

Check out The Craft of the Cocktail for a classic guide to everything shaken and stirred.

Subscribe to the blog for future posts about how to expand your bar and how to make your favorite cocktails at home.


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