It used to be that the mark of a well-appointed home was its bar, stocked with a shiny cocktail shaker or two, an ice bucket glistening with condensation, and an array of hi-ball and martini glasses that would make a restaurant-supply salesman weep with joy. Happily, that same-old-used-to-be is still with us, and more popular than ever, as millions are rediscovering the sublime pleasures of sipping a frosty cocktail, prepared from scratch, in the comfort of their homes.

The key ingredients of a home bar are those aforementioned shakers, that bucket, and the glasses, as well as bar tools such as shot glasses or jiggers, stirrers or bar spoons, strainers, ice tongs, corkscrews, bottle openers, a small cutting board, a paring knife, and swizzle sticks (glass or plastic). Paper umbrellas can add a tropical touch to certain types of rum-based drinks, but are generally looked upon with disdain by the bourbon- or scotch-only crowds.

Also essential (if anything having to do with drinking alcohol for recreational purposes can be described as “essential”) is the bar itself. It does not have to be a stand-alone model, although molded-plywood bars shaped like the prows of small yachts and varnished bamboo bars in Tiki themes have been going in and out of style since the 1950s. The important thing is that one devote at least a portion of one’s home to the mixing of drinks—pushing aside your children’s lunch boxes or bowls of fresh fruit to make way for martinis simply will not do.

Shakers take two basic forms—those with two parts and those with more. The simplest two-piece cocktail shaker is the Boston shaker, which consists of a standard pint glass and a slighter larger stainless-steel vessel of roughly the same shape, resembling a canister a soda jerk might insert into a milkshake machine. Typically, the ingredients, including ice, are poured and scooped into the metal vessel, which is then covered by the glass. Importantly, the glass is always positioned at an angle to create a seal and make it easy to separate the two halves, and while the whole apparatus is designed to be shaken briskly, a good bartender knows not to do so endlessly, lest the ice melt too much and dilute the drink. Because Boston shakers lack a strainer, the drink must be strained by hand when it is poured from the metal container into an awaiting, chilled glass.

The cobbler shaker takes its name from an English mixed drink that frankly sounds dreadful (sherry, lemon juice, sugar) and features a built-in strainer as well as a cap—depending on its size, the cap can also be used to measure shots. Some Cobbler-style shakers are made entirely of metal, be it stainless steel, aluminum, chrome, or silverplate, while others feature a small, metal, domed lid that’s pierced by a narrow spout, with a glass body below. Popular during the Depression, the glass parts of these shakers in various colors and designs (from pink elephants to multicolored stripes) were manufactured by Hazel Atlas, Imperial, and Heisey, among others.

Metal shakers that are tall and cylindrical are often called skyscrapers, although tall shakers with glass bases are also known by this term. Other cocktail shakers resemble lighthouses, zeppelins balanced on their tail fins, golf bags, and a woman’s calf, ankle, and foot strapped to a high-heel base.

Some of the most beautiful shakers were designed during the Art Deco era. In 1935, Danish modern designer Folke Arstrom re-imagined the cocktail shaker as a streamlined Thermos in nickel- and silver-plated brass. A couple of years later, in 1937, industrial designer Norman Bel Geddes conceived his chrome-plated “Manhattan” cocktail set for Revere—that alcohol accessory is now in the collection of the Brooklyn Museum, among other institutions. And in the 1950s, Mid-Century Modern designer Jens Quistgaard, working for the popular housewares firm Dansk, brought his modernist Scandinavian eye to the lowly ice bucket, fashioning a handled vessel of plastic-lined teak in a sophisticated update of Japanese ceramics from the 18th and 19th centuries.

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Feeding America

Feeding America

This archive of 76 influential American cookbooks from the late 1700s to early 1900s, assembled by the Michigan St… [read review or visit site]

Tupper Diva

Tupper Diva

Kristian McManus’ fresh, airtight collection of Tupperware catalogs and related ephemera from the 1950s and 6… [read review or visit site]

Most watched eBay auctions    

Antique Sterling Solid Silver Champagne Lion's Head Ice Bucket Jar Vase MarkingsCollection Of Antique & Vintage Crystal / Glass Decanters Inc Wheel Cut FrostedArt Deco Cut Crystal & Silver Cocktail Shaker C1930s EnglandVintage Antique Cocktail Recipes Bar Stand Bellhop Plastic 3.5" TallAntique Meriden Co Silver Plate Cocktail Shaker Pat 1927Antique Edwardian Era Cobalt Blue Silver Deposit Glass Decanter Cordial Set SksVintage Sterling Silver Shot Glass Louisianians 1975 Mardi Gras Souvenir JiggerVintage Lenox Art Deco Style Chrome Plated Butler Cocktail ShakerVintage Mid Century Modern Mexican Sterling Silver Overlay Glass Decanter Sks NrVintage (5) Pennsylvania Railroad Cocktail Glasses Cool & Rare Mid-century Georges Briard Set Of 8 Name Your Poison Barware GlassesRare Vintage Georges Briard "name Your Poison" Cocktail Glass Set 8Syroco Clown Cork ScrewUndertow Tiki Bar Cannon Mug By Tiki Diablo Sold OutWaterford Crystal Lismore 12 Oz Double Old Fashioned Tumblers Vintage Set Of 6Veuve Clicquot Lamp/ice BucketRare Art Deco William Suckling Cocktail Shaker Harrods London, 1930s SilverplatePurple Power Kansas State Univ Mascot Willie The Wildcat 1970 Decanter BottleVtg Leather Loyal Ny Fire Ice Bucket Wood Lid Brigade Papeete 13"h, 8" Diameter6 Vintage Orvis Ned Smith Game Birds Gold Rimmed Loop Optic 8 1/2" Wine Glasses Viking Ship Corkscrew1957 Masonic Cruise Memento--silver Plated--mintVintage Don Julio 1942 Wood Coffin Box Anejo Barware Tequila Wood Case-two BoxesWaterford Crystal Lismore 5 Oz. 3 1/2" Tumblers Vintage Set Of 6 Glasses IrelandVintage Brass Retro Pineapple Ice Bucket Original 1960s Model 9.5" (14cm) HighRed Top Rye Shot Glass, Extremely Rare! Preprohibition Era! Glass Beaded EtchedVintage Silver Plate Wine Funnel Strainer Barware Cocktail 2 PiecesImperial Glass Gold Shoji Glasses, Rocks, CocktailsSet Of 3 Antique Early 20thc Cut & Polished Crystal Liquor Decanter Bottles NrVintage Quality Rosewood Inlaid Burl Wood Veneered Mid-century Ice Bucket NrShot Glass Collection Lot Of 48 Assorted Including States Novelty Calverts YukonVintage Art Deco Chrome Zeppelin Cocktail ShakerWhiskey Decanter Billy The Kid MccormickVintage Brass Art Deco Park Sherman Revolving Pump Liquor Decanter Dispenser6 Rubber Rail Bar Mats Buffalo Tr Yuengling 2gingers Jagermeister Goslings StolVintage Mid-century Town Crier's Bell Martini Cocktail Shaker & Cup Set BarwareSpencer Gifts Sip And Strip 4 Glass SetVintage Ceramic Bottle Stopper/pourer Set (6) Germany W/standLeo Meiersdorff Jazz Art Drinking Glasses Set Of 4 1982 Ljungberg CollectionVtg Mid Century Culver Owl 22k Gold Tall Highball Glass Barware Lot Of 8 GlassesVintage Farber Bros Art Deco Cocktail Shaker Krome Kraft Brown Bakelite Chrome Vintage Red Dragon Cocktail GlassesLassie Memorabilia GlassVintage 3 Piece 9" Crystal Decanter Set Etched Glass (scotch Rye Blank)Vtg Farber Bros Krome Kraft Hammered Metal Insulated Ice Bucket Chrome W/tongsMilagro Tequila Bar Set W/25 Double Shot Glasses, Shaker, Lime Squeeze, Pads NibBrugal Rum Collection 11rock Glasses -heavy Base Old Fashioned Whiskey Glasses Vintage Delas Freres Champagne Ice Bucket - Made In FranceSilver Plate Bar Utensil Set By Wallace SilversmithsVintage Hamm's Bear~1972~ceramic Beer Bear Decanter~mint~no ReserveRosenthal Versace Medusa Head Frosted Crystal Decanter Bottle Wine Stopper.Michter's Knights Of Columbus Decanter (1980) Empty And Complete!!!(6) Mid Century,vintage Gilded Whisky Glass Set Culver 22kt Gold Low BallSilver Elvis Decanter 25th Silver AnniversaryVintage 40's, 50's Federal Tiki Cocktail Glasses (excellent) Full Set Of Six (6) Vintage Culver Trivial Pursuit GlassesLot - 5 Bar Spill Mats (gin, Vodka, Rum, Tequila) And 1 Condiment Caddy - Cool!4 Vintage Original Hlc Medium Green Fiesta Fiestaware Tumblers1950s Vintage Set 6 Venice Italy Venetian Drinking Water Bar Glasses Blue SilverVintage Adult Novelty Sip N Strip Fantasy Glasses Risque Drinking Glass1968 Mercedes-benz Musical Decanter Perfect