So you want to supply your home bar? Excellent! It’s easier and cheaper than you think, provided you live in NYC.
The go-to area for bar supplies, and really any restaurant equipment, is that long strip of Bowery between Hester and Houston. Nearly every other storefront is selling lights or bar stools or slicers or random plumbing that you can’t really identify.
It’s easy to get lots among all the choices, and the seediness can be intimidating, so I’ve put together a guide of some of the better places for getting your jiggers and shakers, coupes and highballs, squeezers and strainers. It all starts at Sang Kung Rest. Equipment Co. located at 110 Bowery between Grand and Hester.
Sang Kung – Glasses, Glasses, Glasses!
This is one of the friendlier restaurant supply stores, not too cramped and with all the good stuff up front. Just walk in and turn immediately to the right aisle where all the glasses are on display.
Spend a couple minutes taking it all in because there are a LOT of choices. You can go a little bit nuts getting everything from flutes to old fashioneds to cordials to martinis. If you just want to get the standard coupes that you see at just about every cocktail bar these days, head for the Libbey 3773.
This is a 5.5oz glass, which is a little big for some cocktails but more versatile than the 4.5′s (Libbey 3777). They’re a bit sturdier than the smaller ones and harder to spill, so I generally stick with these. At just over $3 / glass, this is about as cheap as you’ll find in NYC. Other stores typically have them for between $4 and $6, so stock up!
Next grab some highball glasses for all the fizzes and bucks you’ll be making as the weather warms up. All you’re looking for here is a 10 oz, straight sided, tall glass. Most tumblers you have in your kitchen cabinet are going to be 12-16oz, which is too big for most tall drinks.
There are a lot of different options here, so pick one you like in your price range. The size/price are on stuck to the bottom; I like the 10z Libbey that’s only $23 / dozen.
When you’ve picked out the glasses you want, bring them up to the cash register and tell them how many you want. The prices are listed by the dozen and by the case, but you can buy them in 4′s or 6′s or however many you want. They’ll write down the item #’s and run back to grab them for you. (Update: they’ve started charging extra for ‘loosies’, getting 6 coupes will only save you $10 over a full dozen)
One great thing about this place is that they’ll let you look at all the glasses before they wrap them up so you can make sure they aren’t chipped or warped. For the coupes, I recommend just circling your finger around the rim to quickly check for bumps.
JCC Restaurant Supplies – It’s raining dollar jiggers
JCC is a small one just off the Bowery at 354 Broome St. They’re a touch less personable here than at Sang Kung and didn’t want me taking pictures, so I’ve only got one of the outside. The main reason to go here is jiggers. They have just about every size: 2ozx1oz, 1.5ozx1oz, 1.5ozx0.75oz, 1ozx0.5oz and 0.75ozx0.5oz. At only a dollar each, you can afford to grab as many as you want.
After this, you may want to take a break for lunch. Go across the street to Saigon Vietnamese Sandwich Inc (formerly Banh Mi So #1) and get a $4 torpedo of spicy pork.
Win Restaurant Supplies, Inc. – OMG, they have everything!
Ok, not quite everything, but close to it. Nearly every piece of stamped metal you seen in a bar is made by Winco, which this place’s basically an outlet for. Their stuff isn’t fancy, but it works and it’s cheap.
Walk past the guy on the first floor giving you dirty looks (just because I have a camera doesn’t make me a tourist, thanks) and head upstairs.
Keep going straight into the first aisle, but prepare to lose your shit. They have shakers, strainers, muddlers, jiggers, barspoons, ice picks, and juicers and all of it is ridiculously cheap. Well, except for the jiggers. They’re double what they cost at JCC!
This place is heaven, and if you have time try and wander through all the aisles. They have odd little gems everywhere that, if you’re like me, you won’t be able to pass up. I mean, they’ve got Tiki mugs for $3.50! I spend that much on coffee!
Between these three places, you can pretty much cover all your basic home bar needs. If you’re willing to spend just a little more cash though, it’s worth it to head over to Amor y Amargo for some nicer odds and ends.
Amor y Amargo – Drink while you shop
The hours are still in flux so it’s a good idea to check their website or give them a call to see when they’ll be open. It’s also very very small, so get their early and spend the afternoon drinking and nerding out with the people who make Bittermens.
The selection of barware here is small, but it’s all great.
The shakers here are a must have. They cost twice as much as what you’d get at Win, but are so much better. Unlike the standard issue Winco’s, the small tins here have a wider mouth so they sit much higher up.
The mixing spoons here are also a steal starting at $8. The omnipresent red-tipped Winco spoons will work, I guess, but the marginal increase in coolness is worth the $4.
And while you’re here, why not get some bitters too? They have all of the regular Bittermens line for cheaper than places like The Meadow (still LOVE their salt), and an Experimental line of new bitters in the making.
One last thing: virtually every supply store on or about the Bowery closes at 6P and won’t open at all on Sunday. Update: Except for the one on Bowery and Houston, as noted by Kathryn Yu
Places mentioned here