What you’ll need to stock a non-alcoholic bar at home, according to an expert mixologist

No bar is complete without glassware. Picture: Pexels/Zain Ali

No bar is complete without glassware. Picture: Pexels/Zain Ali

Published Feb 23, 2023


As more people embrace sobriety, either permanently or as part of sobriety challenges like Dry January or Sober October, many are also re-envisioning their at-home bar.

Gone are the days of being confined to beer, wine, and spirits as we knew them. A more inclusive bar, including delicious non-alcoholic options, can empower you on your sobriety or moderation journey, or provide exciting options for friends and family who aren’t drinking for whatever reason.

Below, mixologist and Lyre’s South Africa brand ambassador Joe Mthimkhulu aka Barman Joe offers insight into how to build an inclusive at-home bar and create some of the best alcohol-free cocktails out there.

According to Mthimkhulu, the sober curious movement is driven by an increased need to moderate alcohol consumption and a thirst for interesting drinking experiences for drinkers and non-drinkers alike.

Gone are the days of being confined to beer, wine, and spirits as we knew them. Picture: Pexels/Anete Lusina

“There have always been people who choose not to drink or who want low alcoholic drinks but with the surge in popularity of non-alcoholic offerings, there are so many options available that you can have a drink that tastes just as good as its alcoholic counterpart.

“Much like a proper home bar stocked with a variety of alcohol, all you need for a great alcohol-free home bar is a combination of a range of non-alcoholic products, some nifty tools, a little experimentation, and a lot of imagination,” he says.

Mthimkhulu says that non-alcoholic cocktails are a combination of non-alcoholic spirits, fruits, bitters, and herbs.

“You’re only limited by your imagination. Crafting no or low-alcohol cocktails at home is less about attempting to make the perfect classics and more about creating any drink using flavours you love.

“If you’re wanting to serve up something a little more sophisticated than sugary, fizzy mocktail options, there are three main components you need to get you started; mixers, glassware, and non-alcoholic spirits.

“Think of outfitting a non-alcoholic bar just like you would stock up a full-proof set-up. Keep a few standards on hand for regular consumption, and incorporate some mixers, flavour enhancers, and garnishes to add new flair to old favourites,“ he says.

Here’s what you need to create your favourite tipples in style at home, with this list of essential non-alcoholic bar items.

An all-one-bar set

An all-one-bar set is a great starter for your bar, these will include an ice bucket, shaker, tool holder with a mixing spoon, strainer, tot pourer, and for presentation, a silver tray.

No bar is complete without glassware. Picture: Pexels/Zain Ali


Glassware is essential, no bar is complete without glassware. Some of the most basic ones to start off with are margarita glasses, wine glasses; large, stemmed, or stemless, martini glasses, high-ball glasses, and old-fashioned glasses. You can even thrift these styles of glasses and find some great antique-looking ones.

Muddler and pitcher

Having a good muddler in your arsenal will help you when a recipe calls for you to smash or muddle fruits like berries and citrus, or leaves like basil and mint. A pitcher is a good idea if you’re planning to mix up a big batch of a specific drink, include a long stir stick to help with mixing but to also look like a pro.

Adding flavour

Varieties of shrubs or fondly known as drinking cordials are highly concentrated syrups and mixed with a soda or tonic water and bitters are an easy way to add more depth and flavour to cocktails.

Most bitters are not alcohol-free so if you want to keep your drink free from booze it’s important to look for glycerine-based bitters. Store-bought concentrates can add a spicy kick, you only need a few drops because they can be sugary.

Fresh fruit and herbs are important to be muddled in a cocktail or as a garnish Picture: Pexels/Antoni Shkraba

Mixers, fruits, and herbs

Don’t forget the backbone of any non-alcoholic cocktail – soda water or sparkling spring water and include some not-so-basic mixers on-hand to create an alcohol-free cocktail at home, everything from aloe-vera juices to tonic waters, fruit juices like grapefruit, pomegranate, lemon and cranberry can add some flair.

Fresh fruit and herbs on hand are important either to be muddled in a cocktail or as a garnish – you can get creative here so let your imagination run wild and wow your guests like a pro mixologist.

Staying spirited

Last but not least, you can’t have a booze-free bar without a range of non-alcoholic spirits.