Stocking a home bar requires striking a perfect balance: you don’t need one of everything, but it is important to have the basics in order to satisfy most guests’ drink preferences.
With a little foresight and some planning, you can avoid getting caught in a home bar-related jam. Just don’t forget to replace the bottle when it runs dry!
Step one: you need somewhere to store all this stuff. Your home bar can be anything from a full-sized bar in your man cave (lucky you) to a designated shelf in the kitchen. In the middle of this range, you might choose to pick up a sharp looking bar cart or an antique cabinet to keep everything together.
The Right Alcohol
Generally speaking, you’ll want to stock your bar with at least one good quality bottle of each of the following: whiskey, bourbon, gin, vodka, rum, tequila, and vermouth.
Each person will have their own brand preferences—you could stick to the classics, or you could mix it up by seeking out the products of craft distilleries. Stick to the tried and true if you want a consistent, predictable product. Check out something new if you want to add a little character to your home bar.
Your Signature Bottle
You know yourself—and the tastes of your guests—best. Always keep one bottle on hand for a little something special to serve later in the evening. Maybe it’s something you picked up on a trip abroad. Maybe it’s that special stuff you can only find in that one shop two towns over. When it comes to your home bar, there’s always room to be a little playful.
Stock Up on Glassware
Arguably, the factor that distinguishes a home bar from just mixing a drink in the kitchen is having the appropriate glassware. Yes, it’s a lot of glasses, but if you pick up some quality glassware, they’ll look great on display.
At minimum, you’ll want crystal or glass wine glasses, champagne flutes, martini glasses, highball glasses, and old fashioned glasses. Depending on what style you’re going for, you can buy them in sets, or you can pick up one glass at a time for an edgier, customized feel.
Get the Tools
The right tools will mean the difference between mixing a mediocre drink and one that is off the charts. Start with the utensils: a stirring spoon and a paring knife are two must-haves. You’ll also want to grab a jigger to keep your measurements precise. Don’t forget a mixing glass and a shaker to satisfy both the stirrers and the shakers. Finally, a strainer will keep your concoctions free of pulp and seeds.
In addition to the above, you’ll want to get a few extra things on hand. Fresh citrus—limes and lemons—is a must. Don’t even think about using pre-squeezed juice! Keep some standards mixers on hand for those who preferred mixed drinks, including juice, sodas, bitters, and simple syrup. Always keep some ice on stock—you don’t want to get stuck without it!