6 Steps to Stocking the Perfect Home Bar

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Every man needs a home bar stocked with the basics so he can entertain guests, as well as treat himself to a properly mixed drink. And while starting a home bar may seem daunting, but when your lady friend (or your boss) comes over and you can mindfully craft a cocktail of their choosing, you’ll surely be glad you knew what to do.

Below are the 6 basic guidelines to get your home bar up and running.

6 Steps to Stocking the Perfect Home Bar:

1. What Alcohols You Will Need:

Use your own personal taste and take into account your own needs when making your final decision. While you’ll use your home bar for entertaining, don’t forget that a home bar’s main customer is you.

  • Whiskey: A good whiskey can soothe any man’s soul and is necessary when musing over deep, manly thoughts that only a strong liquor can assuage. For a solid bar, you’ll want to have both bourbon and rye whiskey in your arsenal. A scotch whiskey wouldn’t be too bad to keep around, either.
  • Vodka: The ultimate fail-safe for any home bar is at least one good vodka. If your vodka consumption is limited to the cocktail, stick to a smooth, flavorless, high-quality variety. If you do enjoy vodka on its own … go ahead and venture into flavor-infused frills for shots and whatnot.
  • Gin: It’s one of the base spirits for many popular cocktails, so definitely have plenty on hand. If you’re looking to keep it simple, stick to a nice dry gin for your cocktail needs. If you’re a die-hard fan of gin, you can kick it up a notch. It’s all up to you.
  • Tequila: A must-have liquor for those evenings when nothing else will quench your thirst but a good old fashioned margarita. What type of tequila you stock depends on what you plan on using it for. Gold tequila is usually the cheaper type and is a great pick if you plan on using your tequila for mixed drinks. If you’d like to take your tequila straight up, you’ll want to go with this agave-based drink in its purest form — silver tequila.
  • Rum: This tasty liquor from the Caribbean is distilled from molasses. Dark rums are best for punches. Light rums are for mixing cocktails.
  • Other: These aren’t necessarily essentials, but it’s good to add a few extras to your bar, depending on what you like. If you’re a wine drinker, have a good white and red, at the least, in your home bar. If you enjoy a nice brew, beer is always welcome to the party. It’s also nice to offer a variety of craft sodas for your guests who are on the wagon for whatever reason. A good host is thoughtful towards all his guests.

2. Garnishes:

Garnishes add a bit of decorative panache to your drink. So the type of garnish you add depends on the drink.

  • Cocktail olives
  • Cocktail onions
  • Horseradish
  • Limes
  • Lemons
  • Tabasco sauce
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Sugar
  • Ice
  • Toothpicks
  • Cocktail onions, olives, and others (as needed)

3. Mixers:

What mixers you decide to stock depends on the cocktails you want to make. The basics include:

  • Club soda
  • Tonic water
  • Vermouth
  • Cola
  • Sprite or 7-up
  • Ginger ale / ginger beer
  • Orange juice
  • Cranberry juice
  • Tomato juice
  • Pineapple juice
  • Bitters (technically bitters isn’t a mixer — it’s used in splashes to add a bit of flavor to your drinks)
  • Simple syrup
  • Triple sec
  • Cointreau

4. Glassware:

Glassware for cocktails can get pretty specific, but if you just want to simply stick to the basics, at the very least have the following glassware on hand so you’ll be ready for most anything.

  • Martini glasses
  • Rocks glasses
  • Highball (tall) glasses
  • Red and white wine glasses
  • Assorted beer mugs and pints

5. Tools and Accessories:

While you don’t need anything too fancy, but the following tools should certainly suffice.

  • Shaker: Most proper drinks are shaken or stirred, after all.
  • Strainer: You’ll need this to strain all the ice and/or pulp out of your drink before consumption.
  • Jigger: Accuracy in cocktail making is important.
  • Cocktail Stirrer: A long, thin bar spoon will help you stir any cocktail quickly and efficiently without creating a lot of unnecessary disruption.
  • Mixing Glass: A simple yet elegant glass; while not necessary, comes in handy if you’re a big fan of stirred drinks.
  • Muddler: A muddler is a necessity for bringing out essential oils and potent flavor in citrus and herbs.
  • Channel Knife: Perfect for getting just the right kind of twist out of a citrus peel.
  • A Mixologist Recipe Book: Regardless of what anyone says, having one is always quote “handy”.

6. The Most Important Rule(s) to Remember:

Start small, grow gradually. Stocking a home bar is a marathon, not a sprint. Pick alcohol(s) you actually enjoy drinking. You’ll end up spending a fortune for alcohol that you’ll hardly ever use if you’re not careful. As you get more comfortable mixing drinks, expand your menu to include other cocktails.