Your musts for making bar magic.
There are few things more “fun-stopping” for a house party than a poorly stocked home bar. If you don’t have the tools, the glassware, the spirits, and the garnishes at the ready, your guests won’t have near the good time that you’d like them to have. Even if the home bar is only for you and your immediate family, it’s a lot less compelling to use often if it isn’t full of the things you need.
So what are the minimums you need for stocking a home bar? Cover the four areas below, and you’ll be set for most occasions and a lot of fun daily use.
Pick up your barware essentialsThere are a lot more tools to have on hand for your home’s bar than simply relying on a corkscrew. You’ll need to have essentials like a bar spoon, bar shaker, ice bucket, strainer, measuring jigger, and cutting boards. The more items that you have access to, the more drinks you’ll be able to prepare for both you and your guests. When it comes to measuring drinks, it’s also good to have a clear measuring cup to accommodate a variety of conversions and volumes. There are many barware essentials sets that cover many of these needs with one purchase.
It’s also important to use large ice cubes to avoid having the cocktail become diluted within a few minutes of making the drink. You should have a pound of ice on hand per guest when preparing for an event.
And don’t forget – grab a bartending recipe bible. Stocking your home bar is not complete without your guide to making those exceptional drinks you may have never heard of before.
Get your glassware
The glassware you choose when stocking a home bar will ultimately determine what you’ll be serving. At the minimum, invest in short rocks glasses and standard beverage glasses or highball glasses. That will cover a majority of standard mixed drinks. Pick up pint glasses if you plan on serving beer. If your space is more like a wine lounge, of course stemmed wine glasses (for both white and red) are a must. Stemmed martini glasses, too, should be on your radar if you’re creating a home bar lounge feel.
Purchase an average of ten glasses for each type of glassware unless you typically invite a larger number of people. Ten provides you with enough that you can serve an unexpected gathering or have back-ups against unexpected glassware crashes.
Buy your spirits
Here are your minimums: Vodka, gin, rum, and tequila. That’s your typical speed rack in a professional bar. These four liquors will cover a large variety of cocktail types. Whiskey, bourbon, scotch, dessert liquors and other less-used spirits are all optional – it really all depends on your tastes and the mood you are trying to set. And, of course, having a few bottles of white and red wine, along with some bottled beers can round out that home bar perfectly.
On flavored liquors – they are terrific for mixing, but there are so many types, it’s near impossible to stock them all on an average budget. Review your favorite cocktails prior to stocking and choose two or three varieties to stock immediately. These bottles tend to last a lot longer than your main spirits as most drinks only use a count or two of the flavored liquor. Our recommendations would be: Triple Sec, Amaretto, and Campari. These three cover many cocktails.
If you plan on making martinis, you’ll want to stock dry vermouth. If you’re more a Manhattan or Negroni type, then a red sweet vermouth should be at hand. Don’t forget these, as a martini isn’t a martini without vermouth, even if it’s only a whisper of the apertif added.
Pick up your mixes and garnishes
Start with tonic and soda water as vodka and gin mix well with both. Different sodas (dark and clear) and juices (especially orange and grapefruit juice) provide a lot of mixing pleasure. Sour mix, lime juice, and simple syrup help you round out a great deal of that bartender’s bible. You could also pick up a basic margarita mix, but that’s possible to make from scratch using sour mix and lime. Have a bottle of bitters behind that home bar as well. Someone will ask for it, and they last a long, long time.
For garnishes, have cherries, lime, and lemon on hand, and you’ll be covered for many mixed drinks. Keep olives at your home bar if you’re planning on serving martinis. Lastly, don’t forget to have some cocktail napkins, mixing straws, and toothpicks available. They’ll help keep things clean and your garnishes in place.