Stocking a home bar doesn’t have to be hard. Remember that it is your taste that decides what makes the cut into your very own bar! If you already have the perfect spot for your home bar, you just need to know what you like to drink (shouldn't be too hard to figure out).
Pro Tip: Try to visit your neighborhood bars to taste a few glasses of liquor to get an idea of what to buy.
You should also determine the kind of bar you want to build. Is it a bar that can provide cocktails or a spirits bar? Consider your goals before buying anything.
We collected some thoughts from the pros (us) for your perfect home bar:
Liquors like a cool place that is not exposed to direct sunlight. Consume the liquor as quickly as possible once you see that the liquid level is already low as the air in the bottle will remove the flavors (again, shouldn't be too difficult, right?).
Do Your Research Before You Shop
If there’s something you love, determine what you liked about it and where you can get more of it. Jot down what you like about a particular cocktail flavor profile or bottle.
Did you like the vanilla of the liquor? What about the fruitiness or bitterness? If you hate something, obviously, stay away from it. When purchasing another brand, make sure to consider the region it is produced since it’s associated with character in spirits.
If you want to make some awesome cocktails as well, we're gonna need a few extras besides the liquor and as usual: everything depends on your taste!
Do you want to have more options for tequila or you’d like to try everything? Research first and depending on the kind of cocktails you want to make, you will need to secure some ingredients such as syrups, liqueurs, fresh fruits, and bitters.
The International Bartenders Association (yes, that's a thing!) has a wide variety of taste-tested drinks and they cover everything from classics to new era drinks. You should definitely check out their cocktail list HERE (http://iba-world.com/iba-cocktails/).
Alternatively (and maybe even the better option), book us for an event and we will do a 1 on 1 consultation with you to find the perfect cocktails for you! BOOK US HERE!
Barware and Glassware
For mixing cocktails, you will need some bar items, such as a shaker, jigger, strainer, bar spoon, ice cube trays, and a muddler (for Mojitos).
If you are somewhat on a tight budget, a shaker and a jigger will do at first and you can build your bar kit on that. More on how to build a perfect bar kit in a later post.
A few basics are described below:
Depending on the cocktail, you will either need a shaker or mixing glass for stirring.
Shaker: Pick one that fits good in your hands and do a few test runs of shaking in the store (yes, done it before so you don't have to feel stupid :))
Mixing Glass: The mixing glass is usually available as a beaker-shaped container where you will dump and stir the ingredients and ice with a cocktail spoon. This will dilute the ice and bring out the many flavors of whiskey, for example.
Jigger: A jigger is a cocktail measurer that’s made of stainless steel and looks like 2 small metallic ice cream cones that are stuck together by the tip. Measurements of each cone are written on their inside. This allows perfect measuring of your ingredients and therefore, a perfect cocktail!
As for your glassware, you only need 6 or 8 of a stem, short glass, and tall glass. These are the basic types of glassware that should cover most of your cocktails out there. If you want to serve wine at parties, you need to get 12 basic stemmed wine glasses. You can get separate sets of glasses for white and red wine or one shape that is perfect for both.
You will also need a regular supply of ice if you want to make cocktails. If you want to avoid too much dilution, use larger ice cubes (Pro Tip: Spherical ice cubes dilute the slowest!). Size doesn’t matter if you are using ice to simply stir or shake a drink. If you want to socialize while drinking, you should include lower ABV spirits and non-alcoholic options such as ginger beer, specialty sodas and cranberry juice in your bar.
Liquors to Start With
Vodka is used in basic drinks like screwdrivers, a vodka martini, and vodka tonics. It is one of the most versatile spirits so you can use it with almost anything.
Try: Grey Goose, Belvedere, or Tito’s
It’s perfect for Palomas, margaritas, and sunrises. Check the label to see if the tequila is made from 100% agave. Anything else has fillers made from grain alcohol that’s flavored with tequila.
Try: El Jimador or Alteño
Bourbon is perfect for whiskey sours, Manhattans, and other classics.
Try: Bulleit or Blanton's
Rum is important for daiquiris and mojitos. You can also mix it with pineapple juice.
Try: Flor de Caña White or Rhum Clement Premiére Canne
Dark rum has a molasses-y and rich taste.
Try: Myers’ or Gosling’s
Many people don’t like gin so if you are one of those people try to get something that is not too gin-heavy. For example, one with a bit of berry flavor to get used to the taste. You can use gin to make cocktails such as Tom Collins as well as tonics and martinis. Try: Aviation or Broker's
Rye whiskey or rye can be used for making Manhattans. It tastes like the American whiskeys, but it has some spiciness to it.
Try: Rittenhouse, Old Overholt, or Bulleit
If you have Vermouth, you should refrigerate and drink it fairly quickly since it’s a wine. Vermouth is flavored with a blend of herbs. The fortified wine supports other flavors really well and is available in dry and sweet varieties.
Try: For the sweet variety, Martini Rossi. Noilly Pratt for the dry version.
Triple Sec (a.k.a. Orange Liqueur)
It’s a bar essential that boasts a clean natural orange flavor. Use it to make margaritas. Try: Gran Torres, Cointreau, or Grand Marnier
Absinthe has an interesting taste, but it’s popular for making a person hallucinate. Absinthe sold in the US don’t contain hallucinogenic ingredients so no need to worry when you use it to make the iconic Sazerac (New Orlean's official cocktail)!
There are so many different kinds of bitters that we can't list them all! Bitters enhance flavors and can give drinks a certain spin. Start playing around with bitters and you might discover the next IBA classic!
Cognac can be used for brandy milk punches, smashes, crustas, sidecars, and daises.
These are only some of the most important things to keep in mind when stocking your home bar. Remember that it is your home bar, so it is your taste that will matter most.
If you are still a little unsure about how to mix all this stuff together, just hire one of our awesome bartenders and make your party kick ass!
- See you behind the bar!
Now, get yourself a drink. You deserve it!