Essentials For A Home Bar

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Essentials For A Home Bar

Home Bar Rule #1: Pick alcohol you actually enjoy imbibing. When I first started my own home bar, I only picked spirits that I thought would impress guests when I had them over. I ended up spending a fortune for alcohol that I hardly ever used. While you’ll use your home bar for entertaining, don’t forget that a home bar’s main customer is you. When you mix yourself a cocktail to sip on the weekends while you sit on the patio with your dog, you want to enjoy it. The dog doesn’t care what your favorite gin is. That is of course if this pooch isn’t your dog. He’s so smug.

Essentials For A Home Bar

Remember Home Bar Rule #2: Start small. If you don’t have room or any place to store your home bar, keep your home bar small. Pick two or three different liquors and stick with those. When I was in an apartment, I kept my small bar in a cabinet above the fridge, and I kept my mixers and garnishes in the fridge.

Essentials For A Home Bar

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My home bar currently consists of about 300 bottles of alcohol. However, I remember the day not so long ago when I had a bottle of Dalmore 12 Scotch and a bottle of Courvoisier VSOP. I have a clear recollection of wondering how the hell I was going to build a bar. It seemed the alcohol vanished faster than it appeared. However, with time, patience, consistency and self-control, you will quickly be able to build up a bar that soon will only need an occasional bottle of alcohol to keep it stocked. However, if I’m honest, I can tell you that my bar which is larger than most home bars will never be fully stocked in my opinion. I am always working to build it. My wife on the other hand thinks I’m nuts.

Essentials For A Home Bar

If you do move into a bigger place and you’ve really enjoyed being a home mixologist, then I can’t recommend installing a permanent home bar in your home enough. Many homes today come with wet bars and storage space for a home bar. If you don’t have that, with a little initiative and sweat, you can install your own bar in an unused room in the house.

Essentials For A Home Bar

If you only have a handful or a small selection of liquor in your bar, it’s going to look rather silly in a large liquor cabinet. Instead, pick up a bar cart and organize them neatly on it with a set of bar tools and some crystal glassware. All of a sudden, it doesn’t look like a small bar but looks like a fine selection of spirits.

Essentials For A Home Bar

If you’d like something a bit more distinguished than your kitchen cabinet to serve as the home for your home bar, consider getting a cocktail cabinet or mini bar. They’re small pieces of handsome furniture that you can usually put up against the wall. They’re nice because they can serve as a gathering point without having a huge bar installed in your home. Cocktail cabinets take up very little space, but can hold quite a bit of alcohol and glassware. I have friend who picked up a vintage cocktail cabinet at the antique store. It was a bit rough, but with a bit of elbow grease he was able to spruce it up. Here’s a nice example of a retro cocktail cabinet from the 50s:

Essentials For A Home Bar

In addition to alcohol, one thing worth getting at the start of the bar is a bottle of Angostura bitters since they’re called for so much in cocktails. As you build the bar, you can begin to add things like grenadine, various flavored bitters and other bar mix to the collection.

Essentials For A Home Bar

I have built my bar over several years and I agree, that it is easy to maintain at this point. I usually run out of ice first, as a previous reader had mentioned, or I run out of cocktail glasses.I have found it interesting to offer a basic bar, such as club soda, Collins, vermouth, bitters, ice, bourbon, gin, vodka, rum, brandy, scotch, some pre-prepared garnish options (olive, cherry, lime, lemon, orange, onion etc.), but also offer one or two featured craft cocktails that I have already tried, and believe that my guests might find interesting.My wife and I once received a formal invitation to a “cocktail party” and upon arrival, we were asked if we would like a cocktail. I requested a bourbon on the rocks and was told by the host that all she had was wine, red or white. No matter what you decide to do with your bar, if you mention the word “cocktails” in an invitation, please make sure that you have cocktails.TheQuietMan

The fact is that developing a home bar doesn’t mean having to spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars. There are tricks to making you look like a veteran host with just a handful of spirits on hand, and if you follow my advice, you’ll develop a reasonably sized bar without much effort or investment.

It might feel like a home bar should have one of everything, but the best way to stock your bar is to start with the cocktails you love to drink. Plan your cocktail shopping the way you plan your meal shopping. If, say, you’re making a lasagna, you’ll make a list of the things you need for that, and you’ll shop accordingly. So when you want lasagna, you buy what you need for the lasagna; why buy ribeye steaks and turkey breast and spare ribs when all you really want is lasagna?

Also, you don’t have to have your bar always stocked and prepared for a big party. When you host a party, stock up your bar to fill your needs. When you’re not anticipating a party, there’s no need to have gallons of tonic water or dozens of lime wedges on hand.

4 & 5. Tequila (Silver & Gold)The good folks at 12 Bottle Bar have based an entire cocktail blog on the idea that a good bar can be complete with only 12 bottles. Tequila, however, was left off the list. Their justification? The only classic cocktail you can make with tequila is a margarita. Right – but where would we be without margaritas? (Look for bottles labeled “100 percent de agave” – anything else contains ‘fillers’ made from tequila-flavored grain alcohol. Gross.)

9 of 9 The Nonalcoholic Bar No one should be punished for passing up a cocktail, but if plain soda and canned juice are the only alternatives, an abstainer is likely to wind up pouting in the corner. Fortunately, there are enough flavorful nonalcoholic beverages to fill an entire bar and bring cheer to the soberest of souls. Mix fresh-squeezed orange or grapefruit juice with a splash of seltzer to make a light cocktail. Also try sweetened, diluted lime and lemon juice served over crushed ice, or whip fresh or frozen berries in a blender with ice and a dash of lime. Get our Nonalcoholic Drink Recipes

The next thing you’ll want to start collecting is beer. If you enjoy beer, focus on buying bottles that aren’t your favorite so that you won’t run the risk of plowing through them by yourself on a hot summer day. Try to stock a variety if you can, and it’s always a good idea to invest in a bar fridge for it. Rather than buying new, check sites like eBay or Craigslist for great deals. Try to build a collection of popular varieties with some local craft beers and specialty beers thrown in the mix. Since a 24 pack of domestic beer is so inexpensive, it’s an excellent way to really build the bar, and most men will opt for a cold beer when given the choice.

Now of course, in the kitchen, it helps to always have some pantry staples around, such as various dried beans, pasta, canned tomatoes, spices, and so on. In the same way, it’s always good to have bar staples around. The two most important bar staples are bitters and simple syrup. The latter’s easy. Add one part water and two parts sugar to a saucepan, heat it long enough for the sugar to dissolve, and then let it cool long enough to be bottled.

For the gentleman who enjoys entertaining, a properly stocked bar is a must. A well-mixed drink can help schmooze a boss, romance a date, and impress a friend. Mixing drinks at home for friends and family makes me feel like some swanky 1960s gentleman pouring drinks in his Space Age-inspired mid-century home. I love that feeling.

So my advice to the man just starting out: start small, grow gradually. Stocking a home bar is a marathon, not a sprint. I recommend beginning by getting the ingredients needed to make the cocktails you enjoy and know how to make well. Like Manhattans? Canadian whisky and vermouth. Martinis? Gin and vermouth.

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