Stocking A Home Bar
Now, stocking a great home bar is really not that hard to do. It is just based on how much you can afford to spend, and how large you want your arsenal to be. If you have a lot of money to blow and want a top notch bar with the finest curated liquors, then by all means, go forth (also, let’s be friends). However, you can also achieve a successful bar at home filled with the components that you’ll need to make a wonderful selection of drinks without costing you an inordinate sum of cash. However much money you have to spend on creating the perfect home bar, you’ll need to start with the basics. We’ve come up with a grocery list of essentials you’ll need to stock your home bar depending on your budget.
Stocking A Home Bar
See? A not too shabby price tag for a pretty sweet (and very well-stocked!) home bar. We’d call that a win-win situation in our book. And, once you’ve got all your glassware and bar tools together, the cost of stocking your bar only gets cheaper from there on out. Now all you need to do is get shopping, learn some bar terms and signature cocktail recipes (Google can seriously be your best friend here), and invite over all your friends to show off your inner bartender.
Stocking A Home Bar
If you’re stocking a home bar for the first time, or you’re wondering why you never seem to have just the right ingredients to mix good, staple drinks at home, this video will help you out. In it, bartenders from around the globe explain exactly what your home bar needs, from base spirits to mixers.
Stocking 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.
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.
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.
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.
The point is, when you invite people over, you want to be able to make them what they actually want to drink. It's a lot more fun that way. No need to get fancy, but low-key bartending abilities are still good to have. It's an impressive skill, really. And if you go through all this bar-stocking and you still want some weird dry-ice cocktail, then the world is your oyster, or in this case, your orange peel.
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.
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.
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:
There are few things more enjoyable than having a properly stocked bar in the comfort of your own home. We’re not talking about having one go-to bottle stashed away in the back of your freezer and a 6-pack of beer that you picked up on your way home from work. What you need, friends, is a solid bar stocked with the basics so you can entertain (and impress) guests, as well as treat yourself to the gift of a properly mixed drink. Starting a home bar may seem daunting or superfluous, but when your lady friend (or your boss or anyone else that needs to be impressed) comes over and you can artfully craft for her a cocktail of her choosing, you’ll surely be glad you took our advice. We’re not saying that procuring the perfect Moscow Mule or Gimlet for your lady or your boss is guaranteed to help you score that second date or that promotion… but we’re not not saying that, either.
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
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.
Rum: Make sure you have a white rum in your home bar, which is quintessential for mixing many cocktails. For punches, dark rum is key. If this home bar is for your personal use, white rum will do you just fine. If you plan to throw a party, add a dark rum into the mix.
All you need to stock the perfect home bar is a dozen bottles and a few essential tools, according to David and Lesley Solmonson, authors of The 12 Bottle Bar. From there, the cocktail combinations are practically limitless.
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. If you’re entertaining or throwing a party, be sure to pick up a little of each to imbibe all of your guests.