home bar, stocked, liquor, spirits, tools

5 Steps to Stock Your Home Bar

With more people entertaining at home, at-home bars have become popular remodeling projects. In fact, some homeowners are prioritizing a home bar over remodeling their kitchen! 

Of course, you don’t have to drop big bucks to have a home bar. There are numerous budget-friendly ways to create one. And many homeowners enjoy preparing cocktails for friends and family even if their bar is temporary—such as pulling out a folding table or dedicating some countertop space. 

Regardless of the home bar you have or want, here are five essential steps to help plan your next gathering.

Step 1. Select Your Spirits

Stocking a full bar is expensive, so it’s often preferable to offer a few mixed drink options along with other adult beverages like wine or beer.

Vodka may belong at the top of your list since it’s likely the most popular and versatile distilled spirit. And you might want to add a flavored vodka too.

A light and dark rum may be your next priority since rum is used in daiquiris, mojitos, and many tropical drinks. 

Tequila is essential if you’re serving margaritas, but it’s also useful for several other cocktails. Gin drinks, on the other hand, are less popular but have loyal fans.

Whiskey gets tricky since you’ll encounter a wide range of flavor profiles and prices. The safest bet may be two bottles—a blended Canadian whiskey and a reputable bourbon.

Finally, various flavored liqueurs also play an essential role in some mixed drink recipes, so consider adding them to your collection as your cocktail repertoire expands.  

Step 2. Choose Mixers

Your mix of mixers will vary, depending on your cocktail menu. However, carbonated colas, ginger ale, club soda, and tonic water are typical.

Citrus juices, including orange, lemon, and lime, also play a vital role in numerous cocktails. Likewise, tomato juice is indispensable for the bloody mary, and cranberry juice is crucial for a cosmopolitan.

As you build your bartending repertoire, you may want to bring simple syrup and various bitters into the mix.

When selecting mixers, be sure to include a few appealing nonalcoholic options, such as sodas and sparkling waters.

Step 3. Gather Garnishes

Again, your garnishes will depend on the drinks you plan to serve. For example, lemons, limes, and oranges are used in many mixed drinks and some beers.

Other cocktails call for olives or maraschino cherries. And to rim glass edges, you’ll find various types of salts and sugars. 

Step 4. Invest in Glassware

Since glasses consume a lot of cabinet space, it’s often preferable to limit your collection to sizes and shapes that can be used for multiple mixed drinks:

Rocks glasses—Also called old fashioned or lowball glasses, these shorter glasses are frequently used for cocktails heavy on spirits and light on ice, like their namesake, the old fashioned.

Highball glasses—Tall glasses that can hold up to 12 ounces of liquid but are often filled with ice to serve drinks like mojitos, vodka tonics, or tequila sunrise. 

Coupe glasses—Originally designed to serve champagne, these stemmed glasses with a broad bowl work well with numerous chilled cocktails. Think martinis, margaritas, negronis, and more.

In addition to these mainstays, you may also want to stock up on wine glasses. Select a shape that pairs well with the wines you enjoy, or choose multipurpose glasses, with or without stems.

Step 5. Add Bar Tools

Essential bar accessories also depend on the types of drinks you want to prepare, but the most common equipment includes:

- An ice bucket and tongs (plus extra ice in a freezer or cooler)

- A cocktail shaker with a strainer

- A jigger with 1-ounce and 1.5-ounce measures

- A long mixing spoon

- A peeler, paring knife, and cutting board to cut fruit wedges or slice off citrus rinds

- Toothpicks for garnished drinks

- Straws for tall cocktails

If your gathering includes wine drinkers, add a corkscrew. Beer fans will welcome a bottle opener and may appreciate insulated sleeves to keep cans and bottles cold.

A stack of cocktail napkins can help prevent icy glasses from sweating and dripping. And if you’re concerned about protecting furniture surfaces, have enough coasters on hand too!