How to Stock Your Home Bar Like a Boss
Having a home bar is a great idea for folks who like to throw house parties. They also make it easy to enjoy a cocktail at home after a long day at work. But before you run down to the liquor store, there are a few bar essentials that you are going to need to consider if you want to be the master of the home bar.
Stocking Your Home Bar To Your Tastes
It’s really easy to start overthinking what you need for your first home bar. So my first tip on how to stock your home bar is simple. Before you start shopping, you should always begin by thinking about what kind of drinks you actually like to make. What kind of liquors are they made of? Are they made with any mixers, garnishes, bitters, or extra equipment, like a blender?
If all you like are martinis, there won’t be a need for you to stock up on Beer, Wine, or non-essential liquors. It saves you time, space, and not to mention money. Knowing exactly what goes into the drinks you like to make can help you create a shopping list of all the things you actually need. The following is a general breakdown of what goes into stocking a home bar.
True Essentials for Every Home Bar
There are a few staple types of alcohol, mixers, garnishes, and tools that every bar should have. Bar essentials can be broken up into a couple different categories. For the sake of our infographic, we split them into 4 categories: Liquors, Beer & Wine, Mixers & Garnishes, and Tools and Glassware.
As a rule of thumb, it’s a good idea to have Gin, Vodka, Whiskey, Rum, Tequila, and either Cointreau or Triple Sec on hand, but not all are necessary. Always feel free to omit liquors that you don’t like, be frugal on less important bottles, and splurge on the ones you like the most. This quick guide can give you an idea of what to buy if you want to save or splurge on good spirits.
Beer and Wine
Keeping a stock of beer or wine in your bar is a matter of preference. Not every bar needs them, especially if you don’t drink them. Adding beer and wine to your bar might also include an added expense of purchasing a mini fridge or wine cooler to keep your brews and whites icy cold.
Fun Home Bar Tip: If you are crafty and like wine, you can create a wine rack for your home bar, like these DIY Wine Racks.
Mixers and Garnishes
If you want to be a master mixologist, you are going to need a variety of mixers on hand. Mixers come in the form of fruit juices, vegetable juices, sodas, ginger ale, tonic water, and I’ll stash bitters here for the sake of convenience (even though they really aren’t a mixer and are more of a flavoring agent). It’ll be a wise investment to have a few bottles of club soda, ginger ale, cranberry juice, grapefruit juice, and some sodas stashed under the bar. Some even come in 6 pack bottles or cans that you can store in a mini fridge.
A true home bar is not complete without an array of garnishes ready to spruce up your cocktails’ presentation. You’ll want to have a couple lemons, limes, or oranges ready to cut up, or some cocktail olives primed on toothpicks for your after dinner martinis.
Fun Home Bar Tip: You can even create special blends of sugars and salts or peppers, for lining your glassware, and keep them in little jars.
Tools and Glassware
You know the old adage Keep It Simple Stupid? This is definitely where this applies. You only really need three types of glassware: Stemmed glasses (Wine, Margarita, Cocktail, etc.), Old Fashioned glasses (Lowball, Rocks, Scotch, etc.), and Highball glasses (or Collins glasses). These are essentially what you serve every cocktail in the book in, minus shots of course.
If you want to get fancy and learn a bit more about the types of different glassware, check out our Everything Guide to Glassware.
There are a lot of tools in the Bartending trade that you’ll need to employ in your home bar. Some of the essential tools include measuring tools (spoons, cups, jiggers, etc.), shakers, strainers, bottle openers, bar or long spoons, peelers, zesters, juice squeezers, and muddlers. If you don’t have them on hand, you can easily substitute them with tools you keep in the kitchen. Save yourself some green and see our article of Simple Bartender Hacks for Missing Bar Instruments.
If you like to mix up some cocktails for parties, you might also want to consider having a pitcher or fancy drink dispenser at the bar. A blender is also a must if you want to make frozen blended cocktails like Margaritas and Daiquiris.
Home Bar CheckList
So it’s time to go shopping, but you still aren’t 100% sure what to buy. This graphical checklist is a simplified list of Staple items you will want to have in stock, or add to, your home bar.
Now that you’ve stocked up your home bar, it’s time to kick back and mix up one our Drink of the Week cocktails….for practice of course.