Whether its Friday night cocktails with friends or you just want to create your own weeknight night happy hour, having a home bar can be a fun and rewarding experience. First let me start by saying, it’s not rocket science. You can choose to stock your bar with as much or as little to suit your needs. If you have friends over quite often (and having a fully stocked bar will surely draw them in) then you may wish to have more choices. If your crowd consists of wine aficionados then having a few bottles of fine wine may suit you better than having a full selection of liquors. Regardless, here are some basic supplies and liquors to get you started. Feel free to substitute as you wish. Also let me say that unless you plan to drop several hundreds or even thousands of dollars this weekend, there is really no need to purchase everything for your hometown saloon all at once. Think of it more like a collection which will grow with you over time and experience. Ok so here it goes.
The Bar Itself: Set aside a special space for your bar. This will vary depending on your home and your personal needs. It may be a cabinet or pantry in your kitchen, a baker’s rack in your dining room, or a complete back-bar or antique cabinet you inherited from your grandfather. This is probably a no-brainer but if there are children in your home remember to be responsible. Keep liquor and glass out of reach of little ones. Locks aren’t hard to come by and can help secure your liquor from getting into the wrong hands.
Basic Barware: Jigger: This will help you get proper measurements for your cocktails. Most jiggers have a one ounce measure on one side and a one and a half ounce on the opposite. Tip: a simple shot glass is also an effective measuring cup ; )
Shaker: For drinks that need to be shaken not stirred
Long cocktail Spoon(s): For stirring and fetching cocktail garnishes like cherries or olives.
Paring knife & small cutting board: Hopefully you’ve already got this covered, these are perfect for slicing up a little lemon wedge or other garnish
Corkscrew: For your wine, if you are a wine connoisseur get yourself a professional opener such as the Rabbit which will open your bottles with ease.
Ice Bucket: to keep ice on hand for mixed drinks or use to chill wine & beer.
Complimentary barware: Blender: Most people have one already, good for margaritas, daiquiris and crushing ice.
Bottle stoppers: To preserve the flavor of your fine wines
Hand Held Juicer: For um, fresh juice of course. This isn’t absolutely necessary but hey if you’ve got one around it can be helpful for lemons, limes, oranges. You get the idea.
Muddler: For mashing up fruit & mint leaves
Glass markers: These are those fun little bobbles you put on the stem of your wine or martini glasses so you know which glass is yours. We offer many printable versions and coordinating party décor, check them out in our party kits when you get a moment.
Basic Glassware: It’s good to have at least 4-6 of each of these on hand; you may need more or less. Discount stores and big box stores carry glassware very inexpensively, collect them all or mix and match. There is no rule that you must serve your margarita in a margarita glass, etc. Sometimes being a little creative is more fun anyway!
Wine glasses: All purpose glasses are a good start and will work for both red and white however truth be told you get the best flavor out of your wines with the right glass. If you drink a lot of wine branch out and get some specialized large bowled glasses for red wines in addition to your all purpose pieces.
Martini glasses: A classic glass makes all your mixed concoctions look elegant, even if it’s not a martini!
Old Fashion rocks glasses; Short glasses with a heavy base, used for serving whiskeys and other “on the rocks” drinks
Highball or Tom Collins: A taller version of the rocks glass and is great for just about any mixed drink
Beer Glasses: These are the tall boys, perfect for serving up a bubbly brew
Complimentary Glassware: Champagne flutes: For holidays and extra special occasions
Margarita Glass: For your frozen concoctions these are just more fun
Shot Glass: For shots of course! These also come in handy for measuring liquor.
Liquor: Since many of these liquors are going to be mixed, top shelf brands aren’t really necessary unless you have a preference or like to drink your liquor on the rocks. We have noted some suggestions of major brands here but by all means feel free to substitute & experiment. And remember there is no need to go clean out your local liquor store all at once. Shop around, check out sales, stock up on ingredients you’ll need for one or two of your favorite cocktails and before you know it you’ll have more than ample supplies. Often times the corner liquor mart will clearance out higher end items as they are not purchased as much as in the major liquor retailers so keep that it mind. And bulk suppliers such as Costco or SAMS Club are a great place to stock up on larger quantities of your favorites.
Vodka – Grey Goose, Smirnoff, Kettle One & Blue Sky all come to mind
Whiskey- Think good ol Jack Daniels here
Bourbon – Jim Beam
Gin- Beefeater or Seagrams
Irish Cream-Bailey’s is the all time classic choice but for a mixer save a few dollars and go with Carolans
White Rum - Bacardi
Dark Rum-Captain Morgan
Wine (Red and White)
Beer (light and dark)
Mixers & Condiments: Mixers are an essential part of your bar and a must have for your non-alcoholic drinkers. Have a good selection on hand at all times. Many items are available by the can or in smaller quantities so you don’t need to be wasteful especially if you know Aunt Margaret is the only one who drinks Bloody Marys.
Milk or Cream
Cola (diet & regular)
Lemon lime soda
Tomato juice or Bloody Mary mix
Simple Syrup- A sweet mixture made by boiling together equal parts water and sugar.
Tabasco- for a spicy Bloody Mary, also good on eggs they say
Worcestershire sauce- delicious on steak too
Garnishes: Green olives
Lemons & Limes: these are nice to have around anytime; they are great in cooking and add a fabulous pop of color to your countertop or dinner table (we love to decorate with usable items.)
Swizzle sticks &/or toothpicks
Recipes: A book with recipes comes in handy. There are a few good ones out there, or print your favorite recipes we post here on www.shysocialites.com and organize them in a binder. We also have many designer binders available in our party store & stationery stores or ask us to create a special design just for you.
A final word of advice, please drink responsibly. There’s something to be said about the glamour and sex appeal of holding a pretty cocktail, it’s quite another to find you’ve had one too many. Pace yourself and have fun. Also remember to keep an eye on your guests, and never let your friends drink and drive.