Stocking A Home Bar On A Budget
To alcohol! The cause of - and solution - to all of life's problems
The Essential Liquors for Stocking A Home Bar
With the right liquors, a couple of cordials, a few mixers, a little quality barware and some fresh ingredients, you'll have all of the basic components for a fully stocked home bar that makes it fun and easy to mix a variety of tasty cocktails for entertaining your family and friends.
While you don't need a lot of specialty liqueurs and fancy bottles to mix quality and great tasting cocktails, you do need to build your mixed drinks on a solid foundation of top shelf spirits, starting with the Six Essential Liquors. Save some money by buying the lessor-used spirits in the economical 750 ml size bottle, which is a little smaller than the traditional "fifth" sized bottle. Even the pint-size 375 ml bottle lets you buy higher quality liquor and a larger variety of spirits than just picking up a few big bottles of booze.
Lead Photo by TrafficJan82 (Public Domain)
Stocking A Home Bar: Introducing The Starting Team
Bourbon & Whiskey
The classic America malt spirit born in the hills and aged in wooded barrels. Many take their bourbon "on the rocks" or with a little soda, and bourbon is the base of many mixed drinks.
Jack Daniels is the standard for good sipping whiskey and Maker's Mark is a personal favorite bourbon.
A good potato vodka is good for just about any vodka drink, from a straight up martini to a richly flavored mudslide.
Keep the vodka in the cabinet; the freezer was fine for the college day kamikazes, but keeping vodka in the freezer does not improve its flavor or consistency.
Fruit flavored vodkas are trendy and add to a few specialty drinks, but start with a versatile performer like Stolichnaya or Grey Goose.
Kind of like sports fans, it seems like each Scotch drinker has their own strong convictions on the best and the worst. By definition, Scotch has to come from Scotland in order to be called Scotch (when made in America, the same basic recipe is whiskey and bourbon).
Single malt Scotch is preferred by many (Talasker for me) but unless Scotch is one of your passions, a quality middle-of-the-road brand such as Johnny Walker Red or Johnny Walker Black will satisfy most cocktail requirements, and it's good enough to drink 'on the rocks'.
Festive and flavorful, rum is a cornerstone of the well stocked bar. Mixed with juices or sodas, served warm or cold, rum plays well with many different kinds of mixers - including eggnog.
Try Gosling's Black Seal for a unique taste of the Islands.
Good gin still means a great martini. Though gin is not as popular today as it was in past generations, a well balanced gin & tonic (with fresh mint) makes for a nice cocktail to enjoy on a warm summer evening.
Tanqueray is ubiquitous but good.
Not just for Margaritas or Cinco De Mayo (although great for both!), tequila makes for many different creative and flavorful mixed drinks, either frozen, on ice or straight up, and is especially good for outdoor gatherings.
Jose Cuervo Especial is 100% agave tequila, and will get the job done right.
Photo by Photomag (Public Domain)
The Starters Get Even Better When The 2nd Team Of Liquors Join The Party
Creme de Cocoa:
Sticky and sweet, Creme de Cocoa compliments the sharp flavors of the Vodka and others in a variety of tasty cocktails.
Used sparingly in most drink recipes, a small 375 ml bottle goes a long way.
The stable of the classic gin martini, vermouth is nimble and versatile enough to match with other strong players such as bourbon.
A must have for Margaritas.
Bring In The Mixers!
Add the Mixers
You don't need a lot of different juices and sodas, but you do need a few of the basics. Buy ginger ale, tonic water and juices such as pineapple juice in small cans or bottles to keep the mixer fresh and ready when needed.
Use clean, fresh ice made from good tasting water. If your tap water has that municipal taste, make cocktail ice from bottled water. Ice is a key ingredient in most cocktails, especially sipping Scotch, whiskey and bourbon.
The different between a good drink and a great drink is in the garnish (along with quality ingredients mixed to the right proportions). An orange slice, a twist of lemon peel or a sprig of fresh mint add freshness and flavor to cap off a carefully prepared cocktail. Fresh lime juice makes a margarita, while olives are essential for martinis (pass on those little jarred onions).
Do You Have A Well Stocked Home Bar?
A Well Equipped Home Bar Needs A Few Select Tools For Proper Cocktail Preparation
Get A Cocktail Recipe Book
Yup, you need a book.
There are thousands of different drink concoctions with subtle variations, and the key to a well prepared drink is to balance the flavors of the ingredients. A good drink mixology book will offer contemporary drink ideas along with the proper proportions to mix the classics just right.
A Great Cocktail Deserves A Stylish Glass
Serve it up right, and the cocktail looks as good as it tastes. After carefully preparing a cocktail, serve it proudly in an appropriate glass. The three basic essential shapes are the martini, rocks and highball glasses. Get a few of each.
On The Rocks:
Mix Them Up Right!
A versatile tool, the classic three piece metal shaker is inexpensive yet vital for mixing cocktails. Add ice, measure in the ingredients, then close and give it a couple of brisk shakes. Remove the top and pour!
10-Piece Cocktail Shaker and Bar Tool Set
How to Win a Bar Bet
Here's A Friendly Tavern Wager That You Can Win 100% Of The Time!
The trick to winning this wager is in the set up and in the execution. Just make sure that you lay out the ground rules correctly -- and that you have a designated driver to take you home afterwards.
Bet your friend that you can drink three mugs of beer before he or she can down a single shot of their favorite liquor. The bartender serves all three of your mugs and the shot glass, and all are positioned on the bar top.
1) Only your friend can touch or move their shot glass
2) Only you can touch or move your mugs
3) Your friend must agree to give you a head start. No one can touch or reach for the shot glass until you have finished your first mug, and returned it to the bar top.
Once the rules are agreed upon and the wager is set, casually reach for first mug and take your time in drinking it down.
When finished completely, invert your mug and place it upside down over the shot glass.
Remember Rule #2: only you can touch or move your mugs. You can now leisurely finish the other two mugs, while the shot glass rests safely under the inverted mug.