Home bars are becoming ever more popular these days as economic times are keeping people at home but definitely not keeping them from entertaining. Having a home bar will save you money and add plenty of luster to your home, never mind how popular you’ll be with your friends.
Growing up, I would always marvel at my parents home bar selection and gaze wonderfully at the beautiful green Peppermint Schnapps bottles, the statuesque Galiano bottle and the infamous Black tower wine bottles and dream of someday myself, having the grooviest home bar around.
Not until my early teens did I realize that a concoction made from these same bottles would give me the greatest hang over of my life and help me realize that their may be a proper way to serve a drink without the dizzying blindness associated with drinking your parents “Jungle Juice”
So now that I am much wiser, and having worked behind bars for close to 20 years, I can definitely guide anyone on how to properly stock their home bar with the essentials so as to save them from the embarrassment of not being able to make a proper old fashioned or burnt martini.
Getting these home bar basics will only be the beginning of what will be come a great compliment to your home and of course, your entertaining
The absolute essential alcohols for a home bar
Let’s start with the liquor and alcohol basics, below you will find a dozen essential bottles every bar should have to make 95% of all cocktails known to man. You don’t need to spend a ton of money on premiums either.
- Vodka: Preferably Russian but not necessary. This is a staple so if your going to buy 2 of something, we recommend it be vodka. Some nice product includes; Stolichnaya, Smirnoff, Absolut, Belvedere, Chopin, Greygoose, & Kettel One
- Gin: Any English dry gin will do. This is a staple for the classic martini so have enough on hand. Some product recommendations include; Beefeater, Bombay Sapphire, Plymouth,Tanqueray, Hendricks & Tanqueray 10
- White Rum: Great white Caribbean rum is essential to any bar. Bacardi makes a fantastic product.
- Dark Rum: Think Cuba Libra and you must think Dark Rum. Essential to Mai Tai’s & Planters Punch. For tropical, exotic drinks think Havana Club, Bacardi Dark, Appleton’s & Captain Morgan’s. You can add Spiced rum too but it isn’t an essential yet
- Rye Whiskey: Canadians love their Rye Whiskey, so should you! It is a staple with mixed drinks and a great warmer upper on cold evenings. Some people say mixed with sugar it can cure a cough (or at least help you sleep!). Canadian Club & Seagram’s VO are two of the more famous brands
- Tequila: Mexican tequila is outstanding. There is clear and gold. Gold tequila is achieved through coloring from the casks it is distilled in. Clear tequila mixes well with cocktails, especially margaritas and gold tequila will sip deliciously and works for the occasional shooter. Look for brands such as Sauza, Cuervo, El Jimador, Don Julio & Patron. A nice addition to tequilas is some Mezcal from Oaxaca. A state in Southern Mexico
- Coffee Liqueur: An essential because of its versatility in coffee drinks. Also known as Kahlua or Tia Maria, mixes great with vodka.
- Irish Cream: This liqueur works well on its own and is a staple in coffee drinks. Baileys Irish is the better known brand for sipping. If mixing then any Irish Cream liqueur will do. Great with Kahlua
- Brandy: A Good bar brandy is a staple in any Spanish Coffee. Champagne cocktails & Brandy Alexander’s are but a few of the many drinks made from brandy
- Triple Sec: If you are making Cosmopolitans or margaritas, you had better stock some triple sec.
- White vermouth (Dry): Essential for martini lovers, try the most popular brand of Martini Rosso
- Red Vermouth (Sweet): Mixes well with Rye and various juices. An Essential in a Manhattan & the Rob Roy. Try Cinzano.
Complimentary alcohols and liqueurs
There is a whole list of other essentials below but add these over time and you will eventually have an outstanding home bar
- Créme de Cacao
- Grand Marnier
- Blended Scotches: Chivas Regal, Johnny Walker, etc…
- Single Malt Scotches : Oban, Glenfiddich, lagavulin, Macallan, Glenlivet, Lagavulin
- Bourbon Whiskey: Jim Beam, Wild Turkey, Knob Creek, Makers Mark
- Jack Daniels: This is Sour mashed Whiskey, not to be confused with Bourbon
- Créme de Menthe
- Apple Liqueur
- Banana Liqueur
- Peppermint Schnapps
- Peach Schnapps
There you have it, the absolute essentials for your home bar. Feel free to substitute as you see fit and experiment a little. The best part about having a home bar is sharing your discoveries and cocktail and martini recipes with your friends. Keep searching as there is a wide range of infused vodkas available today and don’t forget about some great flavored liqueurs out there. Find out more on what bar tools, cocktail mixes and ingredients you need to complete your home bar. Have fun and enjoy. Bottoms up!