Do you have all of the essentials?
As a bartender and a sommelier, I’ve found my passion in both creating drinks and sharing stories about drinks. Alcohol has its own pathway of human history but it walks right along side the timeline of the world. There are so many delicious drinks that were created during exceedingly important times in history. From the Old Fashioned to the AMF, each drink has its place, and it certainly depends on where you are.
But when you’re at home, it’s different. You want to make sure you not only have the ingredients to your favorite drinks, but you also want to make sure you have enough of a variety if you plan on hosting.
Now we don't need to discuss the different garnishes and the different tools because you can absolutely get around that. In a home bar there are some basic things that you will probably need in order to be accommodating to all of your guests.
1) All five of your main spirits: Vodka, Gin, Tequila, Rum, and Whiskey.
Make sure to have one of each, that way you can make all different varieties of drinks, or even similar drinks with just a change in spirit.
My suggestion(s) for
Vodka: KetelOne ($$$), Grey Goose($$$$), Stolichnaya($$) or Absolute($$).
Gin: Tanqueray($$$), Hendricks($$$$), St. George($$$$) or Beefeater($$).
Tequila: Don Julio($$$), Cazadores($$) or Clasé Azu($$$$).
Rum: Bacardi silver($), Zaya Dark Rum($$$) and Clement silver & Rhum Agricole($$$).
Whiskey: Maker’s Mark($$), Bulleit Bourbon($$), High West($$$), Basil Haydens($$$) or Jack Daniels($).
2) Specific Liqueurs (Cordials):
There are several flavors that are essential in basic drinks. You’ll want a variety of herbal, sweet and fruit flavored liqueurs. You’ll want a basic orange flavor, a different fruit flavor, a coffee flavor, a chocolate flavor and herb and nut flavors.
My suggestion(s) for
Orange Flavor: triple sec($), orange/blue curacao($), Aperol or Campari ($$), Cointreau($$$) or Grand Marnier($$$).
Other Fruit Flavor: Apple Liqueur($), Peach Schnapps($) or Chambord -Raspberry Liqueur ($$$).
Coffee Flavor: Kahlua($) or Sabra($$).
Chocolate flavor: Bailey’s($)
Herb & Nut: Martini & Rossi Dry & Sweet Vermouths($), St. Germaine Liqueur- Elderflower ($$$), Frangelico- Hazelnut($), Disoranno- Amaretto($$$) and Angostura Bitters($$$)
Mixers are extremely important because there are several drinks that are only one or two ingredients. The most important mixers are sugar, lemon juice, lime juice, and soda water. You can purchase most of those things at your local grocery store, but the fresh juices are always the best. So if you’re like me, get out that lemon juicer and juice!
Other optional juices and mixers are
Grenadine (Cherry flavor)
sweet and sour mix (if you don’t want to make it yourself)
recipe: 1 part simple syrup 1/2 part lemon juice 1/2 part lime juice.
simple syrup (if you don’t want to make it yourself)
recipe: 1 part water 1 part sugar, boil and mix until dissolved.
Coke, Diet Coke, Sprite, ginger ale, lemonade
Those are the easiest ingredients in a bar. As for equipment, I recommend a shaker with strainer (either on top or the additional piece is fine), a jigger for measuring, a muddler in case you want to mash up fruits, sugar, mint etc. in your cocktails and a long bar spoon for mixing. If you plan on having wine and beer in your bar, which I always recommend, you’ll need a wine key (cork screw) and perhaps a bottle opener if the cork screw doesn’t have one on it already.
Make sure to have ample glassware for your bar as well so as to not run out when you friends want drinks. Have this equipment in your bar, and you’ll look like a pro!