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A Guide to Stocking Your Home Bar

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If you have the space and you entertain there’s no excuse for not having a home bar. Even if you’re a teetotaler yourself you likely still have family members, friends, neighbors and colleagues who enjoy an adult beverage after dinner or during a summertime soiree. A home bar really amps up the collegial atmosphere during the holidays and is great for when you have your buddies over to watch the big game. So installing one (if you don’t have one already) is a no-brainer. Once you have the bar installed, however, the real work begins: stocking it.

From Cocktail Olives to Copper Mugs: Stocking the Home Bar

Having a home bar is one thing. Having a properly stocked home bar is something else altogether. Some folks have the keg and tap and a dusty old bottle of Southern Comfort under there somewhere. But we’re aspiring to a loftier standard. So let’s take a look at how to stock that new home bar of yours from the ground up.

Alcohol Essentials

  • Vodka - You can’t make a Moscow Mule without vodka and some copper mugs. So vodka leads the list here. Oh yeah, it’s also good for Bloody Marys, Screwdrivers, Vodka Martinis, Cosmopolitans and about 100 other cocktails. It’s in many ways the ideal liquor for mixing since there’s not much going on by way of taste, color or smell. The differences typically come down to texture with some vodkas being watery and some being more oily.
  • Bourbon - Whiskey can be made from corn, rye, barley, wheat and sorghum although bourbon is made primarily from corn. Bourbon is great for sipping and for mixing an array of cocktails. But most true bourbon drinkers aren’t going to mess around with no fancy pants cocktails. They want their bourbon straight up and hairy. So go grab some Jim Beam and Wild Turkey and give the people what they want.
  • Gin - Whether you’re making Tom Collins or classic Gin and Tonic a bar isn’t a bar without gin. There are 4 kinds of gin; Plymouth, Old Tom, London Dry and Genever. Most folks would start their bar with London Dry and move on from there as the need arose.
  • Scotch - True Scotch whiskey is made from malted barley with its recipe and creation actually laid down by law. That should give you some indication of how seriously Scotch drinkers take their favorite drink. It’s a manly beverage if ever there was one and you should try to have both a single malt scotch and blended scotch behind your bar to make sure you’re covered.
  • Rum - Rum is for mixing sweet tasting cocktails. It’s typically big in the summer and can be used to make more different types of mixed drinks than maybe any other type of liquor. The Atomic Drop, the Banana Kow and every cruise passenger’s favorite, the Strawberry Daiquiri. You should have both light and dark rum behind your bar before the summer starts.
  • Tequila This is another must-have liquor for summertime fun. There are different types of tequila and they’re used for different purposes. Gold tequila is commonly used for mixed drinks since it’s a little less expensive. If you’re doing tequila shots though you’re probably going to want something high end like Cazadores.
  • Misc Alcoholic Beverages - You’ll want to have a keg setup in place for the 4th of July and other big summer bashes. You’ll also want a selection of favorite beers along with a few craft beers just to keep things interesting. You’ll also want to have a fair number of non-alcoholic drinks on hand for designated drivers or just people who don’t imbibe. They’re guests too and should be treated as such.

Mixers - Now that your bar is fully stocked with a generous assortment of liquors you’ll need something to mix them with so here are some mixers we’d recommend any serious barkeep have on hand.

  • Club soda
  • Tonic water
  • Ginger ale
  • 7-up
  • Cola
  • Tomato juice
  • Orange juice
  • Cranberry juice
  • Pineapple juice
  • Bitters

Garnishes - Even frosty Moscow Mules in beautiful copper cups need garnishes. You can’t really call your drinks ready for consumption unless they’re properly finished. So here are some of the garnishes we’d make sure were on hand before any big bash.

  • Lemons and limes
  • Cocktail olives
  • Cocktail onions
  • Tabasco sauce
  • Horseradish
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Sugar

Drinking Vessels - Sure you could serve your Scotch in a beer mug but that’s like serving steak in a cereal bowl. You want to have the right vessels for the right drinks. The good news is that none of these glasses etc are all that expensive and when racked above the bar they make the whole setup look great.

  • Wine glasses
  • Martini glasses
  • Highball glasses
  • Beer mugs
  • Shot glasses
  • Moscow Mule mugs
  • Rocks glasses
  • Pint glasses

How about other assorted accoutrement? We’re glad you asked.

  • Martini shaker
  • Toothpicks
  • Napkins
  • Coasters
  • Stirrers
  • Colorful drink umbrellas
  • Peanut bowl

But That’s Not All

You’re also going to want a good recipe book with the latest most popular drinks in it as well as all the classics. Since no 2 such books are ever exactly the same collect a bunch and make use of them all. You’re also going to want some nice art behind the bar. Classic movie and sports posters are always good. Travel images are good too. It depends on the mood you’re trying to set. If you’re really going for a sophisticated look you can hang a couple of mosaic pendant lamps over the bar or a mosaic table lamp on the bar itself.

Finally you’re going to want to be sure you have at least a couple of bar stools that are reflective of the people who’ll be frequenting your domestic establishment. Younger folks can deal with classic no back stools just fine. While for a slightly older crowd you might want to consider bar stools with backs and armrests.

Follow the above tips and your new bar will be a magnet during parties, bbqs and family get togethers. If you need some copper mugs to complete your home bars check out our huge assortment. Let the fun begin!


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