How to stock a home bar
Beer and wine are great, but some parties call for cocktails. Here's what you'll need to stock a basic liquor cabinet for mixing up some great cocktails.
Are you planning on entertaining friends and family this season? Why not step up your game a notch and serve cocktails instead of the usual beer and wine?
It's easy to stock a basic bar with the essentials you will need to make many of the most popular cocktails for your guests.
Step 1: Stock up on hard liquor
You should have some basic hard liquors on hand: brandy, gin, vodka, whiskey (bourbon, Irish, Scotch), tequila and rum (light and dark).
Step 2: Add complementary liqueurs
This category includes so many options, but these basics are a good starting place: vermouth (both dry and sweet), coffee liqueur, triple sec, various flavored schnapps and amaretto.
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Step 3: Mix it up with mixers
Basic mixers you should have on hand include club soda, tonic water, ginger ale, cola (regular and diet), lemon-lime soda, tomato juice and cranberry juice.
Step 4: Gather your garnishes
Some drinks just aren't finished without a special garnish — think martinis and olives. Make sure you have a variety of garnishes available behind the bar, including lemons, oranges, maraschino cherries, cocktail olives, celery stalks, sugar, coarse salt, cocktail onions, aromatic bitters, orange bitters, Tabasco sauce and Worcestershire sauce.
Step 5: Find your inspiration
Once you have all of the ingredients, you will need some inspiration (and recipes). This Easy Cocktails book from Barnes & Noble ($16) has all of the traditional cocktails and many of the more modern versions.
Step 6: Buy some tools of the trade
This recipe glass cocktail shaker from Pottery Barn ($35) is not only great for shaking drinks, but it has recipes right on the side for easy mixing.
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Other bar tools to buy
Cocktail mixing is not as easy as pouring a beer into a pint glass. But having the proper tools makes it look easy to your guests.
This Cabana bar set from ZGallerie ($45) includes a two-measure jigger, bottle-opener, corkscrew and citrus strainer.
This silicone and stainless steel muddler from Crate and Barrel ($13) is a must-have when making mojitos or lemon drops, and can also be used to stir drinks.
What's a home bar without ice? This 4-quart ice bucket by Oxo from Bed, Bath & Beyond ($50) keeps ice cold and ready for those on-the-rocks requests.
Invite your friends, cue up your playlist and serve some amazing cocktails at your next gathering. Your guests may not even miss the beer.