COCKTAIL HOUR: stocking a home bar

bar cart.

If there’s one thing every good party needs, it’s a well-stocked bar. Having the right liquors, mixers and fresh ingredients can make the difference between a great cocktail party and a total bust, so it’s best to have the essentials handy before you even think about inviting guests over for drinks.

stock the necessities.

The first thing you need to consider is the liquor. Stock your favorites, but have some premium quality liquors on hand, including vodka, dark and light rum, bourbon, tequila, gin and orange liqueur. With these staples, you’ll be able to field almost any cocktail request.

And, when it comes time to purchase your liquors, remember that quality always trumps quantity.

wine and beer.

On average, you should have a white wine and a red wine, with champagne only for special occasions. Stick with a crisp chardonnay, and a Cabernet or Pinot Noir.

Keep two different types of beer in your bar. For parties, stocking a light and a regular beer is your best bet. Pick popular or common beers, such as Budweiser, Coors, Miller, Heineken, etc.

the mixers.

Before any party, you’ll want to stock up on basic mixers and any garnishes required for the cocktails you are planning to make. To keep things simple, you may want to offer your guests a few limited specialty cocktails as well as an assortment of basic drinks. Basic essentials include:

  • Club soda
  • Juice (orange, cranberry and pineapple)
  • Soft drinks (cola, lemon-lime and ginger ale)
  • Tonic water

To expand your repertoire of available cocktails, add:

  • More juices (tomato, grapefruit and lime)
  • Sour mix
  • Bitters
  • Grenadine
  • Simple syrup
  • Vermouth
  • Tabasco Sauce

Finally, consider including some spices and garnishes for any specific cocktails you want to make. These can include:

  • Fruit wedges (lemon, lime, orange)
  • Maraschino cherries
  • Olives
  • Whipped cream
  • Nutmeg
  • Coarse salt and super-fine sugar (for coating glass rims)

the barware.

Having a well stocked bar with alcohol and mixers really means nothing if you aren’t equipped with the right gear. The equipment needed to mix a cocktail is simple to master, and you don’t need a lot of it. These are the tools that are going to help you impress your guests:

  • Corkscrew
  • Cocktail shaker
  • Bottle opener
  • Jigger
  • Citus zester
  • Muddler
  • Bar spoon
  • Napkins
  • Straws
  • Knife and cutting board
  • Ice bucket and ice

Mr. Boston’s official bartenders guide it the ultimate recipe book. Keep this on hand so you’re never caught feeling like a rookie.

the glassware.

Since the shape and volume of the glass can affect the taste of a beverage, every type of drink deserves its own glass. Keep in mind you only need the basics:

  • Old Fashioned
  • Highball
  • Coupe
  • Martini
  • Wine

Stocking these tools, liquors and mixers for your bar will guarantee that you can cover almost any drink someone requests, as well as your own favorites. Set up your bar area in a corner of your kitchen or in a large cupboard so you can access it easily.


with love,