Your Home Bar Checklist
Setting up a home bar can a lot of fun, both while you’re doing it and when you’re using it. You can be as creative with it as you want, depending on your style, whether or not you want a bar for parties or personal use, and what kinds of alcohol you’re looking to keep in it.
A home bar is especially great to have when you are entertaining and have groups of people in your home. It’s more presentable and refined than just having a table with alcohol and cups on it.
There is one general rule of thumb to follow, which is that you should have a variety of alcohol available for all of your guests. Typically, people will have at least one bottle of each of the most common alcohols, which we will discuss later.
Take your time setting up your home bar, and enjoy the process of setting it up and making it your own. See below for a quick and easy checklist to go through when setting up a fully stocked home bar.
Your checklist is as follows:
- An assortment of alcohols
- Drinkware and bar tools
- Recipes of a few cocktails to memorize
Obviously, we’ll get into some specifics here, including the types of alcohol you should have on hand, as well as the types of drinkware and tools you’ll need to keep behind your bar. It also can’t hurt to consider having a few cocktail recipes ready to go, depending on what alcohols you’re keeping in stock.
What Alcohol Should I Have In My Home Bar
You can’t please everyone when it comes to alcohol. Some people are particular and only drink certain brands or certain types of alcohol. Some people are allergic to certain grains or fruits, and some people have hangover memories associated with some liquors and refuse to drink them. Don’t worry about this because, thankfully, it’s a small group of people who fall into the picky and particular category.
First things first, make sure you have your favorite alcohol on hand. It is your bar, after all, and you should be able to enjoy it as much as your guests. Your bar doesn’t need to have the most expensive or rare alcohol you can find. Keep it simple and within whatever your budget is. It is safe to say most people are fans of at least one of the five most common alcohols: tequila, vodka, whiskey, gin, and rum.
If you have two brands for each of these types, you’ll be in great shape. There are other common varieties of alcohol, such as bourbon and scotch, but these aren’t commonly asked for when guests are at a house party. On the other hand, if your preferred alcohol is bourbon or scotch, you should definitely have a bottle of your favorite kind ready to offer to guests to sample.
Besides these hard liquors, you should also consider other alcoholic beverages that people might enjoy besides cocktails. If you have a fridge in your home bar, you should keep beer, wine, and maybe champagne or sparkling wine in it. Two kinds of beer (preferably two very different kinds), a bottle of red and a bottle of white, and one or two bottles of sparkling wine are more than sufficient.
Even if people don’t want these beverages, it’s so convenient to simply have everything you could possibly need ready to go. That way, you know your bar is stocked, and you won’t have to buy everything each time you go to restock the bar.
What Drinkware And Tools Should I Have On Hand?
This is an often overlooked step when it comes to having a fully stocked home bar. You’ve got every kind of alcohol you could find ready to go for your party. That’s great, but how are you going to serve these drinks?
You’ve got to have a few essential items on hand in order for things to go smoothly. First and foremost, make sure you have a bottle opener for beer. You’ll also need a wine opener. You don’t need anything fancy, like an expensive automated remover, but tools like these can be fun if you’re a frequent wine drinker. Even if you get a two-in-one bottle and a wine opener, that’s all you really need.
For most, if not all, cocktail recipes, you will need a shaker and a strainer. This is to ensure your drinks are fully blended, and people aren’t sipping on fruit juice with alcohol sitting at the bottom.
It makes the drink taste better every single time you use it. Plus, with the strainer, you can make sure you don’t get pulp or anything else in the drink if you use fresh juices. It also makes pouring the drinks much easier and way less messy.
You will also need specific types of drinkware to have in your bar. Just to have on hand, four to six of each type of glass is good. For larger parties, you may want to get more plastic versions of these glasses.
For beer, you’ll need either mugs or tall beer glasses. For standard wines, you will need slimmer glasses for white and glasses with a wider bowl for red. When it comes to sparkling wines and champagne, you will need flutes (or traditional champagne glasses, which have a more vintage feel).
You will need martini glasses for gin or vodka martinis and similar cocktails such as Cosmopolitans. Lastly, for most other cocktails, tumblers or highball glasses will work well.
What Are Some Drink Recipes I Should Master?
There’s no point in having a fully stocked bar at home if you don’t know how to use it. Whether you’re having a party or just a night in, knowing how to make the perfect cocktail is essential. You’d never want to have guests over and just send them behind the bar to make something themselves.
Having a few cocktail recipes up your sleeve is both impressive and shows good hosting etiquette. We’re not saying you need to take a mixology course or shadow a professional bartender, but pick a few recipes you’ll be able to memorize.
There are countless cocktail recipes, but you’ll be fine if you stick with one or two recipes for the types of alcohol that you keep stocked.
That way, you’ll have something for everyone. Plus, it’s fun to be behind the bar taking orders. Your guests are guaranteed to be impressed. Below, a recipe for five cocktails you should master.
- A Margarita: Tequila is great because you really can mix it with most fruit juices and call it a day. But the one cocktail you need to know how to make is a good margarita. You will need tequila blanco, fresh lime juice, lime wedges, triple sec, and salt. Combine the liquids in a shaker and pour over ice. Salt the rim and add a lime wedge for good measure.
- Vodka Martini– A vodka martini is elegant and easy to make. You need vodka and vermouth, which you add to the shaker. Garnish with either a lemon twist or olives.
- Old Fashioned – While some people prefer to sip their whisky neat, there is a cocktail that’s simple enough to impress whisky lovers of all kinds. Try the Old Fashioned: combine whiskey, bitters, a pinch of sugar, and pour over ice. Top it off with an orange wedge.
- Negroni– A Negroni is a classic gin cocktail, both simple and sophisticated. Strain gin, vermouth, and Campari over ice. Squeeze a dash of juice from a fresh orange, and garnish with a wedge.
- Mojito– When it comes to rum, many people might associate it with being drunk on a tropical vacation. Create a new association for them with a standard mint mojito. All you need is rum, a splash of club soda, fresh mint, and lime. Muddle the mint, then add your liquids and top with a squeeze of fresh lime.
These are five classic, simple recipes that everyone is sure to love, no matter what their typical drink order may be. Another really cool idea is to create a signature cocktail for your home bar that you offer to guests when they come over, especially if it’s for a special occasion. Make it with your favorite alcohol and experiment with flavors and garnishes.
Your checklist for a fully stocked home bar includes a variety of alcohols, tools, and drinkware, and mastering a few cocktail recipes. You should have the five common types of alcohol, including tequila, gin, vodka, rum, and whisky, as well as a small selection of beer, wine, and champagne. Make sure you have the proper tools (bottle openers, etc.) and appropriate glasses and drinkware for each type of alcohol you have in your home bar.