How to Stock a Home Bar

A great cocktail is like a fine meal—you need a recipe, the proper tools, and the freshest ingredients.

Anyone can mix a vodka tonic, but a great cocktail is like a fine meal—you need a recipe, the proper tools, and the freshest ingredients. With all that on hand, you'll dazzle your friends when they stop by for drinks.
Read a good book.
A cocktail recipe book can quickly teach you how to make a wide variety of drinks, so you don't have to rely on serving rum and Cokes. I like The Craft of the Cocktail by Dale Degroff (Clarkson Potter) and The Joy of Mixology by Gary Regan (Clarkson Potter).
Buy the tools.
The cocktail shakers you get at Pottery Barn may look good, but they're too small. Instead, get a real bartender's shaker. It looks like a beer glass with a metal cup on the end. (You pour the drink into the metal part if you're shaking it, and the glass if you're stirring it.) You'll also need a long bar spoon, a hawthorn strainer (it has metal coils and is used for shaken drinks), a julep strainer (slotted, for stirred drinks), a jigger (it looks like a metal hourglass and measures ounces), a citrus handpress (since you won't consider bottled juice), and a wooden muddler (a pestle that mashes up mint for mojitos, strawberries for daiquiris, and so on). You can pick up everything at
Get the hard stuff.
Lay in a basic supply of hard liquor. I recommend Plymouth gin, Herradura Silver tequila, Woodford Reserve whiskey, Rhum Barbancourt, Hine H cognac, and Martini & Rossi sweet vermouth. There's no need for expensive vodka. It's a simple, tasteless spirit; the recent explosion of fancy vodkas is just clever marketing. Smirnoff mixes well and isn't overpriced.

Stock secondaries.
Be prepared to spend money on good liqueurs, because almost any decent cocktail calls for at least one. If you have Cointreau, Campari, Aperol, Luxardo Maraschino, Chartreuse, orange bitters, and Angostura Bitters, you'll have a very well-stocked bar.
Set it up
Almost any drink you make will work in one of three basic glasses—martini glasses (for cocktails without ice), short glasses (for neat or rocks drinks), and tall glasses (for drinks with a higher proportion of mixers, like a Tom Collins or a daiquiri).


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Lifestyle Magazine: How to Stock a Home Bar
How to Stock a Home Bar
A great cocktail is like a fine meal—you need a recipe, the proper tools, and the freshest ingredients.
Lifestyle Magazine
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