Stocking for your own home bar.
- bar cart found at Dogwood Vintiques
- carafes from BarVino
- triple sec
- tonic water
- orange juice
- cranberry juice
- sour mix
- bloody mary mix
- bottle opener
- paring knife
When setting up your own home bar, you’ll want to mix up the best for yourself and your guests. But it can be hard knowing exactly what items to have on hand. We’ve teamed up with CITY’s Best bartender Faith Prenger, of Spectators, as she fills us in on how to be the best bar host.
Q: What are the essential things you need to have in your bar?
A: A shaker; corkscrew; glassware; shot glasses; bottle opener; beer; liquor; mixers; lime juice; towels; straws; bitters; a variety of garnishes (olives, lemon, limes); and a good paring knife.
Mix & Sip
Q: What types of alcohol and mixers are the most universal?
A: Your most universal liquors for your home bar are vodka, rum, gin, bourbon, triple sec, tequila, and scotch. You can splurge on some higher quality brands, or there is the option to infuse your liquors in a decanter with fruits, vegetables, and spices if you want to be creative in making your own flavors. No bar would be complete without a red and white wine option as well. For your mixers, you’ll want to stock up on 7 Up or Sprite, a cola of your preference, club soda, tonic water, orange juice, sour mix, cranberry, and bloody mary mix.
Serve it Chilled
Q: What are some fun ice cubes to use?
A: There are lots of fun and unique ice options available now, with everything from dollar signs to the
Death Star to dogs. I like spherical ice for drinking Jameson on the rocks, but I also have skull ice
molds at home.
Bitter and Sweet
Q: What are the best quality bitters and vermouth?
A: When selecting bitters and vermouth, it’s not as much about the quality, but more what kind of flavor undertones you’re looking for in your cocktail mix.
Vermouth has one main characteristic, much like Champagne — it’s either sweet or dry. Martini & Rossi carries both options and is a good quality for a reasonable price.
As far as bitters are concerned, there are several more options. The essential bitters to keep in your home bar are Angostura and Peychaud’s. Angostura bitters carry strong flavors of cinnamon and cloves. It’s great for making your traditional old-fashioned and Manhattan.
Peychaud’s, which carries a licorice flavor, also adds a sweet undertone to whiskey cocktails.
Focus on Functionality
Q: What do you look for when wanting to buy a good quality shaker, jigger, glasses, and bottle opener?
A: When purchasing barware, it’s best to look for functionality instead of aesthetics. For home use, shakers should be stainless steel, with the strainer built into the top for more functional and spill-free pouring. A corkscrew should be of good quality and sturdy. You don’t want a poor quality corkscrew where the cork ends up breaking in the bottle. The same goes for a bottle opener. I prefer a bone-shaped opener — it’s lightweight and works extremely well.
Bar glassware is more of a personal taste, subjective to the individual. I prefer stemless wineglasses and Champagne flutes, as there’s less likelihood of a spill. Having options for glassware is important. Some rocks glasses, tall Pilsner glasses or tumblers, martini glasses, and wine glasses are all pretty good staple options to keep in your home bar.
Keep everything versatile and organized with your own classic bar cart! Not only does this feature allow you to show off your spirits and glassware, but it also gives you a sense of style that nearly convinces your friends you’re a grown up.
With these tips in mind, remember it’s important to have fun with the process. The best part about a stocked bar is the variety. Don’t be afraid to experiment with new recipes or buy interesting bottles as you travel — a home bar is built to enjoy.