The idea of starting your first home bar can be daunting: First, there’s the question of where to put it all. We are partial to the top of our fridge, bookshelf, or, if we could have our way all the time, a vintage bar cart to satisfy all our wildest 1950s fantasies. Next, the question of how you’re supposed to afford all of it anyway. Well, here’s the truth: Consuming liquor at home is a heck of a lot cheaper than paying for it at a bar, so you’re actually doing yourself a favor in the long run. (Right?)
Who are we kidding – the main reason you should have a home bar is because you will reach peak adulting goals with a well-curated selection of booze you can nonchalantly gesture to while asking your guests if they’d like a cocktail, preferably whilst wearing a smoking jacket.
To get started, what you need is one bottle of each type of basic spirit, a vermouth and a bottle of bitters. That’s it. Think of building your first bar like writing the outline of a speech – you want to be sure to hit the main points but have the freedom to improvise when inspiration strikes.
The foundation of your bar should include the following:
Bottle Of Gin
Find one that is good enough to sip on its own (yes! straight gin is good on ice!) but also subtle enough to be mixed into cocktails, like Ransom dry gin. Plus, that gorgeous bottle will stand out like a jewel in your collection.
Bottle Of Rum
Some would argue you don’t need a rum, but if you want to make a Mojito, Daiquiri, Piña Colada, Dark n’ Stormy… see where we’re going with this? Our favorite is California Agricole Rum. Totally refreshing. Vacation in a glass.
Bottle Of Tequila
If you're in New York, you can stop by our Indie Spirits + Wine Gallery (we sell two tequilas and five mezcals), but if you're out of state, ask your local liquor store guy what he recommends. There's no question you need it for shots and margs.
Bottle Of Whiskey
Don’t skimp here – there’s nothing worse than a bad bottle o’ brown. We love High West’s Campfire Whiskey, a blend of bourbon, rye and scotch, which makes it excellent in a variety of cocktails.
Bottle Of Sweet, Red Vermouth
You need sweet vermouth for a Manhattan and Negroni (two cocktails we all should master, ASAP), and there’s none we like better than Vya’s. We also like to sip it on its own, on a fat ice cube garnished with an orange peel.
Bottle Of Bitters
Simply put, this bottle of aromatic bitters from Hella Bitter is the only one we keep in our bar. Bonus: Ate too much at dinner? Add a few dashes to a glass of seltzer and you’ll soon be re-set for dessert.
In terms of bar tools, these are the workhorses (which we carefully chose to be durable and beautifully designed, so your bar can look good down to the very last detail):
Bar spoon, for stirring
Cocktail jigger, for measuring
Cocktail shaker (ours is built with a strainer – if you purchase one without, you should buy a strainer separately)
Muddler, for releasing the essence of fruits and herbs
Although ecclectic mixers, liqueurs, brandy’s and flavored bitters are great for the seasoned mixologist, when building your first bar those ingredients can become overwhelming. Before you know it you’ll have a million little bottles you only used once.
Once you have a home bar, you’re going to feel super fancy and will want to treat yourself and your friends every night of the week.
So, we’ll see you at five?