Not everyone is a cocktail or hard liquor person. Believe it or not, there are plenty of people out there who would much rather drink beer and wine forever rather than experiment with the delicious flavors, mixtures, and elements of spirits and mixed drinks.
For those individuals, life is incredibly easy. At every party, every restaurant, every picnic, every fishing trip, and every family reunion, they know that they will have their drink of choice on offer. If you’re a spirit lover, well, you may need to do some advance planning to ensure your drink of choice is on hand.
Enter: the home bar. Having a home bar was once an essential aspect of entertaining, allowing you to pour drinks for visitors at a moment's notice. As time has gone on and beer and wine have grown more commercially available, home drinking habits have changed.
When you have a home bar, you are able to easily prepare hundreds of craft drinks from home at a fraction of the price you’d pay at a bar. Imagine how much better your drinks could be at home for guests and for yourself!
Here’s a starter guide to stocking your home bar so that everyone can have a drink that they love, quickly and easily.
What Are Home Bar Essentials?
There are many items you’ll need to complete your home bar so that you can make any drink you could dream about. These include tools and equipment, mixers, alcoholic ingredients, and bottles of spirits. Together, these elements make up your home bar.
Keep in mind that you don’t need to start your home bar off right away with everything in the entire world. Trying to cover all of your bases at once can be a big (and expensive) project. Instead, make sure that you start off with the essentials for a few drinks that you like
You can slowly expand outward from there as you see how fun mixing drinks can be. This will give you access to what you like first on an affordable basis while leaving you room to complete your bar over time.
Let’s take a closer look at these primary categories and what you need to make your home bar functional.
What Are Essential Home Bar Tools and Equipment?
While you can have a home bar that is simply glasses and bottles of liquor, you’d miss out on the joys of mixed drinks. In order to make drinks in a sanitary, fun, and safe way you’re going to need the right tools and equipment.
Your most important element is a cocktail shaker. Not every cocktail is shaken — some are simply stirred — but some cocktails need that shake to develop the right texture and dilution.
There are two types of shakers that you’ll see most commonly: cobbler shakers and Boston shakers. Some people have strong opinions about which is better, but whichever you find easiest and most enjoyable to use will be the best choice for you.
You should also have a jigger, a specialized measuring tool for bartending. A jigger is a double-sided measuring cup, with one side measuring an ounce and the other two ounces of one and a half ounces (depending on the style and manufacturer).
You don’t need to have a jigger specifically, but you should have measuring devices that can measure half, quarter, three-quarter, and ounce liquid measurements.
On top of this, it’s helpful to have a citrus juicer if you plan to juice fruits fresh for mixed drinks. A cutting board and knife can also be juicing essentials.
Ice is a must-have, and you’ll want several different-sized glasses. While you don’t need to have a set of bar glasses with every shaped cocktail glass, it can be fun to up your presentation — but any cups will do.
What Are Essential Home Bar Mixers?
Now that you have the equipment you need for your home bar, it’s time to add mixers. While there are plenty of delicious cocktails that are made without mixers — and you can always enjoy nice liquor on the rocks — most cocktails are going to require some sort of non-alcoholic ingredient, known as a mixer.
The most important of these non-alcoholic ingredients is simple syrup, a one-to-one syrup of sugar to water. You can make this at home or purchase a store-bought variety, but simple syrup is going to be used in most cocktails you mix up as a sweetener.
You should also prepare to go through a lot of citrus juices. Squeezing your lemons and limes fresh for every drink is ideal but a lot of effort. Still, if you are going to buy a bottle at least be sure to get a high-quality, natural lemon or lime juice. It’ll make a big difference!
Beyond those basics, the only mixers you need to have at your bar are the ones you need to make the drinks you like the most. The more extensive your mixers are the more creative your drinks can be, but oftentimes the classic mixers have become classic because they taste the best when mixed with alcohol. It can be as simple as that for a delicious cocktail.
What Bottles Do I Need to Stock My Home Bar?
The final question left to answer for your home bar is which bottles of liquor and alcohol you need to have a stocked home bar. For the most basic beginning setup, your bar should include at least three or four of the five most popular liquors: vodka, gin, rum, tequila, and whiskey.
With one bottle of a nice (but not super expensive) bottle of each, you have the ingredients necessary to make many of the classics.
If you’re looking for a delicious whiskey to stock your home bar with, Oak & Eden should be the first place you look. Our Inspired Series of whiskies is a collection of classic whiskies from bourbon to rye and even four-grain whiskey — with a twist.
Oak & Eden uses first-in-the-industry technology through our in-bottle finishing technique in every bottle of whiskey. Each bottle contains a Spire, a specially selected and toasted spiral cut piece of wood that finishes the whiskey in the bottle, adding flavors and notes to your whiskey. Any of our Inspired Series whiskies will make a wonderful addition to your home bar.
Beyond basic liquors, some popular liquors and other alcoholic ingredients to grab include bitters, sweet and dry vermouth, Aperol, curacao, a triple sec, and whatever else you like to drink. Think: flavored liquors and all sorts of schnapps and liqueurs.
At the end of the day, your home bar should cater to your personal tastes and the general tastes of the public. When you are first starting out, it is okay to have a limited bar selection. As you continue to invest in expanding your home bar you’ll have more options to experiment. It can be expensive all at once, there’s nothing wrong with starting off small.
If you want to enjoy delicious cocktails and liquor straight or on the rocks at home, then a home bar is the right move for you. If you want to start a home bar, however, you may have a lot of confusion about how to get yourself started.
Getting your home bar started and stocked is simple, all you need to do is gather three things: your equipment, your mixers, and your bottles. If you get all three of these set up to your liking, you have a functional home bar.
Make sure you have the essential equipment like a cocktail shaker and jigger, as well as a juicer for citrus and a cutting board. You’re also going to need to get the essential mixers, like simple syrup as well as lemon and lime juice. Beyond that, consider anything non-alcoholic that you might like to put in a cocktail as a potential candidate to stock for your bar.
Finally, bottles of alcohol should start with a few of the five cardinal liquors - vodka, gin, rum, whiskey, and tequila. A delicious whiskey option for your home bar is our Oak & Eden Inspired Series of whiskies. Whether you prefer bourbon, rye, wheat, or four grain as your go-to whiskey, we have options that you will love on their own or in a cocktail.
Stocking your home bar doesn’t have to be complicated, and it doesn’t have to be expensive or overwhelming. Start small with the ingredients for a few drinks you like, and slowly expand your bar outward. Cheers!
Cocktail Science: 8 Tips and Tricks For Getting the Most Out of Citrus | The Spruce Eats
Essential Liquors and Mixers to Stock in Your Home Bar | The Spruce Eats