High-end, underlit, swanky joints and well-worn, leathery pubs alike have it in common: a lot of bottles of spirits. On first glance, even the smallest restaurant with a liquor license will seem to have just a few selections, but start counting, and you'll realize that most bartended spots have, on average, around 35-40 bottles, with many going up to into the hundreds.
For the home mixmaster, that can be intimidating. You're interested in creating classic and contemporary cocktails alike, but have neither the budget, the space, nor the use for even an average restaurant-style selection.Turns out, you don't need one, either. Armed with a mere twelve bottles and a small selection of mixers, you can basically whip up most of what you'll need, and reserve those special liqueurs and such for when you really wanna get inventive.
Nancy Mitchell of the Backyard Bartender has assembled a great list for starting a "twelve bottle bar" for the Kitchn.