Stocking a solid home bar takes a bit of planning, or lots of experimenting. I built my bar a few bottles at a time, but looking back it would have been nice to have a solid list. Here are my essentials that will make the majority of drinks on the menu.
- Kentucky Bourbon – A solid bourbon can be savored neat or mixed for any number of classic cocktails, like a simple and delicious Old Fashioned.
- Light Rum – This mild spirit is a great mixer to add a bit of sweet fortification to a drink without too much heavy flavor. Goes well with almost any mixer you'll find in your fridge.
- London Dry Gin – Warm weather in a glass. This botanical-infused spirit is light and refreshing, and pairs well with carbonated or tonic water.
- Vodka – There are dozens of drinks to be made from this staple spirit. Gives a cocktail body and texture without adding too much, which can help let more expensive, speciality spirits shine. Vodka can be taken over ice or mixed with soda to limit the headaches the following morning, but be careful as this almost flavorless brew can pack a massive punch.
- Blanco Tequila – A lot of great nights begin with a good pull of this pure, unaged tequila. Goes great with anything bright or bold, like a classic paloma or margarita, and the good times are bound to follow.
- Cointreau – The upper class of triple-sec, this citrus liquor is enjoyed as an apéritif and digestif, but also ups a whole host of classic cocktails.
- Vermouth – A wine fortified with botanicals, this is what you reach for when you want to make some classics like the Rob Roy or Negroni.
With these bottles stashed in your home bar, entertaining your guests will be a bit easier and a lot more fun. So, stock up and enjoy that drink from the comfort of your very own home bar.