There comes a time in every Whiskey Woman’s life where she needs to start curating her own home bar.
This task often seems incredibly daunting, perhaps even frightening. Daunting because you honestly have no idea where to start, and frightening because, well, it’s probably going to be rather expensive. However, I am here to help you face this momentous time in your life with some advice and guidance on how to go about setting up your very own home bar. Together, ladies, we shall conquer this.
I’m going to break it down into two parts: tools and tipples.
First up, The Tools of the Trade
I’ll list your home bar tools in order of most to least important. The first few are all equally important (because it you can’t shake or stir a cocktail, what’s the point in getting to tipples?).
- Cocktail shaker (Check out this and this).
- Mixing glass
- Strainer (Hawthorne or Julep)
- Bottle opener
- Wine key
- Peeler/channel knife
- Paring knife
- Citrus press
- Double strainer
For first time bar supplies, I would check out barsupplies.com. If you’re looking to spoil yourself or give a badass gift, definitely take a look at cocktailkingdom.com has to offer. I’m not really allowed to look at their page in public anymore, I am currently swooning over the copper collection. Sex in the form of a bar spoon.
Another secondary element to the tools portion is glassware. I’m a vintage glassware hoarder, although I am still seeking out a pair of copper mugs for some real Moscow Mules. I have collected some badass stemware over the years and most of it has come from a thrift store. There. You have my secret. If I can’t find anymore cool glasses in shops around here, I’m hunting all of you down.
Okay then, moving along…
Time for Tipples
Now onto the much more difficult and expensive part – the actual booze. As you begin to stock your bar, start with what matter’s most at home, and that is what you like. Creating a collection of rare whiskies and obscure liqueurs is what your favorite high end bar is for, but when you’re at home start with what you want to drink.
Square one, bourbon, gin and vodka. Next, move into vermouth, a dry and a rouge. Remember! Vermouth is wine based and once you have cracked the seal on one of those bad boys, make sure to store it in the fridge for optimum lifespan.
Then, take a look at other cordials. Campari and a reputable orange liqueur are very good starting points. You’ll also need to invest in some bitters. Angostura to start, Peychaud’s to follow that up and maybe even some orange bitters if you are feeling frisky.
After that, consider covering the rest of your booze territory with a good bottle of both white and aged rum, some tequila, a scotch and a brandy.
The hardest thing to keep consistently stocked will always be mixers, so be mindful of who your guests are. Having some lemons, limes and oranges on hand will get you very far. If you have soda, I would suggest making sure to keep gingerale, tonic and soda well-stocked. While you’re at it, make a batch of simple syrup to store in the fridge as well. Combine equal parts sugar and water, stir, boil and voila – simple syrup!
At this point you’ve got what you need to make several classics ranging from a Daiquiri or a Manhattan to a Gin Fizz or a Tom Collins.
Once you’ve covered the basics, start building for specific cocktails. If you want to make Corpse Revivers, grab a bottle of Lillet and some absinthe. Next, look at the Last Word and grab some Maraschino Liqueur and Chartreuse.
The best and worst thing about a home bar is that it is up to you. So get to stocking!
Obviously, we suggest starting with a good bottle of whiskey!