By Nancy Mattia, CTW Features
If entertaining family and friends in your home is part of your post-pandemic social plan, serving celebratory drinks from a home bar would be a nice touch. But if you’re more accustomed to buying six packs than spirits, you may be wondering what should you get, and how much to spend. What mixers complement which types of liquor?
Since building a home bar is pricey it’s best to take your time. Guests won’t expect your work-in-progress to match the offerings of an established restaurant; in fact, most people will gladly drink whatever you’re serving. So, gradually accumulate bottles, one at a time, and think about where you’ll put them—in a cabinet or cart, or perhaps on a table. Check out these tips on the essentials of an at-home bar:
To lay the foundation for a home bar, you’ll want your first purchases to cover all the spirits categories: Scotch, vodka, gin, tequila, bourbon, and rum. Eventually, you’ll want to add brandy, sweet and dry vermouth, and several liqueurs. By stocking up on these spirits, you’ll be able to make most drinks, from vodka on the rocks to a margarita. (Be sure your purchases reflect the ingredients needed to make your own favorite cocktails.)
Buy the best quality spirits you can afford. That doesn’t mean they have to be the most expensive. Quality is what counts. And remember you can always upgrade later if your budget gets more significant.
Most cocktails require a mixer or two so be sure to have the basic ones on hand. If you have club soda, tonic water, and ginger ale you can make drinks such as mojitos (rum and club soda), gin and tonics, and Dark and Stormy (rum and ginger ale). Other mixers are fruit-based: orange juice, which pairs nicely with champagne or sparkling wine for mimosas, and cranberry juice to make Cape Cods, which you mix with vodka. Have a small pitcher of water on the bar for drinks like Scotch and water and wine spritzers. Offer iced tea and soda for guests who prefer non-alcoholic beverages.
To add fresh flavor to citrus-based drinks, head to the produce section of your grocery store for lemons, limes, and oranges. They’re integral to classic libations like Cosmopolitans (made with lime juice) and Lemon Drops (lemon juice).
There are a lot of fancy contraptions but as a bar newbie, all you need for now is a corkscrew and bottle opener. To prevent over- and underpouring, have a jigger at the ready-to-measure spirits you’ll pour into a glass. You can also find affordable cocktail shakers online and in many department and home stores.
Rather than get a dozen different types of glasses, stick with these three for all your glassware needs a curvy coupe (good for daiquiris, margaritas, Manhattans), tall and skinny highballs (gin and tonics, Tom Collins, Long Island Iced Teas), and short old-fashioned glasses (Negronis, White Russians).