With everyone having to stay sequestered at home, people are finding that they need to be their own bartender. It’s hard, though, to determine where to begin with the process. People may wonder: Where do I begin? and Which liquors make the best drinks? The following is a list of must haves for a home bar, to make cocktails at home. You don’t have to get everything in one shopping trip, but rather you can build your collection over time.
When you are mixing cocktails, be okay with buying bottom (cheap) shelf and middle shelf options. You will save money and you aren’t likely to sacrifice much on taste. Even if the liquor you buy isn’t as tasty as some high-end options, you’re going to mix it anyway!
Whiskey- The classic brown spirit, whiskey is a wonderful drink for mixing. Whiskey is usually made from some sort of grains, most popularly corn.There are multiple types of whiskies including Scotch (which typically comes from Scotland) and bourbon, and American invention, both of which can make for a lovely cocktail. Some examples of whiskey-infused beverages include an Old-Fashioned, a Manhattan, and its counterpart a Rob Roy.
Rum- A favorite of lovers of tropical cocktails, this drink is derived from sugarcane molasses or fruit juice and it is made for more than just pirates. Like whiskey, there are multiple varieties of rum including dark and spiced and make popular beverages such as daquris, and the southern favorite, the Hurricane.
Gin- Gin is the funny clear beverage that is a refreshing option for summer, but has the taste of a Christmas tree. Like many spirits, it is made initially from fermented grains, but then is flavored with the flavors of juniper and other botanicals. Many cocktails are made with gin including the classic Martini, the Tom Collins, and the always classic gin-and-tonic.
Vodka- This young (in that it’s not often aged) liquor is versatile because of its general lack of flavor (outside of the multitude of flavored varieties on the market). Vodka can be made from a wide variety of things including grains, potatoes, and even fruit. Vodka is a key component of Cosmopolitans, Screwdrivers, and Moscow Mules
Tequila- Last but not least is the popular shooting drink from Mexico. Made from the blue agave plant, tequilas come in different options, including the blanco (white) variety, the reposado (which literally means “rested” or aged for up to a year). Tequila is the main ingredient in the wildly popular Margariita, the Mojito, and of course, the Tequila sunrise.
Mixers to keep around
Limes- These little green guys are a ubiquitous option for many cocktails, either for their citrusy juice or as a garnish, you can always find a home for limes when making cocktails.
Campari or Aperol- These are both apertifs (alcoholic beverages meant to be served before a meal to stimulate the appetite) that mix well with others. You can find both of them in Negronis and it’s cousin, the Boulevardier.
Bitters- Originally used for medicinal purposes, bitters are now used to balance out the flavor profile of a cocktail, especially ones that are sweet, to give them more complexity. Two popular brands include Angostura and Peychaud’s. Bitters are essential to Manhattans and Old Fashioneds.
So now you’re all set. Start with one or two liquors and find recipes that sound appealing to you and your (of age) loved ones. Have fun with your home bar and either try a ton of things or feel content with latching on to a core cocktail to make your evenings more enjoyable!
If you enjoyed these must haves for a home bar, check out these 11 steps to make the perfect cup of coffee!