The spirit moves in all things, to coin a phrase—and no bar is complete with spirits—or liquor. Let’s cover the basics of what every adequately stocked bar should have.
Vodka: Grey Goose or Ketel One are the high end top shelf brands. But Absolut or Smirnoff will do just fine for home bars.
Bourbon/Whiskey: The difference between bourbon and whiskey is where it’s made in America. That’s it. Whiskey made in Kentucky is Bourbon. Bookers and Blanton’s are high end Kentucky bourbons. Jack Daniels and Jim Beam are sufficient Tennessee whiskeys for a home bar.
Scotch: Still a whiskey but a bit different. Typically Scotch is aged longer in different barrels than whiskey. Johnny Walker Red is a great blended Scotch to keep in your bar. MaCallan 12 is an affordable, yet high end, single malt Scotch – made in Scotland.
Gin: Gotta have it. Bad gin might be the worst spirit of all. Spend the money on Tanqueray or Bombay Sapphire.
Tequila: There’s so many great options with tequila and perhaps one of the most intriguing summer time cocktail options. Keep some Cuervo Gold on hand for the shooters and margaritas. But, don’t hesitate to buy a Coralejo and keep it to serve over ice with a lime.
Rum: Captain Morgan’s for the college aged folks and Myers’ Dark for the more sophisticated Rum drinkers.
Liqueurs And Cordials
Sometimes referred to as an apertif and /or a digestive, liqueurs are often served after a meal in lieu of dessert. However, you will need some to use as mixers. In particular, Cointreau – an orange liqueur that makes a dang good margarita. You also need sweet and dry vermouth for Martinis.
No bar is complete without proper mixers. High end spirits can be sipped “neat” or without any other additions. But, most folks like to cut their liquor. Soda: Ginger ale, coke, sprite, tonic water, and soda water. There are now all kinds of fancy soda and sparkling water options that go great with clear liquor drinks. Fruit juice: OJ, cranberry, pineapple, grapefruit. Fresh squeezed lime juice is also a must. Garnishes: limes, lemons, maraschino cherries, onion cubes, olives, fresh mint, You’ll also need a margarita mix and a bloody mary mix. Both can be bought pre-made, but if you’re feeling bold, you can whip up each yourself and really impress the crowd. Add some simple syrup and ginger beer as well.
*If you wanna get fancy, add some fresh tarragon, rosemary, and CBD oil for the hip new kinds of cocktails.
High Balls: These are tall, slender glasses you can use for a most cocktails.
Rocks Glasses: Shorter tumblers used mostly for brown liquors served sans mixer.
Pint Glasses: Beers and doubles.
Shot Glasses: You all know what these are for.
Martini Glasses: Used for martinis, cosmos, and most any other cocktail that is served “up” or sans ice.
Shaker. Gotta have it. You need a quality metal shaker with a strainer. This is used to mix and shake your drinks. Some drinks are prepped in a glass, others in the strainer. Either way, it’s a bartender’s best friend. Can’t make a martini without it.
Towels: Bar towels are a must. Your hands will get wet and you will make a mess. While tending bar, keep one on your belt.
Strainer: See above. You will want to strain sediments or ice. Nothing better than a clean pour over through a strainer.
Bar spoon: Helps to mix things.
Muddler/Morter and Pestal: Sometimes you gotta muddle mint for juleps or mojitos, or old fashioneds.
Ice Scoop: And there you have it.
Clearly you’ll want some beer and wine options as well. This is just advice on getting the basics, and a tad more, of your bar ready for all your summer entertainment needs!