Whether you entertain often or on occasion, having your own home bar can really make your guests feel like you've truly thought of everything. By simply stocking a few essential items and the right glassware, you’ll be mixing up great cocktails in no time, making you the party host of the season! Here is our guide to setting up your own home bar.
While having a standard piece of bar furniture looks great, you can easily create your bar in other small spaces around the home. A bar cart is a great idea for a beginner as it can be moved around the home or even taken outside for backyard entertaining. Consider clearing out some space such as your existing built-in cabinets or counter tops which can also make an attractive space to display your bar. Or another piece of furniture such as a bakers rack, china cabinet or shelf units can easily be repurposed. Check out some great home bar ideas we've pinned for inspiration.
The biggest question we’ve seen asked online about setting up a home bar is what alcohol should you stock? The answer is definitely not simple as it really comes down to your abilities as a home bartender and the choices you would like to offer your guests. While offering a large variety might seem like the way to go, keep in mind that you will be asked to actually make something with it. A good rule of thumb – if you don’t know what you would use it for, it’s probably not worth stocking.
Saying that, every home bar should not be without the more popular alcohols such as Vodka, Rum (both light and dark), Gin, Rye and your favorite Whiskey, which can all be kept for extended periods of time and do not require refrigeration. While you definitely don’t need to buy the most expensive brands on the market, stay away from the cheap stuff – serve what you yourself would drink.
In addition, ensure you always have wine and beer on hand. For wine, you can’t go wrong with a nice Merlot (red) and Chardonnay (white) which are mellow enough to be enjoyed by most. When it comes to beer, we recommend stocking 2-3 of your favorite brands, one of which should definitely be an import or craft beer.
Like alcohol, it’s best to stock mixes you can see yourself actually using. Once opened, mixes have a shelf life and usually require refrigeration. However when entertaining it’s hard to judge where everyone’s tastes lay and being a gracious host means having options on hand, especially for those looking for non-alcoholic beverages. Individual servings and cans are a great way to stock some mixes you might not personally use but want to have on hand for guests.
- Cola & diet Cola
- Soda Water
- Sprite or 7-up
- Ginger Ale
- Cranberry Juice
- Orange Juice
- Tomato Juice
- Iced Tea
Stocking your bar with the perfect glassware not only completes the look of the bar but gives your guests the added benefit of being able to taste their beverage the way it was meant to be enjoyed.
A beautiful collection to get your bar started is Luigi Bormioli Prestige Collection, which offers a selection of glassware perfect for home entertaining. Made in Italy, these eco-friendly glasses are dishwasher safe and come with an amazing 25 year Guarantee against chipping of the rim or foot as well as any discoloration due to automatic dishwashing
As your alcohol selection grows, so should your glassware. Have an area of your bar dedicated to displaying your glassware. It looks fantastic and also tells your guests that you’ve truly thought of everything.
GARNISHES AND OTHER INGREDIENTS
Finishing off the beverage with a garnish is that little extra touch to making the perfect drink. While having lemon twists on hand can look fantastic, even just making sure you have lemon & lime slices pre-cut can go a long way. Here are a few items you may want to consider having on hand:
- Lemon & Lime
- Cocktail Olives
- Cocktail Onions
- Tabasco Sauce
- Celery Salt
- Worchester Sauce
- Ice (and lots of it)
In addition, be sure to stock toothpicks, stir sticks, straws and cocktail napkins which will easily complete the look, feel and experience of your home bar.
If you are looking to expand your knowledge of drinks, alcohol and techniques, definitely pick up a bartending guide or better yet, take a class. Becoming a great home bartender is a wonderful hobby and of course, an easy way to wow your guests at your next event.