Going out to pubs and bars can be expensive, but that doesn’t mean you still can’t enjoy some of your favorite drinks while staying home and saving gas. With just a few supplies and a few liquors on hand you can entertain your friends at home and make most drinks just as well as a professional bartender and for a fraction of the cost.
First thing you want to think about is where to store your liquor and tools and how you’ll access them when guests come over. All of my supplies and bottles are kept in the cabinet above the sink, but any place will work for storage. Next is to select a staging area for the liquor. If you have an actual bar, that of course is the obvious choice, but since most people don’t have a bar a portion of the kitchen table or counter space works well too. I suggest you put your staging area close to any food you’re serving since most people congregate where the food is. It will keep the party social if you don’t have to leave your guests to mix their drinks. Lastly, if you have nowhere else to stage; a card table is a good option.
Bar tools are next, and while there are literally hundreds of items you could spend money on you really only need a few bar tools. First is something to mix drinks in, so a standard 28oz mixing tin and either a two- or four-pronged strainer will suffice for that. Next is a jigger to measure your liquor. Now, I can hear some of you grumbling when I mention this because we all want to look cool and free-pour serving consistently tasty drinks is of much higher priority. There really is nothing that will turn your guests off faster than a drink that doesn’t taste right because it is too heavy or light on the liquor. Later you can add to your stable of bar tools but the mixing tin, strainer and jigger will get you started.
Now we focus on the fun part, the liquor. Most bars have the same “well” of liquor which consist of gin, vodka, rum, whiskey, scotch, tequila and triple sec. Starting out, you don’t need all of these. My recommendation would be to purchase a bottle of vodka, gin, rum, and whiskey. Gin and Vodka are the most versatile liquors to have and because they’re virtually tasteless you can mix it with any juice as well as other liquors and liqueurs. Rum and whiskey are important for drinks that include cola. Scotch and tequila are really only necessary if you intend on drinking them straight, or you really are having a hankering for a margarita. And if a margarita is what you are after, you’ll need the triple sec as well.
Mixers are also important because you need something to go with the alcohol. I suggest cola, lemon-lime soda, orange juice, cranberry juice, and sweet and sour mix. National brands are not required here, which will save money.
The last thing that you will need is fruit for garnish. A lot of bartenders view garnish as something that’s unnecessary for a home bar but two things to keep in mind here. fruit is inexpensive and it adds that finishing touch to your drinks that will give them that extra pop to impress your guests.
So, now you have the basics to set up your own home bar. Bartending is about fun and creativity and as long as you remember to measure and keep your area clean your friends will be impressed.