Liquors: Pick your favorite to start, and then add others over time.
- Whiskey, bourbon, rye
- Rum (light or dark)
- Tequila (white, gold, aged, extra-aged or ultra-aged)
Liqueurs: These add a secondary layer of flavor in many cocktails.
- Vermouth (dry and sweet)
- Orange-based liqueur, such as Cointreau or Triple Sec
- Herb-based spirits, such as Campari or Chartreuse
- Sweet liqueurs, such as creme de cacao or Kahlua
Bitters: A dash of bitters accents and adds depth to a cocktail.
- Aromatic bitters, such as classic Angostura or sweet, spicy Peychaud's
- Orange bitters
- Artisan bitters, innovative flavors abound
Spicy & Savory Flavors: Easy to have on hand and most keep for a long time.
- Hot sauces, such as Tabasco, green pepper sauce, Sriracha or other Asian chili sauces
- Worcestershire sauce
- Olive brine, pickle juice
- Tomato juice
Sweet & Sour Flavors: Personalize your cocktails with infused simple syrups, or make your own sour mix.
- Sugar (granulated, brown, cane)
- Simple syrup (plain or infused with herbs, spices or fruit)
- Sour mix
Fruit Juices: Freshly squeeze your citrus fruits for maximum flavor.
- Lemon juice
- Lime juice
- Orange juice
- Cranberry juice cocktail
- Pineapple juice
- Pomegranate juice
- Strong iced teas or tisanes
Carbonation: Buy sodas packaged in small bottles; a 2-liter bottle of soda may go flat between parties.
- Club soda
- Ginger ale
- Ginger beer
Garnishes: Precut slices or wedges of lemons and limes before the party, and have fun with inventive garnishes.
- Citrus twists
- Star fruit, pineapple, apple
- Fresh berries or currants
- Fresh herbs, such as mint or basil
- Maraschino cherries
- Olives, try different varieties or stuffed olives
- Cocktail onions, for Gibsons
- Celery, the quintessential Bloody Mary garnish
- Coarse salt
- Sugar cubes, for Manhattans
- Nutmeg, for grating on brandy Alexanders or eggnog
- Fun swizzle sticks, cocktail straws, spears for fruit garnishes
Tools of the Trade: These tools are essential to any well-stocked bar.
- Jigger measure
- Cocktail shaker
- Cocktail strainer
- Cocktail stirrer
- Bottle opener
- Small cutting board
- Hand-held fruit juicer
Make these fun cocktail recipes with your well-stocked bar: