A Man's Guide to Stocking a Cocktail Bar

Start your at-home bar with the basics, and build from there. Assess your bar supplies each season and before you have guests.
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Martini

Photo by: Lisa Wilder

Lisa Wilder

Martini

Liquors: Pick your favorite to start, and then add others over time.

  • Gin
  • Rum
  • Tequila (white, gold, aged, extra-aged or ultra-aged)
  • Whiskey, bourbon, rye
  • Vodka

 

Liqueurs: These add a secondary layer of flavor in many cocktails.

  • Herb-based spirits, such as Campari or Chartreuse
  • Orange-based liqueur, such as Cointreau or Triple Sec
  • Sweet liqueurs, such as creme de cacao of Kahlua
  • Vermouth (dry and sweet)

 

Bitters: A dash of bitters accents and adds depth to a cocktail.

  • Aromatic bitters, such as classic Angostura or sweet, spicy Artisan bitters, innovative flavors abound
  • Orange bitters
  • Peychaud's

 

Spicy & Savory Flavors: Easy to have on hand and most keep for a long time.

  • Horseradish
  • Hot sauces, such as Tabasco, green pepper sauce, Sriracha or other Asian chili sauces
  • Olive brine, pickle juice
  • Tomato juice
  • Worcestershire sauce

 

Sweet & Sour Flavors: Personalize your cocktails with infused simple syrups, or make your own sour mix.

  • Grenadine
  • Simple syrup (plain or infused with herbs, spices or fruit)
  • Sour mix
  • Sugar (granulated, brown, cane)

 

Fruit Juices: Freshly squeeze your citrus fruits for maximum flavor.

  • Cranberry juice cocktail
  • Lemon juice
  • Lime juice
  • Orange juice
  • 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.

  • Seltzer
  • Club soda
  • Tonic
  • Cola
  • Lemon-lime
  • Ginger ale
  • Ginger beer

 

Garnishes: Precut slices or wedges of lemons and limes before the party, and have fun with inventive garnishes.

  • Celery
  • Citrus twists
  • Coarse salt
  • Cocktail onions, for Gibsons
  • Cucumber
  • Fresh berries or currants
  • Fresh herbs, such as mint or basil
  • Fun swizzle sticks, cocktail straws, spears for fruit garnishes
  • Jalapeno
  • Lemons
  • Limes
  • Maraschino cherries
  • Nutmeg, for grating on brandy Alexanders or eggnog
  • Olives, try different varieties or stuffed olives
  • Oranges
  • Starfruit, pineapple, apple
  • Sugar cubes, for Manhattans

 

Tools of the Trade: These tools are essential to any well-stocked bar.

  • Blender
  • Bottle opener
  • Cocktail shaker
  • Cocktail stirrer
  • Cocktail strainer
  • Hand-held fruit juicer
  • Jigger measure
  • Knife
  • Muddler
  • Small cutting board

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