When stocking a home bar, especially for the first time, you might be overwhelmed. I mean, you walk into the liquor store and the options and possibilities seem endless, right? We get it. At Prestige, we believe in the home bar, and we know you have the potential to become a great at-home bartender. Keep reading for some expert advice to get you rolling.
We’ve brought along two bartending pros for this one. And we’re happy to be reaching beyond the States with these fellas. Say hello to Mike @barflys.and.dreams, head bartender of Bristol’s @farawaycocktailclub, and to one of Capri’s finest, Francesco @theworldofthebar.
Follow them on Instagram now! They’re interesting, fun, and knowledgeable.
Top Tips for Stocking a Home Bar
Mike kicks things off by saying:
“I think if you’re stocking a home bar for the first time, then you need to know what you like first. I mean, it’s all well and good having a whole load of different spirits and liqueurs, but if you hate 75 percent of them, what’s the point?”
We agree. He recommends focusing on what you know and what you like. Build from there.
His practical home bar advice? “Maybe start with five bottles, then look to expand your collection as often as you can. If you’re out and you have a tasty drink, ask for the recipe and then pick up the ingredients.”
He promotes experience and curiosity, same as we do. Here’s his list of useful starter bottles:
- a London dry gin
- a good vodka
- a white rum
- a good tequila
- triple sec
He notes that with these, “there is an untold number of classics you can make.”
Practicality Rules (but Atmosphere is Everything)
Francesco reminds us that stocking a home bar goes beyond liquor and bitters. You’ll also need to procure the necessary equipment. We like to think he’d approve of our decanters and whiskey glasses. Yep, with these, you can definitely check off the boxes for practicality and atmosphere.
Of course, you’ll need room to work, so purchase a bar cart or consider making your own bar. Francesco suggests keeping with the style of the rest of your home. Check out our article DIY Pallet Bar Ideas That Are Insanely Amazing. Further, over time, it’s not a bad idea to collect all of these ten home bar tools (the first five are top priority):
- Boston and/or Cocktail shaker
- Mixing beaker
- Bar Spoon
- Paring knife
- Cutting board
- Handheld juicer
- Ice bucket
Popular (and Easy) Home Bar Drinks
Mike tells us that his go-to home bar cocktail is a Tom Collins:
“It’s super easy, requires nothing more than a Boston shaker and a strainer, and is a deliciously refreshing drink.”
Here’s the recipe, home bartenders:
Tom Collins Recipe
● 1.5 oz. Gin
● 0.75 oz. Fresh Lemon Juice
● 0.5 oz. Simple Syrup
● Soda Water
Shake the first three ingredients with ice, and strain into a highball glass over fresh ice. Top off with soda water and garnish with a lemon twist.
Tip: If you’re feeling adventurous, Mike suggests using a dry white wine syrup made with some wine that’s past its prime. (Here’s how: https://www.thekitchn.com/leftover-wine-make-wine-syrup-170080) It’ll blow your guests’ minds.
Francesco raves over his standby and thinks it’s a perfect home bar offering. We like it already because bourbon is the star (orchid flowers are probably a little easier to come by in Capri…use your creativity!). It’s certain to be heaven and beyond. Here’s his recipe, sure to lift you and your guests:
Above Heaven Recipe
● 1.5 oz. Bourbon
● 0.5 oz. Yellow Chartreuse
● 0.5 oz. Ginger Syrup
● 1 Dash of Orange Bitters
Stir ingredients together and strain into an Old-Fashioned glass. Garnish with an orchid flower.
Home Bar Liquors and Bitters: Mike’s Must-Haves
Mike gave us a rundown of some go-to brands as well. When stocking a home bar, keep an eye out for these names:
- Beefeater Gin
- Ocho Reposado Tequila
- Bacardi Carta Blanca
- Angostura Aromatic Bitters
Join the Conversation
Have any other tips or brands for stocking a home bar, or favorite standby recipes? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below. Shared knowledge can only make our home bartending more fun!