Stocking a Home Bar: The Essentials

Are you preparing to stock your first home bar? If so, you’ll want to stock up on as many of the essential liquors and mixers as possible without blowing your budget (or diet and health and well being) out of the water. There are some things you’ll want to have on hand all of the time and there are some things you can pick up as you need them. Here’s how you can get yourself started.

Stocking Up on the Basics

Every good bar has some vodka, gin, and rum on hand. If you are an avid drinker you may want to pick up a couple of premium names, like Skyy, Tanquary, or Goslings. If you’re on a budget and don’t mind drinking stuff that isn’t off the top shelf, or if you are planning to entertain friends, go for cheaper options and pick up your top shelf liquors one at a time as you have some extra cash on hand. Other basic essentials include whiskey, bourbon, scotch, and tequila.

Wines and Beers

You don’t have to run out and buy the oldest fine wines you can get your hands on when putting your home bar together. First, wine doesn’t keep long after it has been opened, so you won’t want to buy a lot of wine that will end up being wasted if it isn’t consumed within a reasonable amount of time. Stick to a couple of bottles of red and a couple of bottles of white. Chardonnay works well as an all-occasion wine and you can always pick up specific brands or flavors if you know you’re having a special guest with unique tastes.

The type of beer you buy will depend strictly on your own tastes. You know what type of beer you like and you probably have a good idea of what your friends like. When in doubt, beers like Coors Light, Bud, Corona, and Guinness tend to please most crowds. Don’t forget to pick up a couple of low-calorie options for the calorie-counters in your crowd.


Liqueurs are essential for putting together the hottest mixed drink recipes but you don’t have to grab too many as you start out. Schnapps comes in a wide variety of flavors, ranging from the commonly used peach to apple, mellon, and more. Cremes (like Crème de Menthe), brandies, and orange flavored liqueurs are great to have on hand as well. Don’t forget a simple triple sec, dry vermouth, and sweet vermouth. You’ll find there are hundreds of styles and flavors to choose from, so go with a few you know best and add to your collection as you discover the ones you really enjoy.

Generic Mixers

Mixers like soda and juice are great to have on hand but you’ll want to make sure they aren’t going to waste. The most commonly used include Coke (or a cola of your choice), Diet Coke, Sprite and/or 7-Up, Ginger Ale, club soda, tonic water, small cans of pineapple juice, cranberry juice, and orange juice. Pick up the mixers you know you’ll use regularly and worry about adding others when you know you’ll be serving guests.

Stocking your home bar doesn’t need to be a chore. As a matter of fact, you’ll probably have quite a bit of fun as you begin to pick and choose your favorite liquors and liqueurs. Remember to make healthy choices, consume in moderation, and keep your drinks as low in calorie count as possible!

Image credit: OctopusHat / Flickr

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