How to Start and Equip a Home Bar for Beginners
Having your own home bar is advantageous for lots of reasons. It's not only the perfect centerpiece for impressing guests. It also means you've got your favorite tipples and cocktail ingredients on hand whenever you need them.
2020 saw life change dramatically. More than ever, we have to make our own entertainment at home. That can be easy with a fabulous, well-stocked home bar.
Creating your home bar requires some serious thought. You need to know which liquors to buy, as well as the right ingredients and glassware to accompany them. If you're eager to equip a bar, read on to discover exactly how to start a home bar:
How to Start a Home Bar
Start With the Alcohol
First things first. Resist the temptation to buy just any drink available in order to stock your bar. Be choosy. Pick quality liquors you enjoy drinking.
Everyone has a dusty old bottle of obscurely flavored liquor languishing at the back of a cupboard. We don't want this for your bar. Start by picking your top three liquors and stock the bar with them.
Remember, this is your home bar, so you're catering to your own tastes, not other peoples. If you plan on entertaining a lot, you can surprise guests with your favorite cocktails.
Popular and versatile options include:
Image courtesy of @wildishjess
Go Easy, To Begin With
When looking at how to start a home bar, many people buy too much too soon. This leads to your bar space becoming cluttered with unused and unwanted bottles. We recommend quality over quantity. Start small and build your collection one by one as you add more drinks to your repertoire.
Mix it Up
Mixers are the foundation of all cocktails. They add variety and interest to straight liquor. The classic basics are the best. They are versatile enough to go with many different types of drinks:
- Club soda
- Ginger ale
- Tonic water
- Vermouth (buy small bottles unless you intend to use it a lot as this has a limited shelf-life)
- Angostura bitters
- Simple syrup
- Fruit juices according to your preferences
Our pro tip is to buy cans of mixers - especially juices - as these have the longest shelf-life
The Right Equipment
Now that you've got your liquids, you need something to put them in. Investing in good-quality glassware will make your bar all the more special. Great glasses can add elegance to the overall effect of your bar and cocktails. Excellent cocktail-making equipment will enable you to make cocktails correctly, which will always ensure they look and taste great.
Glassware to consider:
- Wine glasses (for red and white wines)
- Rocks glasses
- Wide whiskey tasting glasses
- Tall, highball glasses
- Martini glasses
- Beer/pint jugs
- Champagne flutes
Beautiful glassware will show off the drink and create a more decadent experience. Our glassware at Greenline Goods is sand-etched, featuring many fantastic designs created in our Chicago-based workshop. Check out some of our best sellers: (include a few images)
- Shaker - we recommend this insulated shaker from Bru.Mate or a Boston shaker
- Viski Stainless Steel Jigger (Shot measure)
- Mixology & Craft Crystal Cocktail Mixing Glass Beaker
- Pina Barware Bamboo Muddler
- Mixing spoons
- Peeler (for garnishes)
- Cocktail sticks
- Knife and cutting board
- Finally, invest in a good quality mixology recipe book, so you always have the recipes for classic cocktails on hand. We recommend the NoMad Cocktail Book.
Image courtesy of @andreakucinski
Garnishes for the Finishing Flourish
Garnishes give cocktails that final touch. Depending on your preferences, it may be good to keep the following garnishes on hand:
The Home Bar Itself
You're going to need somewhere to put all your ingredients and equipment. The good news is that it doesn't need to break the bank. A repurposed cabinet can do the job just as well as something custom-built. Here are some guidelines to follow when building your bar:
- Analyze the available space and ensure everything will fit comfortably
- If you have small children, ensure they can't access any of your bar items - consider lockable units or high shelves to keep alcohol out of reach
- Your bar unit needs to be very stable as it will hold a lot of glassware and accessories
- Ensure you have enough shelf space to fit what you have comfortably, along with additional space for when you grow your home bar
- If you plan to entertain a lot, consider incorporating a seating plan, too
- A mini-fridge (or standard size fridge) is an excellent idea for keeping beer, mixers, and garnishes fresh
Now you know how to start your first home bar. Once you have everything set up, all you'll need to do is replenish items as they run out. Oh, and enjoy several cocktails while you admire your handiwork!
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