Stocking a Home Bar for Beginners

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So you want to make cocktails at home... but don't know where to start?

People ask me for all kinds of recommendations. Sometimes they just want to know a quick and easy cocktail recipe, or the best quality bourbon for the lowest price, or how to make simple syrup– equal parts sugar and water people, it's called "simple" for a reason!

However, what people ask for the most is just one, simple post about what bottles they should get for "starting out."

I'm afraid it's not very simple but here you go! Below you can find a fairly stripped down version of what I recommend for a budget home bar.

Keep in mind the way you stock your home bar is pretty subjective and will depend on your own personal preferences. I especially appreciate various kinds of whiskey, so my home bar has a lot of different whiskey. My Belgian friend Matthias is really into gin, so I'd imagine gin is mainly what his collection consists of. However, if you go with the bottles below you'll have a pretty well-rounded bar set-up that will allow you to create a majority of popular cocktails.

I did my best to keep these recommendations as budget-friendly as possible. I have many more recommendations for different products, so if you want more details on a particular category just ask!

This should go without saying but please enjoy responsibly. 

Make drinks WITH and FOR people. Making cocktails can be a great tool for hospitality and building community... but if you're making drinks just for yourself all the time, then it's just kinda sad. Be intentional with your drink-mixing!

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Base Spirits

Whiskey

  • Rye: Old Overholt
            Rittenhouse
  • Bourbon: Buffalo Trace
                    Bulleit
  • Scotch:
    Laphroaig 10 year (single malt)
    Monkey Shoulder (blended)

Rum

  • Plantation 5 year
  • Wray & Nephew White Overproof
  • Goslings Black Seal
  • Smith & Cross

Gin

  • London Dry: Beefeater
                         Tanqueray
  • Contemporary: Aviation
                             Hendrick's

Agave

  • Pueblo Viejo Blanco
  • Del Maguey Vida Mezcal

Vodka

Other

  • Laird's Applejack (apple brandy)
  • Courvoisier VS Cognac                        

Modifiers

Liqueurs

  • Cointreau (Triple Sec)
  • Ginger Liqueur
  • Campari / Aperol 
  • Amaro Averna

Vermouth

  • Dolin Dry Vermouth
  • Dolin Rouge Vermouth /
    Carpano Antica Formula

Syrups


Bar tools


Before you go crazy and start buying up all this stuff, take a look at 3 tips for Stocking a Home Bar on a Budget.