Every cocktail newbie needs to learn How to Stock Your First Home Bar so you are prepared at any time for an exciting entertaining opportunity. You’ll look like a master mixologist by starting with vodka, whiskey, rum, gin, and tequila!
It feels like we have been building up to this post for awhile now. We have chatted about quite a few tips, tricks, and the basic bar tools you need to make a great adults-only drink. Part of me feels like we did things a little backwards though. Maybe we should have started with the booze first. You can’t infuse, shake, or stir what you don’t have!
The very basic ingredient in a cocktail is alcohol. It seems like a simple concept, then you walk into your local liquor store and suddenly it’s all very intimidating. Grabbing a bottle of vodka suddenly turns you into a mess of uncertainty. Let’s go over How to Stock Your First Home Bar and eliminate some of your entertaining stress. Before we go over what you should buy, here are a few suggestions to get you started.
How to Stock Your First Home Bar
- Start with small quantities – Most alcohol companies make mini or ‘airplane’ sized bottles of liquor. You will get one, sometimes even two drinks from each bottle. This is a great way to taste your way through several brands without wasting money on a full bottle of booze you don’t end up liking.
- Don’t be afraid to sip – If you do not like the taste of a brand all on its own, masking it with a mixer isn’t going to make it better. I’m not saying to do shots, just sip a little bit to see if it’s pleasing to your palate. It really helps to research a brand too. Most major distributors have websites with information about how their spirits are made.
- Try locally made spirits – Sure many of us will reach for a big name brand, but don’t discount the little guys. You can find local distilleries in just about any region of the country. Once again search online for information in your area, many of the little guys also host tastings where you can gather a wealth of information!
- Buy the best you can afford – There are a lot of places we want to cut corners in life. Buying quality booze shouldn’t be one of them. I am not advocating that you spend an entire paycheck on an overpriced bottle of spirits. In fact, a bigger price tag doesn’t equal higher quality. That’s why it’s important to start small and see what you like. After that just buy the best you can comfortably afford. Your palate and body will thank you.
Vodka is hands down the most versatile and forgiving alcohol in your new collection. It is a very neutral spirit used in a variety of cocktails. Some hardcore vodka aficionados enjoy sipping it ice cold on its own or in a classic martini. I have found that most people use it in mixed drinks such as a Cosmo, Bloody Mary, or Moscow Mule. It’s also a great foundation for creating your own alcohol infusions. You will find numerous flavored vodkas on the market, but I highly encourage you to create your own!
In my humble opinion, Tequila is a foody’s booze. While it is the cornerstone of classic cocktails like everyone’s favorite margarita, you can also cook all kinds of great recipes with it! I’ve personally used in marinades and barbecue sauces with great success. There are several different classifications of tequila, but the two main categories are tequila blanco and tequila gold. These are both young and un-aged spirits with the blanco being a 100% pure Blue Agave spirit. Tequila gold is typically a mix consisting of a minimum 51% Blue Agave, while the rest is made up of cane sugars, colorings, or extracts. I prefer a solid tequila blanco for consumption in mixed drinks and recipes.
Gin has one defining flavor profile and that’s juniper berries. All gin varieties contain some measure of juniper berries plus other botanicals including herbs, flowers, fruits, vegetables, and even tea. The base of this spirit is very similar to vodka and has been called the first infused vodka. The characteristics vary between brands with some being very floral, while others are more mellow or even spiced. It works well on its own in drinks like a classic gin and tonic where the natural notes of the liquor stands out. You can also infuse gin to make more modern cocktails like this Raspberry Gimlet.
I will be honest, it’s tough for me to think about Rum and not automatically associate it with pirates on the high seas! That’s probably because hundreds of years ago rum was discovered when molasses from sugar cane plants grown in the Caribbean was fermented and turned into alcohol. It inspires daydreams of sunny beaches and high seas. Rum ranges from light to dark and the color is a good indicator of how long it’s been aged. Dark rum is more mature and will typically have richer, deeper flavor profiles. Our favorite rum drinks are tropically inspired like pina coladas, mojitos, and daiquiris.
Whiskey is probably the toughest liquor to categorize because there is simply a wide range of related products. In its simplest form, whiskey is a distilled spirit made from fermented grain mash that is aged in wooden casks giving it that signature brown color and slightly woody taste. Bourbon, blended whiskey, scotch, and rye are all subsets within the whiskey family. Their differences come from location and grain composition. I recommend tasting different variations. I love a good Irish whiskey which is made from barley and recently I’ve been experimenting with rye whiskey. Rye is in the wheat family and pretty closely related to barley.
We hope you learned a few tips and tricks on How to Stock Your First Home Bar. If you enjoyed these fantastic ideas, be sure to stop by our Cocktail section for adults-only beverage ideas. For daily recipe inspiration, like us on Facebook and follow us on Pinterest. Enjoy!
Disclosure: Message intended for our readers 21+ only. Please drink responsibly!