byob: be your own bartender
Having a home bar is cool but it’s pointless if you simply have an assortment of random booze. You’ll need the right drinks to come up with the concoction to impress your guests and worry not, it’s actually not that difficult to get a fully functional home bar. Here’s a brief guide on the basics of stocking up your home bar so you can get the widest range of yours and your guests’ favorite cocktails. Now before we move on to the list of what you’ll need, we just want to make sure that you understand these rules.
Pick the drinks that you enjoy. Too many times, good men have forgone their personal tastes and preferences over their guests which in all honesty defeat the purpose of having a home bar. Remember, it’s your home bar, so relax and fill up with the things you that like so that it exudes your personality.
Start small. We’re assuming that you’re just starting out with stocking up your home bar and what many beginners may feel is that they’ll need a complete arsenal of the finest spirits. While in actuality, you can start off with just a few bottles which doesn’t have to break the bank. Stocking up your bar is not a sprint; you can’t just buy a boatload of different bottles and call it a day. You’ll most likely end up having no idea what to do with 90% of them because they’re completely alien to you. Instead, take it slow and gradually build up your collection and we recommend starting off with the most versatile drinks so you can make several concoctions with. That, and don’t get pulled into getting something top shelf because there are great drinks available that comes well in budget. Also, it helps if you know how to work well with a drink already; we recommend getting a good cocktail book so you’ll always have the recipe to a good drink.
Moving on to what you should actually get.
Spirits Vodka- Excellent for shots. I can testify to that. Along with that, they’re also good with singing babushkas or for mixing into popular cocktails like Bloody Maries. Vodka lacks that strong color, taste, or aroma, which positions it to be perfect for mixing. The differences between vodka brands come down to what they’re distilled from; potatoes, grains, sugar cane; and their texture in the mouth. Some, like Absolut, have an oily, silky texture while others, like Stolichnaya, have a watery, medicinal finish.
Tequila (100% blue agave) – This is one liquor that’s a must-have in your arsenal. Just remember this before you buy them, the type of tequila you stock depends on what you plan on using it for. Gold tequila is usually the cheaper type of tequila and is a great pick if you plan on using it for mixed drinks. But if you’d like to take your tequila straight up, the agave-based drink in its purest form is what you should opt for— silver tequila.
Gin- It’s another one of the base spirits for many popular cocktails, so make sure you have enough of them. Gin comes in four varieties: London Dry, Plymouth, Old Tom, and Genever. A common suggestion is starting off with a London Dry gin. Then later on, add a Plymouth gin to the mix.
Rum- This tasty liquor comes in light and dark. Dark rums are best for punches. Light rums are for mixing cocktails. So obviously we’d recommend starting off with a light rum and then maybe add dark rum when you have a big party where you’ll be serving punch.
Bourbon- An essential for the gentleman; great for sipping and classic cocktails like the Old Fashioned. Two bourbons that you can get started with are Jim Beam and Wild Turkey. Very affordable and they taste nice. At least, I think they taste nice
Scotch- (both blended and single malt) – Holding a glass of scotch soothes the soul and assists in the contemplation of deep, manly thoughts. My favorite Scotch based cocktail is the classic Rob Roy. I suggest having a blended and single malt scotch in your home bar.
The three citrus fruits are used as garnish more often. Have a few of each around the bar and you can use them as both a garnish and a source of fresh juice.
- Maraschino Cherries
Also nice to have around are:
- Cocktail Onions
- Salt and Sugar
- Whipped Cream
Important tools to have include:
- Mixing glass
- Fresh Ice
- Bar spoon
- Hawthorne strainer
- Citrus peeler
- Handheld citrus press
WORDS BY SHAQUILLE S. GHOTANE