Setting up your very own home bar can seem like a daunting task, particularly if you’re trying to go from nothing to something all in one go. Rather than rush, it often works out better if you allow it to evolve over time, accounting for your own unique tastes and budgets.
Of course, you’ll need the basics to kick things off. Here are four tips to help you get started.
It’s not a home bar without the most important ingredient, is it? There really is no hard and fast rule for selecting what you want to stock, so it really comes down to personal taste. You’ll probably want to cater to guests when you have them around, but think about what you like to drink first and foremost and start there.
If you enjoy whisky, for example, grab a couple of variations to kick things off. A solid bourbon and scotch are two good places to start. Or, if you’re new to brown liquor, BWS is doing a four-pack of whiskies for $25 from participating stores. The Whisky Business pack is a good place to begin your journey. We’ve also got a great explainer on how to tell five main types of whisky apart, as well as the difference between ‘whisky’ and ‘whiskey’.
From there, accumulate other types of liquor catering to your friends’ tastes. Make a list of the drinks they often enjoy and use that to prioritise what to buy. Generally, having bottles of gin, vodka, white rum, bourbon and tequila will cater to most popular drinks, but again, you don’t have to rush out and buy everything in one go.
Having a selection of beer and wine certainly won’t go astray, either. For whatever you need, BWS has you covered.
Again, the mixers you choose will depend on your own tastes and what you like to drink. If you just want some basics, sodas (like soda water, lemonade, cola etc), tonic water, Cointreau (technically a liquor, but used to mix a tonne of cocktails), vermouth (red, white or both depending on the cocktails you’re into) and bitters will start you off just fine.
Once you begin branching out cocktail-wise or receive requests from guests, you can start filling in any gaps in your collection.
Serving a cocktail in an ordinary glass just doesn’t have the same feel, so work some glassware into your budget if you can. BWS insider Sam recommends his top three glasses to have:
Low Ball Glass: “Think of an old fashioned,” Sam told Business Insider Australia. “These are the perfect glasses for when you want to muddle ingredients in the serving glass, or simply to drink your spirit neat or on the rocks.”
Collins Glass: “Slightly narrower than a highball glass, this is the perfect glass for when you want to start playing with mixers,” Sam said. “Think Gin & Tonics and Tom Collins.”
Martini Glass: “Well, 007 would be disappointed if I didn’t include the classic martini glass. Think Martinis, Manhattans, and Cosmopolitans. It really is one of the OGs of cocktail glassware.”
While you might be able to get by with some kitchen items for a little while, a good cocktail kit will make mixing drinks far easier and have you looking like a pro in the process. To start, consider grabbing a jigger for measuring shots, a shaker and strainer for mixing and pouring, and a bar spoon for stirring.
You can buy cocktail kits at most homewares stores and, as Sam says, it’s “the best way to get a matching cocktail shaker, strainer, jigger and bar spoon without overspending”.
Lastly, your run-of-the-mill ice cube trays can sort you out just fine, but Sam recommends getting some large silicone ice trays for larger cubes. These are particularly good for cocktails like the old fashioned, as they take longer to melt, which prevents your drink becoming too diluted too quickly.
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