The home bar is the ultimate of home comforts, giving you the chance to play the role of bartender every weekend (or how about every evening?).
You can mix up classic mojitos, pour your favorite scotch, or craft your own cocktails and drinks to impress your friends! But setting up the ultimate home bar isn’t going to happen if you don’t have the right ingredients and the right equipment.
You need your bar set stocked with home bar essentials, including base spirits and liquors, cocktail mixers and shakers, strainers and muddlers, bar spoons and garnishes, and of course, the perfect, high-quality clear ice!
If you’re learning how to stock a home bar, then why not go all out and make sure you’ve got all the home bar essentials? Keep reading, and you can discover the secret to the perfect home bar!
The Top 10 Home Bar Essentials
1) Essential liquors
Let’s start with the liquors. These are your strong alcohols or spirits that are essential to any home bar cocktail making and drink pouring experience.
You’ll need to keep your bar stocked with a full home bar liquor list that includes versatile liquors that can be used to mix cocktails, that can be served with mixers or sodas, or that can be enjoyed on the rocks.
At a minimum, you need one clear, neutral liquor, such as vodka, and a strong whiskey. However, there are many, many more options you can keep stocked, so here are all of the essential liquors for home bar cocktail making:
2) Essential liqueurs
When you’re learning how to stock a bar, don’t forget the essential liqueurs too. You need these often sweeter, slightly weaker alcohols to mix into the cocktails (or to serve on the rocks, or as after-dinner aperitifs).
Without liqueurs, you can’t make many cocktails. An espresso martini, for instance, requires both vodka and a coffee liqueur such as Kahlua (and the espresso) for it to work. Otherwise, all you’ve got is a vodka espresso.
Essential liqueurs that every bar needs stocked include the following:
- Coffee liqueur
- Creme de menthe
3) Essential mixers
Once you’ve stocked up on your alcohol, you can start thinking about the mixers that you’re going to need. The exact mixers you choose will depend in part on your own personal tastes and which drinks you’re likely to be mixing.
If you like sweet cocktails, you’ll want lots of syrups, but if you prefer sharper drinks, you’ll need more bitters.
Here are the most important mixers to keep in your home bar:
- Fruit juices
- Sugar syrups
- Sour mix
4) Essential sodas
On top of your mixers, you need a good supply of sodas too. Some recipes call for sodas in the cocktail itself, but you’ll also want them to mix up simple drinks for your friends, such as a gin and tonic, whisky cola, or vodka coke.
With the following sodas, you’ll have a well-stocked home bar that’s ready for anything your guests ask for:
- Club soda
- Seltzer water
- Lemon-lime soda
5) High-quality clear ice
Ice is one of the most overlooked cocktail ingredients, but it’s essential that when you’re stocking a home bar, you don’t forget about the ice!
Ice is needed not only to chill drinks and keep them cool, but also to add to the flavor. As the ice melts, it helps to blend the ingredients together, or it gives you smoother scotch when you pour it on the rocks.
But we aren’t just talking about filling up an ice tray and leaving it in the freezer. No, we’re talking about having a ready supply of high quality, clear ice for your cocktails and drinks! You see, not all ice is the same, and for the best cocktails and smoothest scotch, you need clear, untainted ice. Clear ice melts slower, tastes purer, and looks a whole lot better than blemished ice!
The easiest way to keep your home bar fully stocked with high-quality ice is to invest in a clear ice ball maker that produces crystal clear ice every time!
6) Cocktail shakers
Once you’ve got your basic bar stock of drinks sorted, you need to start thinking about how you’re going to actually mix that mojito or martini.
This is where you need to make sure you’ve got cocktail shakers, and depending on how guests you’re serving (or how many different cocktails you’re mixing), you’ll probably need more than one.
Cocktail shakers allow you to blend your ingredients together seamlessly with each other and with the ice. Purchasing a two-piece cocktail shaker is the way forward, as this gives you the versatility to make all kinds of different drinks (and yes, you do need the two-piece for many different drinks).
Strainers are crucial to your bar set up if you want to serve the smoothest, best-looking cocktails that you can.
When you’re mixing your drinks (especially in the shakers), you’ll have lots of ingredients, such as fruit or added ice, that you don’t actually want to be serving up in the glass.
The strainer is a simple way to remove these unwanted elements when you’re pouring. Strainers can also be used to add an added layer of froth or fizz, if that’s what your drink calls for.
8) Muddlers, knives, and bar spoons
Any well-stocked bar needs a range of bartending tools and implements. These will not only make the mixology process smoother, but also allow for more authentic and better-tasting cocktails.
Three essential home bar tools are muddlers, knives, and bar spoons. Muddlers are used for crushing together ingredients at the bottom of a glass to release and mix the flavors (for example, mojitos need the mint “muddling” to release that minty kick).
Knives are used for slicing your garnishes, while bar spoons are long-handled spoons that are essential for stirring your drink before it's served.
Garnishes are essential if you’re looking to serve up authentic cocktails. Garnishes add to the flavor of the drink and, when used appropriately, complement the cocktail itself. They also provide a nice finishing touch to the presentation of a drink.
At a minimum, you’ll need your bar fridge stocked with lemons, limes, salt, and sugar. With these four major garnishes, you can do almost anything. For particular cocktails, though, you’ll need particular garnishes. No mojito is complete without mint, for instance, while you can’t make a daiquiri without strawberries.
Here are a few of the top garnishes that you’ll need in your bar stock to keep your cocktails fresh and tasty:
- Mint leaves
And finally, there’s no point stocking the bar with expensive liquors if you haven’t got the drinkware to serve your cocktails. There’s a reason why different drinks are poured in different glasses, and that’s because the drinking vessel can seriously affect the flavor of the drink. Wine glasses need to wide to let in the air, while champagne flutes are narrow to keep in the bubbles!
Yes, you can technically drink your drink from any glass you have on hand, but if you’re going all out and setting up a proper home bar, it’s worth it to invest in a wide range of cocktail glasses, wine glasses, beer glasses, and more. These will allow you to play the role of bartender officially!
Here are a few of the essential types of drinkware you’ll need stocked up to serve up the most authentic drinks and cocktails at your home bar:
- Beer glasses
- Shot glasses
- Highball glasses
- Martini glasses
- Margarita glasses
- Wine glasses
- Whiskey tumblers
- Champagne flutes
Keep Your Home Bar Essentials Fully Stocked!
For the best home bar, you need to keep your bar stocked with all the essentials. You need your favorite spirits, liqueurs, and mixers to make your cocktails, and you need the best ice, garnishes, and shakers to mix up a storm!
Do you agree with our choice of essential home bar ingredients, or do you have a different bar setup? Why not bookmark our top 10 home bar essentials guide and keep your home bar fully stocked?