How to Stock Your Home Bar (without going overboard)

Alright, everybody gather ‘round. I’m going to tell you the secrets of stocking your home bar so you can impress your dates, clients, boss, friends, neighbors, or anyone with whom you want to share a drink. You don’t need to spend a small fortune or take up a lot of room in your home to be a super-suave host; you just need to have the basics.


Start small and stick with the essentials. Don’t buy a lot of top shelf stuff to try to impress, just buy what you enjoy imbibing yourself. Unless you often host large parties, you aren’t going to need a huge variety and you don’t want to keep bottles around just getting dusty. A few spirits and mixers can make a surprising number of cocktails. In addition to perhaps having a couple bottles of wine on hand, I’d recommend starting with:

  • Vodka
  • Rum
  • Bourbon
  • Gin
  • Tequila

Mixers & Garnishes

A great start for mixers would include:

  • Club Soda/Tonic Water
  • Clear Soda (Sprite, etc)
  • Ginger Ale
  • Orange Juice/Cranberry Juice
  • Bitters
  • Vermouth
  • Simple Sugar

If you want to add a little panache to your drinks, you’ll want to get a few garnishes:

  • Limes/Lemons/Oranges
  • Cocktail Olives/Onions
  • Sugar/Salt/Pepper
  • Mint

And don’t forget to stock up on ice! Not having ice would be a major party foul.


You’re so close to being the perfect host; don’t ruin it by serving your drinks in a red Solo cup. You can keep it very simple by just having short glasses, tall glasses and stems. If you really want to pull out all the stops, pick up some wine glasses, martini glasses and beer mugs or pint glasses. Stemless crystal glasses are also becoming increasingly popular.

Now you need just a few tools:

  • Cocktail Shaker
  • Jigger (that fancy double-sided shot glass looking thing)
  • Muddler
  • Ice Bucket
  • Strainer
  • Toothpicks
  • Corkscrew 

And please don’t forget about your designated drivers. No one should feel punished for refraining from alcohol. Make them something fancy! Sprite is not fancy. Water with lemon is not fancy. Mix them up something fun, put it in a nifty glass, and don’t forget to garnish it!

Now go to the liquor store and stock your bar! The next blog will cover home bar storage. I’ll tell you how to make your bar practical, fun, and sophisticated… this is a design blog after all!