How to Have the Ultimate Home Bar for Entertaining

spice & spoon

Essentials of the home bar. image: spice & spoon

The days are already starting to get long and soon they’ll be warm enough for outdoor drinking. Think simple cocktails enjoyed under the sky as day fades to night, afternoon barbecues with craft brews and clambakes with a bottle of rosé. Your home bar needs to meet the task of those drinking occasions while still being as simple as a lazy, warm afternoon. Veteran bartender Johnny Welsh and Trisha Antonsen, the chief cocktail officer behind Drizly’s on-demand alcohol delivery service, shared their home bar essentials. Shake, stir and muddle your way to the ultimate home bar.

Essential Tools

You have the basics: shaker, strainer, measuring cup or jigger and vegetable peeler, but do you have what it takes to make your home bar exceptional? Master home mixologists also have a mixing glass, bar spoon, muddler, juicer/reamer, ice cube trays, a fine trainer, swizzle stick and a dedicated bar knife on hand.

Essential Glassware

If you have a big party you may need to buy more glassware, but for a basic home bar Welsh recommends glassware for wine, martinis, pilsner, shot and drink glasses.

Essential Liquors

You and your guests’ tastes will dictate which liquors you’ll want to stock up on before a party but Antonsen recommends keeping gin, tequila, vodka, dark and light rum, bourbon, whiskey, scotch, brandy and red and white wine on hand for different drinking occasions. Pro tip: always have a bottle or two of sparkling wine for impromptu celebrations.

Essential Ingredients

“Liqueurs and cordials are also important, especially because they can add some great flavor if you do not have any juice or fresh ingredients,” Antonsen said. She suggests dry and sweet vermouth, amaretto, and coffee, cream, orange and maraschino liqueurs.

Bitters are another great way to spice up a home bar. Angostura bitters are standard and work in many cocktails, but you may want to try out some other flavors such as peach for seasonal drinks.