No adult household is really complete without a home bar. Having a home bar is not only a classy addition to any home, but it’s a great thing to have when entertaining your friends and family. Whether mixology is a new career or just a fun hobby for you, everybody who enjoys alcohol and hosting needs a home bar.
When it comes to planning out and stocking your home bar, it can be a bit overwhelming to know where to start. Thankfully, your brunch buddies here at Ohza have put together everything you need to know about putting together your own home bar. From must-have liquors to counter organization, we’ve got the complete guide to all the home bar essentials.
It’s time to put your mixologist skills to the test by building your home bar. Here’s everything you need to know.
Before you begin buying and stocking your spirits, you need a place to put everything.
Plan out where your bar will be in your home and by what means you will store all your home bar essentials. Set aside cabinet or counter space for your bottles, glasses, and mixers. You can also purchase carts or stands to put all of these items on if you choose. Since it’s your bar, you can do whatever you desire with it.
Now that you’ve got the space set aside, here are some at-home bar essentials you need to be stocking up on.
Aside from having a well-stocked bar, it’s also essential to have the right tools to make cocktails. Proper glassware and specific tools can help turn a good cocktail into a great one.
Some items you may already have in your kitchen, but if you want to start from scratch or upgrade some tools, this is the list for you. Here are some essential cocktail tools you need for your home bar to be a hit.
1. Cocktail Strainer
To properly filter your cocktail, you need a cocktail strainer. Some shakers have built-in strainers, but it’s better to err on the side of caution. A cocktail strainer is a must-have for your home bar.
If you’re the kind of person who likes everything to be precise, you need a jigger. It helps you measure out precisely the right amount of alcohol you need for your cocktails. It’ll save you a headache later… literally.
3. Cocktail Shaker
No good home bar is complete without a cocktail shaker. Not only does it help upgrade the quality of your mixed drinks, but it makes you feel like a real bartender and can help you impress your friends and family.
4. Hand Juicer
An easy way to upgrade your cocktails is by using fresh-squeezed juice, which you can get by using a hand juicer. There are few things better than fresh-squeezed juice in your cocktails.
5. Designated Knife and Cutting Board
Instead of scrambling around your kitchen for a clean cutting board and knife for fruit garnishes, set aside a designated knife and cutting board to use solely for mixology purposes. It’ll save you some time and effort in the long run.
6. Large Ice Cube Tray
The perfect way to top your glass is with crisp, fresh ice. Ice is the key ingredient in providing the perfect texture and chill with your shaken cocktails.
7. Bar Spoon
Sure, you could use virtually any spoon to mix your drinks, but a bar spoon is much more efficient and has a longer reach for optimum mixing. Also, bar spoons are classy and are often more comfortable than regular spoons if you are mixing up a multitude of drinks.
<3> 8. Blender
If shaken or stirred cocktails really aren't your speed, you may enjoy a frozen or blended one instead. Not only is a blender great for frozen beverages, but it can help make your job as a mixologist a lot easier, especially if you are making a lot of drinks at once for your celebration or event.
When it comes to actually stocking your home bar, you have a variety of choices.
Not sure where to begin? Start with alcohol you actually enjoy. Start small and pick flavors you like, and take things from there.
To make a well-rounded cocktail, it’s key to have liquors, mixers, and garnishes. It’s essential to always have some sort of all three of these stocked at all times. Here are the essentials when it comes to stocking your home bar.
Having liquor stocked is crucial to having a successful home bar to provide a base for your cocktails. Most mixologists have their favorites, but it can be hard to narrow it down if you are just starting. Here are our top picks and why.
Gin is a must-have for any home bar. There are so many beloved cocktails that feature gin as their main ingredient. Not to mention, gin is pretty classy.
Vodka is one of the most versatile liquors out there. It comes in a variety of flavors and can be distilled from a variety of different ingredients.
For your brand new home bar, we recommend sticking with unflavored vodka, so you have more options. As you expand and build your home bar, feel free to add flavored versions.
You can’t have Margaritas without tequila. Margaritas are classic and are a great choice for any occasion or celebration. Of course, there are lots of other drinks that use tequila as their base, from Palomas to Bloody Marias.
If you are looking for a classic liquor to keep in your home bar, rum is the way to go. Dark rums are perfect for punches, and light rums work well in cocktails.
Each type of whiskey has distinct flavors and characteristics that make it unique. You’ll really have to try them out to see which you prefer.
Our recommendation? Bourbon will be a versatile option that mixes well with other flavors.
Liqueurs add another level of flavor to cocktails. They come in various flavor profiles, ranging from sour to spicy to sweet.
If you are looking for the best way to add that extra punch of flavor to your cocktails, your home bar needs some basic liqueurs. Here are some of our faves.
Amaretto is a great choice for your basic collection. The almond flavor pairs well with a variety of cocktails, especially during the holiday season.
2. Coffee Liqueur
Coffee and alcohol at the same time? Yes, please. Coffee liqueur is essential to any home bar. A variety of classic cocktails rely on it for an extra punch of depth.
3. Dry and Sweet Vermouth
You can’t make a martini without vermouth. Although it’s technically considered fortified wines, vermouth is essential to any mixologist's home bar. Choose whether you want to have sweet or dry on hand based on the cocktails you plan to make.
4. Orange Liqueur
Who doesn’t love a fruity cocktail? This liqueur is essential in Margaritas, Sidecars, and so much more.
5. Irish Cream
The perfect liqueur for the holiday season is none other than Irish cream. Your home bar shouldn’t be lacking when it comes time to toast for the season.
What mixers you stock will depend on what kind of cocktails you want to make. Some of the most popular ones include:
Here are some other mixers and add-ins you need to have stocked for your home bar.
1. Ohza Mimosas
Ohza is a great way to add some subtle, fruity flavors.
Bitters are a great choice if you are looking for a subtle mix-in to your cocktail to add depth and deep flavor. They can take the flavor profile of your mixed drink to the next level. Bitters are a must-have for any mixologist.
3. Simple Syrup
All it takes is water and sugar. It’s an almost effortless way to sweeten up your cocktails.
4. Sour Mix
The best combination of citrus and sour is a classic sour mix. No home bar is complete without it.
The classic red syrup found in most bars and home bars is grenadine. It’s sweet, syrupy, and essential for drinks like the tequila sunrise.
6. Tabasco Sauce and Worcestershire Sauce
For the cocktail lover in your life who prefers things on the savory side, stock up on Tabasco and Worcestershire sauce.
When paired with tomato juice, you get the famous Bloody Mary cocktail. You can mess around with other savory options and see what you get.
7. Milk, Half & Half, or Cream
Have these on hand when hosting, but only stock them when necessary due to their limited shelf life. Believe it or not, a large number of classic cocktails use a dairy element as their base. A White Russian is a good example of a cocktail that uses milk as its base.
It doesn’t have to be all dairy, though. In our experience, oat milk or almond milk make a pretty good cocktail base too. Aim for cool and creamy, and you will probably end up with something pretty good.
Garnishes are the perfect way to finish off a custom cocktail. Try slicing up some of your favorite fruits and topping off your glass with them.
If you’re feeling a little adventurous, you can experiment with different garnishes like fresh herbs, olives, or even onions. Anything can be a garnish if you try.
It’s vital to have the right glassware stocked away for whatever celebration comes next. Many professional bartenders and mixology enthusiasts like to use specific glassware when entertaining.
Keep a variety of glasses cleaned and ready to go so no one is left using the wrong glass for their drink of choice. Some basic glasses include:
As with any new endeavor, it’s important to start small. Choose your favorite flavors and liquors, and the more comfortable you get with your mixology skills, the more you can branch out.
All you need for a successful home bar is good storage space, the right tools, quality liquors and garnishes, and some tasteful glassware. Anyone can have a home bar with the time and dedication to building it. It doesn’t have to be a hard or expensive task.
Whether you take your spirits, shaken or stirred, or even blended, there’s something about making it from the comfort of your home that makes it taste even better.
Go ahead and grab your favorite glass and mix up something good to celebrate your new success. You’ve earned it. It’s time to break in your home bar, so grab a drink and celebrate the little things in life.