Jan. 2, 2012

How to: Stock a Bar

With the holidays sadly behind us, chances are your bar cart has taken a hit and might require replenishing. Though pre-Christmas liquor store runs might include heavy helpings of coffee liqueurs and Texas Mickeys of your family's favourite spirits, maintaining an entertainer's bar for the rest of the year requires a little more consideration as the type of occasion and guest you'll be enjoying and hosting will likely vary.

At our home, we keep a range of popular drinks and our own favourites. While it's always gracious to serve someones favourite drink to them (hence why we always stock up on gin and tonic when a certain friend of ours visits), it's also fun to introduce a guest to a new cocktail while in your home (hence why I always keep Chambord on our bar stand and a bottle of Limoncello in our fridge). To do this, it's important to know what's popular and to decide on a few signature cocktails to serve in your home. If you tend to host the same people over and over, make sure to switch up your signature cocktails every season and learn a few different drinks from the same spirits. As I'm no expert mixologist, I undertook a little research expedition to determine how to keep a showstopping bar.

For a well stocked bar cart keep:
  • Wine - I recommend keeping a few of your favourite bottles and then supplementing to match the food you'll be serving on a case by case basis
  • Classics for highballs - vodka, gin, and dark and light rum
  • Other common liquors in cocktails - bourbon, brandy, scotch, tequila and Canadian and rye whiskey
  • A few liqueurs - Amaretto, Irish Cream, Creme de Cacao or Coffee Liqueur (I don't feel you need all three), Vermouth and orange liqueur
  • Mixes - We're one of those families that keeps multiple types of juice on all hand at all times so if you're like us you might not need to supplement for highballs, but you might want to buy a bottle each of sour mix, bitters, lime juice and grenadine. Orange, cranberry, tomato and pineapple are all great juices to pick up before a big function to have a very impressive bar.
  • Sodas - I recommend buying a few tins each of tonic water, club soda, lemon soda, cola and ginger ale. They'll ensure you can make just about any highball your guest might desire. We prefer tins to larger bottles for space reasons and also because we rarely drink these beverages solo in our house.
  • Garnishes - Ideally you keep plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables on hand for snacks and cooking anyway, so you can simply steal an orange, lemon, celery stalk or olive from your kitchen to garnish your selections.
In addition to these bottles and perishables, you'll want a cocktail shaker (or two), a hawthorne strainer, ice bucket, blender, a wine decanter, cutting board, paring knife, bottle opener, corkscrew, red and white wine glasses, champagne flutes, highball glasses (tall and stout), and martini glasses. In my opinion, all other glasses and tools are nice additions, but not essential.

Do you agree? What are your essentials? What's your favourite cocktail?

Image via Apartment Therapy.

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