Stocking the Bar

A well-stocked bar is a valuable tool for entertaining guests, decorating the house, or dealing with visiting in-laws. So here's everything you need to create the ideal party tool/room accent/blessed sanctuary.

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The Basics

Liquor: You won't go wrong with 750 ml bottles of moderately priced brands (no more than about $20, sometimes much cheaper) that have name recognition -- Jose Cuervo, Jack Daniel's, Absolut, etc.

[ ] Gin

[ ] Vodka

[ ] Rum

[ ] Bourbon

[ ] Scotch

[ ] Tequila

[ ] Sweet vermouth

[ ] Dry vermouth

[ ] Cointreau

Wine: Have fun sampling several different kinds under $10 -- not all in one night -- then pick your two favorites and serve them as your house wines.
[ ] White wine
[ ] Red wine

Advanced Touch
Sippin' Whiskey: This spirit has always been a hit with professional drinkers, but after years of being eclipsed by vodka, it's coming back into vogue. Single-malt scotches and small-batch bourbons (both are types of whiskey) are particularly desirable.
[ ] Single-malt scotch (e.g., The Glenlivet 12 Year Old)
[ ] Irish whiskey (e.g., Black Bush)
[ ] Bourbon (e.g., Wild Turkey Rare Breed)

Mixers & Garnishes

The Basics

Juice: See? Drinking



[ ] Cranberry

[ ] Orange

[ ] Tomato

Soda: Doubles as tasty drink accent and refreshment for designated drivers.

[ ] Cola

[ ] Lemon-lime

[ ] Ginger ale

[ ] Tonic

[ ] Seltzer

Maraschino Cherries: Get 'em with stems, since they're easier to pluck out of a glass. Plus, tying knots in them with your tongue is still one of the all-time great bar tricks.
[ ] Maraschino cherries

Olives: No martini is complete without them (unless it's a Gibson, in which case you'll need a pearl onion).
[ ] Green pitted olives

Lemons and Limes: Slice them up beforehand to save time when company arrives.
[ ] Lemons
[ ] Limes

Advanced Touch
Exotic additions: Feeling tropical? Feeling crazy? Then you probably have malaria. Still, you can't ignore your guests, who may be in the mood for a fruity island treat or an oddball drink that requires an unusual ingredient. Luckily, the ones here can be found in any supermarket or liquor store. Some ingredients should be fresh -- impress guests by pulling mint straight off a plant -- while others can be bought well in advance.
[ ] Cream
[ ] Coconut milk
[ ] Grenadine
[ ] Tabasco and Worcestershire sauce
[ ] Angostura bitters
[ ] Coarse salt and granulated sugar
[ ] Pineapple juice
[ ] Mint
[ ] Sour mix


The Basics

Recipe Book:

The Craft of the Cocktail

by master mixologist Dale DeGroff provides 500 illustrated recipes as well as cocktail lore that, unlike a great martini, is never dry.

[ ]

The Craft of the Cocktail

Ice Bucket and Tongs: A bucket with a lid and a liner keeps ice colder longer, and tongs keep grubby mitts where they belong.
[ ] Ice bucket
[ ] Tongs

Cocktail Shaker: Buy a Boston shaker -- a glass tumbler paired with a metal tumbler -- along with a Hawthorne strainer (the one with the coiled edge) instead of the more popular all-metal shaker. The setup is more versatile, gets colder faster, and makes you instantly look like a pro.
[ ] Boston cocktail shaker
[ ] Hawthorne strainer

Glasses: Remember, people who drink tend to drop things, so there's no need to spend a lot of money.
[ ] Highball
[ ] Lowball
[ ] Martini
[ ] White wine
[ ] Shot

Napkins: You don't want to find rings on your coffee table or olive pits in your plants.
[ ] Cocktail napkins

Advanced Touch
Bar Tools: Find a good-looking set that contains everything you need. Then display it for people to look at in slack-jawed awe.
[ ] Jiggers
[ ] Multipurpose opener
[ ] Corkscrew
[ ] Bar spoons
[ ] Wood muddler (for crushing herbs, sugar, etc. -- mojito, anyone?)