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Stocking the Bar: Essentials for Entertaining

Stocking the Bar: Essentials for Entertaining



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When trying to be the better host in the new year, one question may arise: How do I stock my bar so I’m not scrounging up half-consumed bottles of cheap vodka at all of my parties? Stocking a bar for entertaining may seem like a tall order. When you go to your local drinking hole, there’s literally an entire wall filled with various liquors, mixers, and garnishes. Putting that together for basic entertaining seems excessive… and expensive.

And that would be correct. Having a killer bar for most entertaining scenarios is a bit of an undertaking, but it’s not going to empty your wallet or take up half of your kitchen. A small variety of basic ingredients is all you need, and you’ll be surprised at the dozens and dozens of cocktails you can make with a small bar, which will always be prepared for a party at any time of year.

Foundation Liquors
Gin, vodka, whiskey, rum, and tequila are the standard liquors that most of the people you will be hosting will be familiar with, and thus, want to drink. If we’re talking purely essentials, you’ll want mid-range liquors (think the big brands: Jack Daniel’s, Absolut, Cruzan) that will still taste good in various cocktails without draining your bank account. You can add different, more unique liquors and pricier brands to your bar over time, but these classics are a good jumping-off point.

Mixers
You want mixers that have a decent shelf life and that can be used for multiple cocktails, so stock simple, fizzy beverages, such as lemon-lime soda, tonic water, club soda, ginger beer, and cola. It’s also handy to have a variety of juices on hand, such as pineapple juice, apple cider, orange juice, cranberry juice, and tomato juice. These various ingredients can easily be mixed and matched to make most standard mixed drinks.

Garnishes
Add a little flourish to your bar with a few garnishes. Fresh lemons, limes, oranges, and celery can make a normal cocktail feel ultra-special with just a little handy knife work. Jarred standbys such as maraschino cherries, cocktail onions, and olives are also essential.

Seasonings
Salt and pepper are essential in any kitchen, and they’re necessary for your bar as well. Seasoned salt, celery salt, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and fine-grain sugar are ingredients in many cocktails, and you’ll find that your drinks are just missing a little something if they don’t have them. Additionally, while not seasonings per se, Angostura bitters and simple syrup are also necessary ingredients for any bar for an extra dash (or three) of flavor.

Fresh Herbs
Adding in fresh, herbal flavors to your drinks is one of the biggest trends at the moment. Mint is a classic standby for mojitos and fancy waters. Consider incorporating thyme, rosemary, and basil into your drinks for an extra dose of freshness.

Tools
Of course, you can’t have an essential bar without the most basic tools. At the very least, you’ll need a shaker, strainer, bottle opener, ice scoop, tongs, bar spoon, and a jigger. Make sure you also have standard barware, including martini glasses, highball glasses, and Champagne flutes.

This story was originally published by Allison Beck on Jan. 10, 2011.


The 12 bottles you need to stock your home bar

All you need to stock the perfect home bar is a dozen bottles and a few essential tools, according to David and Lesley Solmonson, authors of The 12 Bottle Bar. From there, the cocktail combinations are practically limitless.

Lesley Solmonson: You need 12 bottles: 7 spirits, 1 liqueur and what we call our four special ingredients, which are vermouths and bitters. [Ed. note: Find more information about each of the bottles on the Solmonsons' website.]

David and Lesley Solmonson Photo: Andy Kruse

There are two different ways you can approach the idea of cost with our 12 bottles. If you were to buy all 12 bottles, we have low-end choices and high-end choices. At the low end, it would be about $200 for your entire bar. You can make a good number of drinks with this for any number of people. If you were buying all high-end spirits, you're looking at about $350. But you don't have to buy all the bottles.

David Solmonson: In fact, we show you how to set up a one-bottle bar. What started cocktails was punch. If we go to that very basic element, you take a spirit and you mix non-spirity things with it -- citrus, sugar and spices -- and you can make glorious drinks.

We have a follow-up chapter called the three-bottle bar, where we introduce bitters and vermouth. Then a four-bottle bar, where we introduce liqueur. You can mix and match. If you only drink one spirit, you still find use in the recipes.


The 12 bottles you need to stock your home bar

All you need to stock the perfect home bar is a dozen bottles and a few essential tools, according to David and Lesley Solmonson, authors of The 12 Bottle Bar. From there, the cocktail combinations are practically limitless.

Lesley Solmonson: You need 12 bottles: 7 spirits, 1 liqueur and what we call our four special ingredients, which are vermouths and bitters. [Ed. note: Find more information about each of the bottles on the Solmonsons' website.]

David and Lesley Solmonson Photo: Andy Kruse

There are two different ways you can approach the idea of cost with our 12 bottles. If you were to buy all 12 bottles, we have low-end choices and high-end choices. At the low end, it would be about $200 for your entire bar. You can make a good number of drinks with this for any number of people. If you were buying all high-end spirits, you're looking at about $350. But you don't have to buy all the bottles.

David Solmonson: In fact, we show you how to set up a one-bottle bar. What started cocktails was punch. If we go to that very basic element, you take a spirit and you mix non-spirity things with it -- citrus, sugar and spices -- and you can make glorious drinks.

We have a follow-up chapter called the three-bottle bar, where we introduce bitters and vermouth. Then a four-bottle bar, where we introduce liqueur. You can mix and match. If you only drink one spirit, you still find use in the recipes.


The 12 bottles you need to stock your home bar

All you need to stock the perfect home bar is a dozen bottles and a few essential tools, according to David and Lesley Solmonson, authors of The 12 Bottle Bar. From there, the cocktail combinations are practically limitless.

Lesley Solmonson: You need 12 bottles: 7 spirits, 1 liqueur and what we call our four special ingredients, which are vermouths and bitters. [Ed. note: Find more information about each of the bottles on the Solmonsons' website.]

David and Lesley Solmonson Photo: Andy Kruse

There are two different ways you can approach the idea of cost with our 12 bottles. If you were to buy all 12 bottles, we have low-end choices and high-end choices. At the low end, it would be about $200 for your entire bar. You can make a good number of drinks with this for any number of people. If you were buying all high-end spirits, you're looking at about $350. But you don't have to buy all the bottles.

David Solmonson: In fact, we show you how to set up a one-bottle bar. What started cocktails was punch. If we go to that very basic element, you take a spirit and you mix non-spirity things with it -- citrus, sugar and spices -- and you can make glorious drinks.

We have a follow-up chapter called the three-bottle bar, where we introduce bitters and vermouth. Then a four-bottle bar, where we introduce liqueur. You can mix and match. If you only drink one spirit, you still find use in the recipes.


The 12 bottles you need to stock your home bar

All you need to stock the perfect home bar is a dozen bottles and a few essential tools, according to David and Lesley Solmonson, authors of The 12 Bottle Bar. From there, the cocktail combinations are practically limitless.

Lesley Solmonson: You need 12 bottles: 7 spirits, 1 liqueur and what we call our four special ingredients, which are vermouths and bitters. [Ed. note: Find more information about each of the bottles on the Solmonsons' website.]

David and Lesley Solmonson Photo: Andy Kruse

There are two different ways you can approach the idea of cost with our 12 bottles. If you were to buy all 12 bottles, we have low-end choices and high-end choices. At the low end, it would be about $200 for your entire bar. You can make a good number of drinks with this for any number of people. If you were buying all high-end spirits, you're looking at about $350. But you don't have to buy all the bottles.

David Solmonson: In fact, we show you how to set up a one-bottle bar. What started cocktails was punch. If we go to that very basic element, you take a spirit and you mix non-spirity things with it -- citrus, sugar and spices -- and you can make glorious drinks.

We have a follow-up chapter called the three-bottle bar, where we introduce bitters and vermouth. Then a four-bottle bar, where we introduce liqueur. You can mix and match. If you only drink one spirit, you still find use in the recipes.


The 12 bottles you need to stock your home bar

All you need to stock the perfect home bar is a dozen bottles and a few essential tools, according to David and Lesley Solmonson, authors of The 12 Bottle Bar. From there, the cocktail combinations are practically limitless.

Lesley Solmonson: You need 12 bottles: 7 spirits, 1 liqueur and what we call our four special ingredients, which are vermouths and bitters. [Ed. note: Find more information about each of the bottles on the Solmonsons' website.]

David and Lesley Solmonson Photo: Andy Kruse

There are two different ways you can approach the idea of cost with our 12 bottles. If you were to buy all 12 bottles, we have low-end choices and high-end choices. At the low end, it would be about $200 for your entire bar. You can make a good number of drinks with this for any number of people. If you were buying all high-end spirits, you're looking at about $350. But you don't have to buy all the bottles.

David Solmonson: In fact, we show you how to set up a one-bottle bar. What started cocktails was punch. If we go to that very basic element, you take a spirit and you mix non-spirity things with it -- citrus, sugar and spices -- and you can make glorious drinks.

We have a follow-up chapter called the three-bottle bar, where we introduce bitters and vermouth. Then a four-bottle bar, where we introduce liqueur. You can mix and match. If you only drink one spirit, you still find use in the recipes.


The 12 bottles you need to stock your home bar

All you need to stock the perfect home bar is a dozen bottles and a few essential tools, according to David and Lesley Solmonson, authors of The 12 Bottle Bar. From there, the cocktail combinations are practically limitless.

Lesley Solmonson: You need 12 bottles: 7 spirits, 1 liqueur and what we call our four special ingredients, which are vermouths and bitters. [Ed. note: Find more information about each of the bottles on the Solmonsons' website.]

David and Lesley Solmonson Photo: Andy Kruse

There are two different ways you can approach the idea of cost with our 12 bottles. If you were to buy all 12 bottles, we have low-end choices and high-end choices. At the low end, it would be about $200 for your entire bar. You can make a good number of drinks with this for any number of people. If you were buying all high-end spirits, you're looking at about $350. But you don't have to buy all the bottles.

David Solmonson: In fact, we show you how to set up a one-bottle bar. What started cocktails was punch. If we go to that very basic element, you take a spirit and you mix non-spirity things with it -- citrus, sugar and spices -- and you can make glorious drinks.

We have a follow-up chapter called the three-bottle bar, where we introduce bitters and vermouth. Then a four-bottle bar, where we introduce liqueur. You can mix and match. If you only drink one spirit, you still find use in the recipes.


The 12 bottles you need to stock your home bar

All you need to stock the perfect home bar is a dozen bottles and a few essential tools, according to David and Lesley Solmonson, authors of The 12 Bottle Bar. From there, the cocktail combinations are practically limitless.

Lesley Solmonson: You need 12 bottles: 7 spirits, 1 liqueur and what we call our four special ingredients, which are vermouths and bitters. [Ed. note: Find more information about each of the bottles on the Solmonsons' website.]

David and Lesley Solmonson Photo: Andy Kruse

There are two different ways you can approach the idea of cost with our 12 bottles. If you were to buy all 12 bottles, we have low-end choices and high-end choices. At the low end, it would be about $200 for your entire bar. You can make a good number of drinks with this for any number of people. If you were buying all high-end spirits, you're looking at about $350. But you don't have to buy all the bottles.

David Solmonson: In fact, we show you how to set up a one-bottle bar. What started cocktails was punch. If we go to that very basic element, you take a spirit and you mix non-spirity things with it -- citrus, sugar and spices -- and you can make glorious drinks.

We have a follow-up chapter called the three-bottle bar, where we introduce bitters and vermouth. Then a four-bottle bar, where we introduce liqueur. You can mix and match. If you only drink one spirit, you still find use in the recipes.


The 12 bottles you need to stock your home bar

All you need to stock the perfect home bar is a dozen bottles and a few essential tools, according to David and Lesley Solmonson, authors of The 12 Bottle Bar. From there, the cocktail combinations are practically limitless.

Lesley Solmonson: You need 12 bottles: 7 spirits, 1 liqueur and what we call our four special ingredients, which are vermouths and bitters. [Ed. note: Find more information about each of the bottles on the Solmonsons' website.]

David and Lesley Solmonson Photo: Andy Kruse

There are two different ways you can approach the idea of cost with our 12 bottles. If you were to buy all 12 bottles, we have low-end choices and high-end choices. At the low end, it would be about $200 for your entire bar. You can make a good number of drinks with this for any number of people. If you were buying all high-end spirits, you're looking at about $350. But you don't have to buy all the bottles.

David Solmonson: In fact, we show you how to set up a one-bottle bar. What started cocktails was punch. If we go to that very basic element, you take a spirit and you mix non-spirity things with it -- citrus, sugar and spices -- and you can make glorious drinks.

We have a follow-up chapter called the three-bottle bar, where we introduce bitters and vermouth. Then a four-bottle bar, where we introduce liqueur. You can mix and match. If you only drink one spirit, you still find use in the recipes.


The 12 bottles you need to stock your home bar

All you need to stock the perfect home bar is a dozen bottles and a few essential tools, according to David and Lesley Solmonson, authors of The 12 Bottle Bar. From there, the cocktail combinations are practically limitless.

Lesley Solmonson: You need 12 bottles: 7 spirits, 1 liqueur and what we call our four special ingredients, which are vermouths and bitters. [Ed. note: Find more information about each of the bottles on the Solmonsons' website.]

David and Lesley Solmonson Photo: Andy Kruse

There are two different ways you can approach the idea of cost with our 12 bottles. If you were to buy all 12 bottles, we have low-end choices and high-end choices. At the low end, it would be about $200 for your entire bar. You can make a good number of drinks with this for any number of people. If you were buying all high-end spirits, you're looking at about $350. But you don't have to buy all the bottles.

David Solmonson: In fact, we show you how to set up a one-bottle bar. What started cocktails was punch. If we go to that very basic element, you take a spirit and you mix non-spirity things with it -- citrus, sugar and spices -- and you can make glorious drinks.

We have a follow-up chapter called the three-bottle bar, where we introduce bitters and vermouth. Then a four-bottle bar, where we introduce liqueur. You can mix and match. If you only drink one spirit, you still find use in the recipes.


The 12 bottles you need to stock your home bar

All you need to stock the perfect home bar is a dozen bottles and a few essential tools, according to David and Lesley Solmonson, authors of The 12 Bottle Bar. From there, the cocktail combinations are practically limitless.

Lesley Solmonson: You need 12 bottles: 7 spirits, 1 liqueur and what we call our four special ingredients, which are vermouths and bitters. [Ed. note: Find more information about each of the bottles on the Solmonsons' website.]

David and Lesley Solmonson Photo: Andy Kruse

There are two different ways you can approach the idea of cost with our 12 bottles. If you were to buy all 12 bottles, we have low-end choices and high-end choices. At the low end, it would be about $200 for your entire bar. You can make a good number of drinks with this for any number of people. If you were buying all high-end spirits, you're looking at about $350. But you don't have to buy all the bottles.

David Solmonson: In fact, we show you how to set up a one-bottle bar. What started cocktails was punch. If we go to that very basic element, you take a spirit and you mix non-spirity things with it -- citrus, sugar and spices -- and you can make glorious drinks.

We have a follow-up chapter called the three-bottle bar, where we introduce bitters and vermouth. Then a four-bottle bar, where we introduce liqueur. You can mix and match. If you only drink one spirit, you still find use in the recipes.