Boozy Bar Basics: What You Need To Bump Up Your At-Home Bartending Game

Love to host parties? It's time to start thinking about your home bar situation. Let this flexible liquor list serve as your guide to bar basics.

With the holiday season right around the corner, you may already be looking ahead to all the upcoming parties. If you often open up your home to host then it’s time to start thinking about your bar situation. Sure, swinging by the store and picking up a few bottles of wine and bubbly before a gathering is great. But, it’s also fun to venture into the colorful world of cocktails. Let this flexible liquor list serve as your guide to bar basics.

The Liquor List

Vodka: A Bottle of Plain & A Few Flavored

Even if vodka isn’t your go-to liquor of choice, it’s still a good one to have on hand since it’s so versatile. Vodka is great for things like vodka tonics, screwdrivers, cosmopolitans (oh yeah, go ahead and channel your inner Sex and The City character), bloody marys, moscow mules, vodka martinis, and the list goes on. You can also just add a splash to juice or soda and have yourself an instant party-worthy drink.

Along with regular vodka, I love to play around with flavored variations. One of my favorites? Espresso vodka! Watch the video below as I whip up my popular Creamy Coffee Bomb. This recipe is a definite crowd-pleaser. Since it’s such a hit with guests, I even included it in my cookbook, FOOD YOU WANT For The Life You Crave.

Rum: A Light & Dark

Rum will give you the ultimate beach vibe. It comes from the Caribbean and is distilled from molasses. If you want to come across as a DIY mixologist who really knows what they’re doing then you’ll want to include at least two bottles in your home bar: a light rum and a dark rum.

Light rums are the superstar in tropical-tasting sips, like the daiquiri, Piña Colada, and mojito. If you have my cookbook, make sure to flip to page 238 for my killer Lychee Mojito recipe. You’re welcome! Plus, check out the video below for a fun Frozen Pineapple Mango Daiquiri, which uses light rum and mango vodka (see what I mean about that flavored vodka?)

Dark rum is aged and offers up a bolder flavor. So, it’s great in punches and is often sipped straight up.

Gin

If you or your guests are into martinis then you need some gin! Plus, gin is one of the base spirits for a lot of different cocktails (like a classic Tom Collins or gin and tonic). So, which bottle should earn a spot on your shelf? Well, there are four varieties: London Dry, Plymouth, Old Tom, and Genever. If you’re not the biggest gin drinker and just want to stock just one bottle in your collection then opt for a London Dry — it’s considered one of the most versatile.

Whiskey

Many people enjoy whiskey simply neat or on the rocks. But, with a lot of variations on the market, a little whiskey can also be the start of a great cocktail. Think: old fashioned, Manhattan, whiskey sour, mint julep, Irish coffee, and the list goes on.

Which whiskey you choose to feature in your home bar is completely up to you! Each style has its own unique characteristics and uses. For example, bourbon is an American whiskey used in drinks like an old fashioned, while scotch is used in drinks like the classic Rob Roy.

My husband is partial to Japanese whiskey and straight-up bourbons. Take a peek at the ingredient list for your favorite whiskey drinks and load up on the ones you’ll use the most. If you wanna impress your guests, I suggest loading up on a variety and they’ll love you forever.

Tequila

Margs on Taco Tuesday, anyone?! While tequila is famous for its starring role in margaritas (and there are a lot of flavorful margarita recipes out there to try), you can also try a Paloma (three parts grapefruit soda, one part tequila), a Tequila Sunrise (tequila, OJ, and grenadine), or combine it with another chaser of choice.

When shopping for tequila, here’s something you should know: There are five types! They are: blanco (silver), joven (gold), reposado (aged), añejo (extra aged) and extra añejo (ultra-aged). So which should you choose for your home bar? Well, silver tequila is called the spirit of the agave plant in its purest form and is considered the most versatile. So, if you’re only looking to stock one bottle, that’s likely your best option.



Some Other Bartender Goodies To Grab

  • Liqueur – My favorite is Limoncello!
  • Bitters – Orange is one of the most popular
  • Vermouth – You’ll need this for martinis
  • Oranges, Limes, and other great garnishes
  • Fun ice molds – Try this round sphere mold for the whiskey lover or this diamond mold for your next girl’s night!
  • Fully-Stocked Mixology kit – From a double-sided jigger to a mojito muddler, this 10-piece bar tool set comes equipped with pretty much everything you need to become a pro cocktail concocter!