Guide to Home Bar Essentials

With the lagging economy, many people are choosing to entertain at home. Your typical bar has thousands of selections, but stocking up a home bar on a budget is easier than you think. Here’s our list of home bar essentials you should have on hand.

Home Bar Essentials – Spirits

Be sure to have one bottle of each on hand. Since Bourbon and Scotch are typically enjoyed straight up or on the rocks, it’s a good idea to splurge.

Vodka – We suggest Stolichnaya, a Russian vodka distilled from wheat and rye grain.

Gin – We suggest Bombay Sapphire, an English gin with lighter flavor than typical gin.

Rum – Dark rum is typically used for sipping, while light rum is more commonly used in cocktails.

Tequila – Silver and Reposado tequilas are best for mixing.


Scotch Whisky


Triple Sec or Cointreau

Red and White Wines – 60% red and 40% white is a good ratio for large groups of people.

Light and Dark Beers

Optional: Infused vodkas, coffee liqueurs, Irish Cream liqueurs, sweet Vermouth, Chambord liqueur.

Home Bar Essentials – Mixers

Soda Water

Tonic Water

Ginger Ale

Cola – Diet and Regular

Lemon Lime Soda

Cranberry Juice

Orange Juice


Simple Syrup – Make your own using our simple syrup recipe.

Fresh Sour – Make your own using our sweet and sour recipe.

Optional: Tomato juice, bottled water, half and half, milk, bitters.

Home Bar Essentials – Garnishes

Mint Sprigs



Pitted Green Olives


Optional: Sugar, Maraschino cherries, pearl onions.

Home Bar Essentials – Tools

European Shaker – Unlike a standard shaker, a European shaker has a built in strainer.

Long Cocktail Spoon


Hand-held Juicer

Jigger – A double sided tool used for measuring liquids.

Paring Knife – Used for cutting and peeling fruit.

Cutting Board

Corkscrew – We suggest “rabbit ears”.

Bottle Opener

Ice Bucket with Tongs

Optional: Cocktail napkins, stir sticks, toothpicks, bar towels, rimmer, blender.

Barware shopping can be a daunting task, which is why we recommend this OXO Steel 11 Piece Barware set, available at Bed, Bath and Beyond.

home bar essentials barware set

Home Bar Essentials – Glasses

Martini Glasses – Holds about 6 oz.

Highball Glasses – Holds about 8-10 oz.

All-Purpose Wine Glasses


Tell us: What is your home bar essential?

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Carri Brown

Mom of a monster and wife to a hot rodder. I don't look at the glass as half empty; I look at it as, "OMG! I'm almost out of vodka!" Subscribe to our newsletter to get all of the latest cocktail creations delivered directly to your inbox.

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Filed under: Bar Essentials
4 comments… add one
  • Rachel {at} Mommy Needs a Vacation January 19, 2012, 9:35 pm

    This is SUCH a great list! I think I have some shopping to do.

  • Elena January 22, 2012, 5:08 am

    Awesome list!

    We lucked out with stockings for a home bar – our wedding venue was a place you had to buy your own liquor before and we went all out b/c we didn’t want to be the douche’s who ran out of drinks. We still – to this day 10 years later – have crazy amounts of the liquors you don’t use every day – chambord, scotch, etc. It’s awesome when we have parties because we just pull it all out and I mix in the regular day-to-day stuff and we have a killer bar.

    I really need to invest in a barware set. Used to have one, but somehow lost it. Jess has seen how I mix my martinis in a random cup!

    • The Mixologists January 25, 2012, 4:58 pm

      I (jess) use a stainless steel water bottle mix up my martinis. Works so much better than the cocktail shaker I have.


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