Inside the Mind of Your Favorite Bartender

Stocking your home bar

When stocking your home bar, you may not know where to start. One of the first places to start is your budget. How much do you have to spend to get your home bar going?

Once you establish your budget, then you want to navigate the types of brands you want to display in your home bar. Even with the most liberal of budgets, select one or two of your favorite brands from the following categories.


Rum, Cognac, Gin, Vodka, Bourbon, Tequila, Scotch and Liqueurs

If for instance, when you go out, and you drink Patron, definitely add that to your home bar collection. Then, add another reasonably priced premium Tequila to your collection.

When choosing other spirit brands, especially those you do not drink at all or often, do your research and base your selection on quality and not popularity. Many times, popular spirit brands are not the most feasible when it comes to making quality cocktails or for sipping.

Read books, ask your local bartender their opinion, research the internet and then make your decision from there. Plus, its always good to have a quality spirit at your home bar that you can introduce to people. For example, Elijah Craig is a great Bourbon, but a not so popular one. If you can introduce that particular Bourbon to a hardcore Bourbon fan, it will definitely increase your credibility as a home bartender.


There are several good wines at great prices, especially at retailers like Trader Joe’s. Get at least one bottle of wine for each grape varietal. The most popular varietals are Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Malbec, Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc. Other varietals include, Shiraz, Chianti, Riesling and Moscato, among others.

Do not necessarily get caught up in the year of a particular varietal unless you know for sure a vineyard or particular region that produces the varietal has had a bad year. For instance, a few years ago, California Merlots caught a bad rap because the weather for producing quality Merlots was not conducive. Therefore, people began to move to other red varietals like Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon. However, more recently, Merlot vineyards have been producing some great batches of wine, which unfortunately, have not been receiving the same kind of press as the bad years did.


When it comes to beer, always stock a big named macro brew such as Budweiser, Miller Lite, Bud Light, Coors Light or Michelob. These brands are easy drinking for the classic beer drinker as well as the beer neophyte. And, according to the season, you also to stock a few micro brew options. In the fall, you definitely want an Oktoberfest style beer. In the Winter, you want a Porter or a Stout. And in the Spring and Summer seasons, you want a nice IPA or a wheat beer.

Mixers and Juices

You typically want to keep all mixers and juices on hand, especially your favorites. The basics to have are tonic, club soda, ginger ale, ginger beer, apple juice, pineapple juice, orange juice Sprite (7-Up), cola and tomato juice.

Glassware and Tools

Glassware is very important. You want to have rocks glasses, cocktail glasses (Martini), highball glasses (pint or mixer glasses) and snifters.

Also, you want to have the proper tools, including a cocktail shaker, bar spoon, bar knife, wine key, bottle opener and a funnel.

Now that you have the basics, you can start expanding your bar. Add more spirits, and look for new drink recipes and techniques so that you can add to your home bar collection.

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