Do you keep a bar collection at home? I started building out my bar collection once I was out of school and actually living on my own. In the last few years, I’ve figured out what liquors, ingredients, utensils and necessities I like to keep for my at home bar. And today, I’m sharing my guide with you!
Your home bar can really be whatever works best for you. If you’re an avid entertainer or host and enjoy making drinks for friends and company, your home bar will likely be much different from someone who just likes learning and experimenting on their own. Take some time to experiment and learn what you like before you really start to build your collection. That way you’ll make sure you only stock your bar with things you’ll use regularly.
Here’s what you need to build your at home bar.
A head’s up, though: start with the easy stuff and work your way up from there! You’ll figure out what you really want or need in your home bar once you start using it regularly.
A cabinet, cart, and/or shelf. I started with a cart in my old apartment (which I still have, it’s just on my porch now). When I moved to my current apartment, the cart didn’t fit quite right, so I switched to a shelf and a corner cabinet. My parents found the cabinet at a consignment store in their town for just $40, and the shelf came from a local antique store here in Chattanooga (The Refindery, if you’re curious).
As far as carts go, there are plenty of different styles out there that will fit your needs. You can opt for a simple but elegant cart, pick one that has space for bottle and mug storage, or go for a cart that’s really built for entertaining. Or find a cart that’s made for a little bit of everything.
Glassware. Different drinks call for different glassware. I tend to keep a set of tumblers or rocks glasses, a few glass mugs, a few stemless wine glasses, and some julep cups. Again, your glassware can be customized according to the drinks you like to make the most. I’m not a huge fan of Moscow mules, so I don’t keep mule mugs. If you’re a beer aficionado, you’ll probably want a variety of beer glasses that are appropriate for different styles.
A bartender set, or at least the basics. You can get by with a couple shot glasses, a mason jar, a regular strainer, and a wooden spoon for muddling (at least I did for a while). But having a real bartender set changes everything. You can find smaller bartender sets that fit your specific needs: like a set made for cocktail mixing.
Liquor. Obviously. I keep at least one bottle of the basics: vodka, bourbon/whiskey, gin, and rum. I stay far away from tequila, so that’s rarely on my shelf, unless I’m hosting friends who are tequila drinkers. And of course, I keep at least a bottle of red wine (cabernet, usually), and rosé in the summer.
Liqueurs and mixers. These are your schnapps, coffee liqueurs, cremes, etc. I don’t keep a ton of these regularly, but I like Bailey’s and Kahlua, especially in the winter. Some kind of orange liqueur—triple sec, Cointreau, that kind of stuff—is great to have on hand for margaritas, if you’re into those.
Bitters. I’m an Old Fashioned girl, so I keep angostura bitters on hand for those. I’ve got some orange bitters, too, that were left over after a podcast episode, which are nice in some cocktails. There are bitters available in a wide variety of flavors from a bunch of brands and makers.What's in your at home bar collection? Click To Tweet
Napkins and/or coasters. Fun cocktail napkins are an easy option, as they’re readily available in a variety of patterns or artwork. Coasters are nice, too. I’m on the hunt for some nice cloth or burlap coasters.
Fun straws. Most big stores like Target or Walmart keep paper straws in fun patterns in their dollar bins or party sections. These are an easy way to add a fun, decorative touch to drinks, especially when entertaining. I also keep a few stainless steel straws for my own use.How to build your at home bar collection Click To Tweet
Pitcher, carafe, or dispenser. These are especially nice for batch cocktails, punches, sangrias, or anything you’d make for a large group. I keep a pitcher and carafe for sangria and punch, which work just as well if I ever make a big batch cocktail. I would like a nice punch bowl eventually, though.
Building your at home bar is a process, but once you get a hang of what you like to make, you’ll have a good idea of what you need. Once you’ve got your bar going, you can start making all kinds of fun drinks and cocktails! Here are some of my favorites:
- Dixie Citrus Smash
- Peach Southern Belle
- Tennessee Meyer Lemonade
- Strawberry Mint Julep
- Winter White Sangria
- Fall Sangria
What do you keep in your at home bar? What is ONE bar item you couldn’t live without?
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