We don’t discriminate when booze is involved. And you shouldn’t either. ‘Bottoms up!’ is a motto we should all embrace. However, when setting up a home bar, a lot of you blokes somehow screw it up. Just vodka and some Jack Daniels knock-off won’t do — unless you hail from the trailer park or a dry county (yes, those still exist in this country). So if you’re drinking by yourself or throwing the shindig of the decade, here are some elements you need for your home bar.
The Basics: When stocking your bar, you absolutely must have the ingredients to make a Long Island Ice Tea — because then you will have most of the basics. We’re talking vodka, gin, rum, tequila, triple sec, and sour mix. And these are the bases for hundreds of other drinks. Make sure to add bourbon and scotch to that group and you should have a lot of happy campers on your hands. Or at least be on your way to being a roaring alcoholic.
Suggestion: Montezuma Tequila. Dirty and good all wrapped together.
This is the best book around when it comes to mixing drinks. It’s compact and easy to navigate when someone orders up a Zombie or an Alabama Slammer. It’s loaded with around 1,000 drinks and includes wine, beer, and every cocktail imaginable. And if you are of the dork variety and like to drop ‘facts’, the Bartender’s Bible has a few facts about certain drinks jammed inside its pages. The ladies certainly won’t be able to resist after you tell them the history of the mai-tai.
Suggestion: Laminate that thing, Dude. Shit will get soaked quick.
Neon: A home bar could be complete without a sign or light around it, but people know you mean business when you have a neon sign hanging behind you. Preferably, the sign would have a beer brand spread across it, but a sports team would also suffice. If you have the cash to drop, you can order one that combines your favorite sports team with your favorite beer. Now if only they could incorporate female nudity…
Suggestion: Bud Light makes some kickass neon signs.
Shakers & Such: When we’re making martinis or margaritas, we usually just skip the process of making them and drink directly from the liquor bottle. But if you have guests over, you probably want to put on a show. Shakers are a must for drinks like martinis and margaritas and a muddler is a necessity for any drink requiring fruit (Mojitos, Old Fashions, etc.). If you want to pour a precise drink, pick up a jigger for easy measuring. A bar spoon is handy for pouring black and tans, a church key is needed for opening cans of juice, and a combination bottle opener/wine key is a must for…opening things.
Suggestion: Pour spouts. That’s how real bartenders roll.
Mixers: Not everyone enjoys drinking their booze straight — like us. Because of this, make sure to have a few mixers stashed behind your bar. Coke and sprite are musts. Tonic and soda water are popular choices due to their low-calorie count and ability to take the sting out of gin and vodka. Sour mix, lime juice, and grenadine can find their way into many a drink, while orange, pineapple, and cranberry juice are essential for tropical drinks. If you’re in the mood to get a boost and be drunk at the same time (we call that Paradise), stock up with Red Bull and coffee.
Suggestion: A bunch of schnapps. Yeah, even the butterscotch stuff.
Garnishes: If you’re just having the dudes over for some brew and a game, just have a lime on hand for the Mexican beers. If some chicks are on the way over, make sure to stock up a little more on your garnishes. Olives, orange slices, limes, lemons, cherries, and onions should earn you enough points with the chicks to get some on top of the clothes stuff. If that’s what you’re after.
Suggestion: Mango. No one else will have it at their home bar.
Top Shelf: You have your basic liquors, so now it’s time to get fancy. Grab some premium stuff for when you or a guest wants to drink the stuff straight up. Grey Goose or Belvedere is the right choice for vodka, Bacardi for rum, Bombay is a nice gin, Patron will be your tequila, and grab some Maker’s Mark for whiskey. If you really want to go all out, you can step up to Johnny Walker Blue and Don Julio 1942. And take out a second mortgage on your house in order to pay for them.
Suggestion: Gentleman Jack. Great and relatively cheap.
Stools: Don’t be one of those douches and force your bar patrons to sit on your ratty sofa. Bar stools are the name of the sitting game when it comes to your home bar. Two or three will usually do it, but if you are having a big party, drag out a few extra chairs. If it’s just you doing the mixing and drinking, the ratty sofa will likely do the trick. Because you’ll be sleeping on it anyway.
Suggestion: At some point in the evening, be sure to use the joke “Mind if I push in your stool?”
Extras: You may not drink Baileys on the rocks, Mimosas, or be in the habit of mixing Purple Hooter shots for yourself, but it’s always good to have some of the of the fancy stuff on hand. Chambord, Grand Marnier, Irish Cream, and Jager can notch you some bonus points with guests or earn you a nice hangover when you are drinking your troubles away.
Suggestion: Stock some Frangelico. Because the bottle looks like Mrs. Butterworth.
Beer & Wine: Obviously, you will have beer in your home bar…unless your penis fell off a few years ago. The key to stocking your beer is making sure you have domestics and imports. While tastes vary, a safe route is Corona, Heineken, and a domestic light beer. The wine is for your more refined friends or the chicks you somehow coerced into dropping by your pad. Avoid white zin and pick up a nice white wine and table red. You may not drink it, but the chicks will. Oh, they so will.
Suggestion: Amstel Light, Tecate, and Pabst.