Bar carts have become very popular the last few years, and with restrictions due to Covid-19 people had time not only to bake banana bread, but also to immerse into the homemade cocktails and stock their own little bar.
Here I will show you how to stock your home bar like a pro. For real. To make it simple, let's divide it in categories: Bottles, mixers, fruit, ice, syrups, tools, glassware and extras.
How do you know what bottles you need? Well, the question is what do you usually order in a cocktail bar? What is your favourite spirit? What do you enjoy sipping?
Start small, buy some Vodka, Gin and Rum. Then the next month you buy Tequila and Whisky. Unless you have the money to buy loads of bottles, keep stocking the bar every month, little by little. If you are not planning on just sipping your spirits, then it's not really worth it to spend £50 on a good whisky to be mixed in a cocktail or to be infused with something.
You will soon realise that having only spirits is not that good for a home bar, you will need liqueurs too. Like the spirits, start small and keep adding to your collection. Start with some coffee liqueur, Triple sec, sweet & dry vermouth, a bitter and soon you will notice all the classic cocktails you can start making at home. Negronis, Espresso martinis, Margaritas, Manhattans and much more.
For any cocktail enthusiast mixers and syrups are a must. When it comes on buying mixers, the possibilities are overwhelming so it might work for you to buy mixers on the day you plan to drink or surprise your house guests. Syrups in the other hand can be bought online or made at home -I recommend the second one, and soon I'll write a story about How to make syrups-.
You will find it very hard trying to make a cocktail without any tools. Like before, start small and keep adding as you go. Tools you will need are: Mixing glass, Cocktail shaker -avoid glass shakers-, Jigger, Strainers and a Bar spoon. This is the basic you will need to get started, and they are very easy to find online.
On the day you plan to have a well made tipple alone of with your friends, decide what you want to make. Then go and buy the fruit you will need to make a syrup or just to mix your drink. Fresh fruit & herbs are a must for your drinks to become special.
Your drink will be as good as your ice. The ice you can make at home, in a little ice cube tray won't be of much quality, it will have sediments making it look cloudy. And will dilute very quickly, making your drink watery. The best way to make ice last longer is to use big cubed/round ice moulds using filtered water. Using a one large block of ice in your drinks will make the dilution very slow, keeping your drink at the right temperature without compromising the taste.
Last but not least, is the glassware. It is not a priority unless you really want to have the full experience of serving a proper drink at home. I always have glassware for each drink style. Martini, rock, highball and mule mugs being the classic glassware.
I will always recommend, if you want to start your journey as a home bartender is to read. And read from people with experience, you will discover different flavour profiles and how to match them with other ingredients. There are great books in the market.
The more you get into, the more you want to know and expand in what you can do at home. Try buying spices, different liqueurs, buy aromatic bitters, check for classic recipes and see what you will need to re-create it at home. Curiosity is key.
If you liked this story feel free to give a tip! If not, that's cool. Either way make sure you make an outstanding drink!