Walk into any decent-sized liquor store and you’ll find hundreds, maybe thousands of different spirits. Even in seemingly narrow categories, like anejo tequila or rye whiskey, you can wind up with dozens of items to choose from.
So how does the aspiring bartender or mixologist kick off their collection without spending a fortune? In our Stock Your Bar series, we’re going to show you how you can start your own home bar for $500, $250 or even $100.
A word on common non-alcoholic ingredients
No matter how much you invest in your bar, there are a few essentials that will make or break your cocktails. Most of the below items are perishable and should be purchased as close to use date as reasonably possible. Here are the details:
Juice: This usually means lemon or lime juice, but also in the mix are orange, grapefruit, pineapple, passion fruit and anything else you can imagine. You’ll never have scurvy again!
Dairy: Depending on your drink preference, you may never use dairy but there are a lot of great drinks that include raw egg, milk and cream. As a plus, you likely have these items sitting around for coffee, baking or breakfast.
Garnishes: These take many forms: twists, peels, sprigs, slices, wheels, half-wheels, rims, pinches and more. Some are for looks, others for aromatics and some more directly impact flavor. You can skip these, if you must, but very often you’ll be left with an incomplete drink. The good news is that your supply of limes and lemons that you’re using for juice above will also provide many a garnish.
Before we move onto the price point recommendations, I have a quick questionnaire for you. Write your answers down to these questions and keep them off to the side for future posts.
1) What is your favorite drink or spirit?
2) Are there any spirits you absolutely detest?
3) Are you making drinks for yourself? For others? Both?
Done? Great. In our next post, we’ll talk about how to stock your bar for just a $100 without resorting to the bottom shelf. Stay tuned!