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Thread: What are the key elements to a home bar?

  1. #1
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    Default What are the key elements to a home bar?

    I've been trying to build a stock of home bar products. I enjoy the idea of entertaining friends and family when they stop by and its hard to go wrong with alcoholic beverages...especially during the holiday season. But what are the key products that should be consistantly stocked to have a more complete home bar?

    Currently I have these open for consumption or available to be opened...
    4 100% Agave tequilas (Don Valente and Patron {for comparison})
    2 Mixtos Tequilas (Hussongs and Penjamo)
    1 Sotol Anejo (HDC)
    2 Whiskeys (Jack Daniels and Kentucky Deluxe)
    1 Brandy (Presidente)
    1 Red Wine (Coastal Estates Cabrinet)
    1 White Wine (not sure the name, its Pinot Grigio)
    12 Pack of American Ale (Bud Light)
    8 bottles of Microbrews or Imported Lagers (Ekstra Soviet Lager, James Boags Lager, and Flying Dog)
    1 bottle of Triple Sec (Hirram Walker)

    What suggestions do you have to make my home bar more complete? I have set aside about 100.00 to get things more set up for the holidays. I thought about Vodka, Rum, Gin, Cognac, Single Malts, and Scotch...but I dont know brands, quality or prices of most of these. I also dont have any flavored cordials on the shelf...

    What is the best area to spend the 100.00 at?
    Tequila Don Valente....ask for it.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: What are the key elements to a home bar?

    Well I happen to be a bartender now... at least some days. I will try to help.

    In addition to what you already have there, I will say that a LOT of people order drinks made with vodka, and probably 90% of the martinis I make at the bar where I work are vodka martinis NOT gin as I thought would be the case, so having a bottle of vodka on hand is pretty useful for making a lot of drinks. I wouldn't buy the most expensive stuff since you only have $100 to finish stocking your bar with. Stolichnaya, Absolut, and Ketel One are all pretty popular choices that you can find everywhere in the $20 price range. Grey Goose is nicer stuff and also popular but is more expensive. Stay away from Smirnoff, it is the "well" vodka at most places and is considered as cheap and unforgivable to vodka drinkers as Cuervo Gold is to us Tequila people.

    For the holidays, you want to also stock up on things to make hot drinks like Irish coffee and buttered rum. Grab a bottle of Baileys (Irish cream), you already have whiskey but if you feel like it you could also get a bottle of Jameson (Irish whiskey), and you NEED a bottle of rum in your bar... right now I recommend you try Ron Centenario Anejo Especial 5yr (Costa Rican rum) which you can get from wineandliqourdepot.com for less than $16 at the moment. Another good rum is Mount Gay Extra Old, but its a bit more pricey.

    As far as flavored cordials you would commonly use or get asked for in a bar, I would stock Grenadine, Amaretto, and Cointreau... and possibly Chambord (or other rasberry liquor), Midori, Tuaca, and Limoncello if you have enough money. Limoncello is an Italian lemon-flavored liquor enjoyed all over Italy and by Italian families everywhere and is particularly refreshing served straight up as a chilled shot after a big meal. Just keep the bottle in the refrigerator and bring it out with dessert.

    EDIT: One more thing I forgot to mention that you need on hand for any special occasion... Champagne! Korbel Brut is fairly inexpensive and is the standard stuff of most celebrations. Feel free to spend more if you are so inclined.

    Is there any particular drinks you plan to be serving?

  3. #3
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    Default Re: What are the key elements to a home bar?

    Thanks!

    I do not have any particular drinks I've thought about making. I did make a thread for holiday styled cocktails with agave so hopefully I'll come up with something in the near future. But I wanted to have the supplies to make common cocktails.

    Vodka needs to be in the mix although I find vodka undrinkable...gin I guess can be pushed off my list and cognac is too pricey right now. With what you mentioned, Vodka and Rum will run me about 50.00 and I could use 50.00 for cordials. Chambord is pricey but Grenadine and some others you mentioned arent overly expensive. Midori makes an interesting twist to most all cocktails so I may grab a bottle of green melon. I guess cognac and single malts are expencive and not many people request cocktails with those ingrediants so I should wait.

    Thanks for the input. I also have a very large supply of red and white wines (I made them out of welch's)...so if I run out of Coastal Estates, I will bring out the homeade...which is called Brad's Premium Purp (HAHA)....

    Your advise will be used. I bet its fun being a bartender, I like to pretend I'm one at home but to do that as a job would be neat.
    Tequila Don Valente....ask for it.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: What are the key elements to a home bar?

    Add to your bar as the need dictates. While I don't have a bar yet (we have plans for an addtion that will include a very nice bar), I do have most of the components already. One thing I didn't see mentioned is Scotch - possibly something like J&B or Chivas. Maybe some tonic water?


    Robert

  5. #5
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    Default Re: What are the key elements to a home bar?

    Well Scotch is Scotch Whiskey, and he already has 2 bottles of whiskey and is trying to complete a basic setup not get multiple varieties of each alcohol. I mentioned Jameson (Irish Whiskey) as just a pure extra he could get because it makes coffee into Irish coffee. To be honest though, unless you have a serious whiskey connoisseur on your hands, few average drinkers can actually tell the difference between a drink made with American whiskey, Canadian whiskey, Irish whiskey, or Scotch whiskey. Its all whiskey.

    As for tonic water, gin & tonic and vodka & tonic are pretty much the only 2 drinks people ever ask for that use it, and in my experience very few people ever order them. The drinks do have their loyal devotees, however at my bar, the tonic water gets used MAYBE once a week for 1 person. Its definitely not that popular (at least here). If you do want to pick it up, its easy enough at any grocery store... its probably about a buck for a small bottle that will likely last you through the holidays and beyond.

    On the Chambord note, you can get a bottle of "Razzmatazz" rasberry liquor which tastes almost the same and its MUCH cheaper. Similar to how buying Gran Gala is MUCH cheaper than Grand Mariner and is almost the same.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: What are the key elements to a home bar?

    Well I do appreciate the clarification on the whiskeys. I do have 2 american whiskeys, but I wouldnt have anyone drink Kentucky Deluxe if there life depended on it...haha.

    I was a bit clueless in Irish Whiskey, Canadian, Scotch...etc...so they are all types of whiskey? And I'm guessing Scotch is Scottish Whisky? Where does single malt fall in these catagories? Can the same cocktails be made with any of these. I would think sipping straight would be the big difference but is cheap whiskey for cocktails the route to go....?

    As for tonic water, I have used it before for gin and tonic...although can Club Soda be substituted or is it the same basis? I do have Club Soda, its probably not too fizzy anymore but I will use it up nonetheless.

    Along with all of these mentioned, I do have strawberry syrup mix, and I always have fresh fruit on hand (usually limes, lemons, oranges)...although I try and be as exotic as I can and sometimes get pineapples, mangos, kiwis, or melons...

    Robert, what is a good scotch to start off with. I am absolutely clueless when it comes to whiskies and would say the best I've had was Crown Royal...followed by Gentleman Jack and Jack Daniels...but I couldnt be a true texas without putting some decent bourbon in my bar.

    I've also heard Kettle One is the way to go with Vodka, I have tried many different ones since the misses does like vodka (not while pregnant)...Ciroc, Smirnoff, Belvedere, Grey Goose, Rain, Iceberg...I prefered Skyy and Ciroc more than any of the rest. But I've heard Kettle One is the one to get.
    Tequila Don Valente....ask for it.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: What are the key elements to a home bar?

    Ketel One  -  $21.99  @  http://www.wineandliquordepot.com/vodka.htm

    Scotch Whiskey - if you want something basic, get J&B, if you want something premium, try MacAllan or Glenlivet. Be prepared to pay for the good stuff though. Good scotch is expensive. It comes in all different ages even among the same brand. The older you go, the more you pay.

    Irish Whiskey - Jameson, Bushmills, and Tullamore Dew are all good choices.

    Canadian Whiskey - we all know Crown Royal, and a cheaper option is Canadian Club. I would use it only as a mixer though. Lots of people drink "Crown & Coke" and canadian club & coke is pretty much the same stuff at about half the price. Plus you can get Canadian Club 10-year reserve for way cheaper than just regular Crown.

    Bourbon, American Whiskey - Maker's Mark, Jack Daniels, Jim Beam, and Southern Comfort are all popularly requested by bar regulars.

    Tonic water and Club Soda are NOT the same thing. Tonic water contains quinine as a bittering agent and is the "tonic" where the beverage gets its name. It is a relic anti-malarial drug from the old days of major malaria epedemics. Just a little interesting tidbit of info, tonic water will glow under blacklight due to the quinine content in it.

    *Note - you cannot cure or prevent malaria with gin & tonics or vodka & tonics. You would have to drink several gallons of tonic water a day for weeks on end to achieve any medicinally useful dose. lol. 

  8. #8
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    wichie13 is offline Agave Aficionados
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    Default Re: What are the key elements to a home bar?

    An Irish whiskey I would recommend is called Redbreat, its not too expensive and its pure pot still. They have a 12 and 15 year. I have only tasted the 12 year and it is a nice treat.

    Canadian Rye whiskey if you can get it down there is Alberta springs. Its even cheap up here and I like it better then crown and CC.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: What are the key elements to a home bar?

    Hey Guy,
    It sounds like your off to a good start. I have been entertaining for years down here in Florida at my home Tiki/Tequila Bar for large parties from 10 to 70 guests and can tell you from experience that one of the most important aspects to making a drink that people will always remember is using "fresh squeezed" juices for your mixing. I buy small electric citrus juicers at local thrift stores for $3 to $5 (at that price no big deal if they burn out!) and fresh squeeze limes, lemons, oranges, etc. Your Margaritas, Sunrisers, Screwdrivers, Madras's, Mojitos etc. will be totally off the charts! Try making a Pina Colada with fresh pineapple chunks instead of canned. Better than anything in the islands! How about a fresh mango or strawberry Daiquiri or Margarita? As far as sodas go I usually buy the smaller 12 oz. bottles of tonic, 7 up, ginger ale, club etc. as opposed to the liter sizes. This way you will have less waste in case you don't get as much a call on them during your party. I will however purchase liter botttles of Coke.
    I remember in the beginning I was going crazy trying to stock my bar with all kinds of crazy variety but the majority of people go for the traditional drinks. Stoli vodka is my "well" vodka and at $27-$30 for a 1.75 lt. btl. you can't go wrong. Grey Goose is way overrated for the price (in my opinion only). I have tried many different rums and I stock many varieties but Bacardi white still makes a super smooth mixer and a great Mojito. Captain Morgan works better with darker mixers, coke etc and is priced right. For the other choices Crown Royal is a nice Canadian whiskey to display for sipping as well as mixing. Crown also goes on sale quite a bit so look for it. Scotch can get expensive, particularly the single malt varieties but unless you have a real connoisseur you don't get much action on that. I do always have a few bottles on hand for those special times. It's always nice to have a bottle of Jack Daniel's and Southern Comfort because they are versatile when it comes to mixing. Down here in the South it's almost a must! And finally I have "Drink Special of the Day" blackboard that I offer a special drink. It could be a drink that you feel you have mastered and tastes great. For me it usually has something that includes 100% Blue Agave Tequila!
    Upon reading the other posts it sounds like everyone has given you some good advice. I hope I helped you out. Good Luck and Happy Partying!
    Sip & Savor... please don't shoot!

    Salud, Jim

  10. #10
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    Default Re: What are the key elements to a home bar?

    Wow! Well it looks like I better get started....haha.

    Tonic Water glows under black light? Is that why in the movies in clubs you can see that people are drinking "neon" drinks? I always thought that was neat but never knew why....

    I will probably be purchasing Stolis Vodka, J&B Scotch, and possibly a bottle of Gin. I figured if not many people drink it, when I start running low on something else...I could bring out the gin for juice cocktails and/or gin and tonics...that way people will lay off my other liquor ....I also dont think I'll spend much money on flavored cordials...you guys are right on the fresh fruit. I would much rather use that over a cordial if possible. Its more time consuming, but I'm not pouring up a bars worth of people, just in-laws and friends coming by through the season.

    I never thought about a fresh squeezed screw-driver or sunrise...YUM!

    One thing not mentioned to me was a cinnamon schnapps or peppermint schnapps. And I'm quite surprised. I bet if I could throw in the mix a bottle of Goldschlager and/or some Baileys or Kahlua...I could make some great holiday treats with coffee and cider. Maybe peppermint as well.

    I wish tequila agreed with hot drinks such as Cider or Coffee...but I just dont think they meant for tequila to be drank for the holidays.

    Well I shot my budget by about 50.00 more than I wanted to spend but Robert made a good point, add accordingly and I can stock up slowly.

    Thanks for the input guys.
    Tequila Don Valente....ask for it.

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