Going out for drinks can be a lot of fun but it can get downright expensive! Once you’ve paid your tab and tipped the bartender, that night on the town can break the bank pretty quickly. With just a few essentials, you could have a well-stocked home bar that would make any bartender envious. Host parties in the comfort of your own home and ditch the pricey evenings out!
If you’re just starting out, stick with a few basic liquors: vodka, gin, tequila, bourbon, and whiskey (bonus points if you go local and keep a handle of Chattanooga Whiskey on hand). Once you’ve got your basics you can step it up a notch; invest in a light rum, a blended scotch, and both a dry and a sweet vermouth.
Liquor is a good place to start, but some people prefer wine. Cover your bases get both a bottle of white and a bottle of red. DeBarge Winery in Chattanooga has a great selection of reds, whites, chardonnays (the Chardanooga not only has a fun name but is tasty as well), and more. You also want to make sure you have a little something for your beer-lovin’ buddies. Everyone has different tastes, so it’s always safe to keep some light and some dark beer on hand. If you’re feeling “crafty”, pick up a growler at Heaven & Ale.
Very few people want a drink that is straight liquor, so be sure that you’ve got a good variety of mixers. Some things to keep in stock are soda, ginger ale, tonic water, club soda, lemonade, cranberry juice, and orange juice (or fresh oranges; not only can you use the juice as a mixer, but you can also cut a wedge out and use it in a Blue Moon beer). Mix up a screwdriver, a vodka cranberry, or a summer shandy.
A bartender would never serve a martini without an olive, a margarita without kosher salt, or a Bloody Mary without a celery stick. Make sure that you have plenty of pitted green olives, fresh limes and kosher salt, celery sticks, lemons, and maraschino cherries. All of these items are typical garnishes that you will find in a variety of cocktails that will give it that perfect, finishing touch.
Red solo cups are fine for college kids and beer pong, but if you want a respectable home bar you’ve got to have the right glassware. Keep your bar stocked with plenty of wine glasses, martini glasses, and highball glasses. Once you’ve got enough basic glassware, start collecting glasses of all kinds, like these cool IPA glasses to give you plenty of “bar cred”. The next time you’re on vacation, pop into a tourist shop and pick up a few shot glasses to give your bar a personal touch!
Now that you’ve got the ingredients, garnishes, and glassware, you’ll need to make sure that you’ve got all the right tools to craft that perfect cocktail. The most essential tools to have are a corkscrew, a cutting board, a bottle opener, a standard shaker, and a jigger. Once you’ve gotten your basics down and are read to stock your bar further, you can keep a paring knife, a juice squeezer, a peeler, a long cocktail spoon, cocktail napkins, and cocktail toothpicks on hand.
Follow these tips and in no time flat, you will have an awesome home bar that’s ready for guests! You’ll have exactly what you need for the perfect fun night in. Grab a board game, a karaoke machine, or challenge your friends to a poker game. Just remember: Always enjoy your bar responsibly and be sure that your guests do the same. Keep a fishbowl and ask your friends to drop their keys in it at the beginning of the evening, and always keep some cash handy in case someone needs a cab. Cheers!