My liquor collection has always been a mess. As a guest, you'd be hard-pressed to locate the gin if you wanted to make yourself a gin and tonic, and finding matching highball glasses was such a chore that I often served cocktails in juice glasses. More often than not, I just served wine and sparkling water when I had people over, which was a shame because I have a pretty good assortment of beverages at any given time.
One cold and gloomy winter Saturday night, I decided to straighten things out. A miracle: the reorganization made room for teapots and teacups (which I use a lot more than the shot and cordial glasses), water pitchers, and flavored syrup bottles. The space transformed into a fun beverage station for both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. Plus, I cleared space so that you can now pour, mix, and serve right on the sideboard.
Finally, guests and I can see what I have in a glance. And I’m looking forward to the next time people come over and I can say, just like my parents do, “Come on in and fix yourself a drink!”
HOME BAR ESSENTIALS
In setting up a home bar, consider your own personal beverage preferences first—there’s no point in investing in vermouth and bitters if you never make martinis or Manhattans. Here’s what I plan to keep my home bar stocked with—and why.
Mixers Club soda or seltzer, tonic water, ginger ale.
Flavored syrups A shot of just about any flavored syrup (I like vanilla, citrus, and berry syrup flavors) in 8 oz. of seltzer or sparkling water makes a festive virgin drink.
Lemons and limes I always have them around, but I’m now keeping the bowl right on the bar.
Vodka, gin, whiskey The easy cocktail liquors. I have rum and tequila too, but they’re used mostly for mojitos and margaritas, which I only offer at parties and special occasions when I can mix a big batch for everyone.
Campari and chartreuse for lightly alcoholic spritzers when mixed with seltzer.
Crème de cassis to make kirs (white wine and crème de cassis), an easy, elegant drink
Wines White and red, rosé in the summer.
Port and sherry Nice things to have on hand when someone doesn’t want a mixed drink but you don’t feel like opening a bottle of wine.
Cordials and after-dinner drinks I make my own limoncello and cherry bounce (sour cherries steeped in bourbon), but you could also have Grand Marnier, Chambord, Frangelico, Amaretto, Bailey’s, crème de menthe.... They are such fun to serve and also make great flavorings for desserts.
YOUR TURN What do you keep in your home bar?