Congratulations, you’re one of the few gentleman who realized how cool it is to have a bar in your house and you made it happen. The fact that you have a bar in your house is going to lead to plenty of bad decisions so let’s not make any while stocking it. Stocking a bar is an art and making the wrong decisions can lead to some awkward situations. You don’t ever want to run out of bourbon and be left with a bottle of dusty Aquavit and a half liter of 99 bananas. Use this guide to stock your bar and you’ll be ready to host a party at a moment’s notice.
Vodka: Vodka is a grain alcohol so all you’re looking for is quality product since there aren’t really any flavor qualities. Vodka generally comes in two categories, cheap and bad (which leaves you with a wicked hangover) or expensive and good. Stick with Grey Goose or Ciroc. Grey Goose is the perfect martini vodka and Ciroc, which is actually made from grapes, is super smooth.
Whiskey: Whiskey gets broken down into three categories, rye, bourbon and scotch. For Rye, you want to go with Templeton. It’s only $40 a bottle, it’s delicious, and the recipe is based on a prohibition era rye, you can’t go wrong. For bourbon, you can’t go wrong with old trusty, Jack Daniels. As far as Scotch goes, Johnnie Walker Black is always a solid choice.
Rum: With rum, you need light and dark. Bacardi is the go-to rum for light. For your dark rum there are actually a lot of great choices out there. Sailor Jerry is a nice spiced rum, as is Kraken which has a mix of 11 spices including cinnamon and ginger.
Gin: When you’re dealing with gin you can’t go wrong with Tanqueray, it’s a classic. If you’re really into gin, and you want different botanicals and the like, you might want to get a bottle of Leopold’s or Schramm gin from Canada.
Tequila: I know there are a few people who enjoy mixed tequila drinks but let’s be honest and not waste money on top of it, most are in it for the shots when it comes to tequila. Go for the Patron.
Cognac: Keep a bottle of Hennessy around just in case. It’ll last a good long while.
Liqueurs: A person could have 100 liqueurs in their bar if they really wanted to be that guy, but about 96 of those bottles would go to waste. You need Sambuca because who doesn’t love a cup of Joe with a shot of this good stuff? You need Kahlua because for some reason it often comes in handy. You need Galliano because a Galliano and Coke is absolutely divine. You also need Irish cream and the brand you should always purchase is Coole Swan. Take the best Irish cream you’ve ever tasted, multiply it by about 100, and have it blessed and that’s what Coole Swan tastes like. It’s a must have.
Mixers & More: Triple sec, soda, bitters and juice. These four items will make everybody happy.
You’ll also want to have Maraschino cherries, lemons, limes, orange slices, olives, pearl onions, and salt on hand.
Glasses & Equipment: As far as glasses go, pint glasses, shot glasses, old fashioned glasses, and highball glasses will get you started. You’ll also need a mixer, strainer, and muddler.
High-End (Optional): If you’re having a party nobody’s going to expect it but it wouldn’t hurt to have a bottle of Johnnie Blue or Bulleit Bourbon tucked away, even if it is only for personal use.