You know what’s great? Going out for a tipple with friends. You know what’s potentially even greater? Having your friends over for a bevvy at your totally fancy at-home bar. (Shoes optional.) If you’ve always dreamed of being the kind of hostess who could whip up a dirty margarita for her guests at a moment’s notice (or a gin and tonic for yours truly at the end of a hard Wednesday), you’re gonna want your DIY drinks station to be well stocked with all the essentials. Building your home bar from scratch? Start with these top tips…
Think it through: What liquors do you frequently drink? What cocktails could you put on the menu? Try hitting up a recipe book to get a clear idea of what you might want to create (think easy, crowd-pleasing drinks over super-complicated cocktails unless ‘flustered barman’ is the vibe you’re going for). Doing this research first will ensure your expensive bottles of booze don’t just sit there collecting dust. Speaking of expensive bottles of booze…
Decide on your budget: Do the maths and figure out how much you can afford to spend on setting up your home bar. When it comes to alcohol, things can get pretty pricey, so figure out your budget upfront, then start looking at (and taste-testing) different bottles. You’ll start to get an idea of where to save your dosh and where to splurge a little more.
Start small: Your home bar is something that will grow over time. Don’t feel like you need to be as well-stocked as Dan Murphy’s. Keeping things simple at first will not only save you cash, it’ll keep your menu basic and allow your bar to grow with your cocktail knowledge. (So you don’t have to break into a sweat when someone asks you to fix them a Fuzzy Duck…)
Consider storage: Where are you doing to stow your new collection of booze? In a cupboard? Displayed on an open bar cart? It’s worth looking at the best storage methods for the alcohol you’re buying – most liquor keeps best in a cool place away from direct sunlight, but some bottles may need to be refrigerated after opening.
Get the right tools: A well-stocked home bar is partly about the booze and partly about the tools. Things you might want to consider investing in are… an ice bucket and scoop, a wine decanter, a corkscrew and bottle opener, a bottle stopper, ice-cube trays, a cocktail shaker and strainer, cocktail stirrers, coasters, napkins and straws.
Stock up on glassware: Different drinks call for different styles of glasses – but you don’t need to go overboard buying specialist riesling glasses right off the bat. A good start is a four or six-piece set of champagne flutes, basic wine glasses, tall glasses and short tumblers. As you start using your bar more, you’ll get an idea of what’s worth investing in!
Head to the bottle-o: Depending on what you (and your guests) like to drink – you’re going to want to stock up on a selection of beer, wine and spirits. But don’t forget the all-important additions of cordials, liqueurs, mixers and garnishes. Details like fresh lime, horseradish and cocktail salts will take your drinks to the next level.
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