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How to Stock Your Home Bar on a Budget

How to Stock Your Home Bar on a Budget

With most bars being closed over the past year, creating a home bar has been a fun way to celebrate and relax at home. While setting up a home bar can be expensive, knowing the basics can help you set a budget and create the perfect watering hole at home.

3 Considerations Before You Begin

Before you create your home bar, here are some things to take into consideration:

  • Cost: What is your budget for building a home bar? Knowing how much you want to spend on your home bar upfront can help you avoid accumulating costs on high-end liquor and equipment later on.
  • Space: Before stocking up on a bunch of bottles and equipment, consider: how much space do you really have for your home bar? If it’s limited, you might want to stick with the essentials, or whatever is essential to make your favorite cocktails.
  • Your preferences: The recommendations below are for a general home bar on a budget, but designing your home bar is totally up to you. If you love gin and don’t care for whiskey, expand your gin collection and limit your brown liquor. Don’t stock up on something you’re not going to use. Instead, focus on what you and your guests will love.

Essential Components of a Home Bar

Liquors

The essential liquors to include in your home bar setup include:

  1. Vodka
    Vodka is used in more cocktails than other distilled spirits thanks to its clean, transparent flavor and appearance. You can experiment with flavored vodkas, such as a citrus vodka, down the line.
  2. Gin
    Perfect for martinis and gin and tonics, a good bottle of London-crafted dry gin is versatile and well-suited for many cocktails.
  3. Tequila
    Having a silver tequila is perfect for margaritas and other tequila cocktails. Adding a reposado (darker-colored, aged) tequila can be a great addition to your home bar if you favor tequila drinks.
  4. Rum
    Since rum mixes well in many different cocktails, having one bottle of white rum — for mojitos and daiquiris — and one dark or spiced rum — for tropical and tiki-themed beverages — comes in handy.
  5. Whiskey
    Bourbon is the obvious choice for your home bar’s whiskey due to its versatility. However, you might want a rye whiskey for a deeper, spicier flavor.

Once you’ve acquired these basics, some additional liquors to consider include:

  • Brandy
  • Scotch
  • Irish whiskey
  • Mezcal
  • Rye

 

Liqueurs

Liqueurs add flavor, depth and color to cocktails, bringing your home bar to the next level. The basic liqueurs to consider having include:

  1. Amaretto
    This sweet liqueur has an almond flavor and is often paired with vodka, whiskey or other liqueurs.
  2. Vermouth
    Dry and sweet vermouth both should be a part of your home bar if you enjoy martinis.
  3. Orange Liqueur
    There are many varieties of orange liqueurs to choose from, including Grand Marnier, triple sec, Cointreau, and curaçao.
  4. Irish Cream Liqueur
    If you like creamier, sweeter cocktails, an Irish cream liqueur like Baileys can be a go-to.

There are so many other fun and exciting liqueurs to consider! Some options include Campari, Kahlua, Chamboard, St. Germain, Aperol, Crème de Violette, Crème de Cassis, and Green Chartreuse.

 

Bitters

Having a bottle of bitters, either Angostura or Peychaud’s, provides a welcome counterpoint to many cocktails, and most last at least a year.

 

Wines

As part of your home bar set up, you should at least have a bottle of red and a bottle of white. You can add in rosé as well depending on your preferences.

 

Beers

Keeping a case of mixed beer on hand not only makes sure you cover all your bases — it also allows you to experiment with beer cocktails!

 

Mixers

There are several different types of mixers you can have on-hand to make cocktails at home in seconds.

 

Pre-made Mixers

If you love a certain cocktail and don’t want to mess with mixers, purchasing high-quality cocktail mixes can save a lot of time — and money. Common cocktail mixers include:

 

When selecting mixers, look for craft cocktail mixers with high-quality ingredients and real fruit flavor. That way, you won’t sacrifice taste for convenience.

 

Juices

Typical juices to have on hand include:

  • Cranberry juice
  • Orange juice
  • Tomato juice
  • Pineapple juice
  • Lemon juice
  • Lime juice

 

You can buy juice or juice a fresh lemon or lime depending on how much time you have and what the recipe calls for.

 

Syrups

Syrups are essential for adding flavor and sweetness to cocktails. Common syrups that you’ll use include:

  1. Simple Syrup
    A sweetener for many cocktails, our Pure Cane Syrup is perfect to have on hand for whenever a recipe calls for simple syrup.
  2. Grenadine
    A key ingredient in many cocktails, our Grenadine Syrup makes it easy to add the perfect color and flavor to your cocktails.
  3. Agave Syrup
    Our Agave Organic Nectar is perfect for adding sweetness to margaritas, other cocktails, and more.
  4. Sour Mix
    This essential mixer is made from lemon and/or lime juice and simple syrup, and is used in a variety of cocktails.

Monin has a variety of flavored syrups that are perfect for mixing in cocktails and creating classic and unique flavors. Some of our favorites to use in cocktails include:

  1. Exotic Citrus Syrup
    The flavor combination of Meyer lemon and Kaffir lime is perfect for citrus mojitos and sodas.
  2. Tiki Blend Syrup
    An exotic blend of passion fruit, pomegranate, and ginger, this syrup creates amazing Mai Tais, Hurricanes, Zombies and Tropical Punches.
  3. Habanero Lime Syrup
    This sweet and spicy syrup packs a punch when added to beers, mojitos, and other beverages.
  4. Chipotle Pineapple Syrup
    This smoky, tropical syrup turns up the heat on margaritas, mojitos and other tropical cocktails.
  5. Elderflower Syrup
    This sweet, floral flavor brilliantly complements wine and gin cocktails.
  6. Blue Curacao Syrup
    This syrup is inspired by the liqueur, and is perfect for tropical cocktails.

 

Sodas

Having club soda and tonic water is a necessity for cocktails, but keep your basic other soda flavors — cola, lemon-lime, ginger ale — on hand to act as mixers and something to serve to your guests who aren’t imbibing.

 

Garnishes

Garnishes elevate your home cocktail presentation and add flavor. Essential garnishes include:

  • Oranges
  • Limes
  • Grapefruit
  • Maraschino cherries or Luxardo cherries

Other common garnishes include:

  • Mint
  • Cocktail olives
  • Cocktail onions
  • Tabasco sauce

 

How creative you want to get with your garnishes depends on what cocktails you’re making. A spring of fresh lavender, a cinnamon stick, or a slice of grilled pineapple, can really convey the vibe of the beverage you're creating.

 

Ice

Don’t forget about the ice! Whether store-bought or home-dispensed, making sure you have fresh ice is essential for making cocktails.

 

Glassware and Equipment

For proper mixing, shaking, straining, stirring and muddling, getting the right glasses, tools and equipment are necessary.

 

Glasses

Show your Instagrammable cocktails off with the right glass! Basic glasses to start off with include:

  1. Champagne flute
    If you enjoy serving champagne cocktails or other sparkling wine-based beverages, champagne flutes are tall, slender glasses that help preserve carbonation and provide an elegant, celebratory feel.
  2. Collins glass
    Similar to a highball glass, a Collins glass is a tall and skinny glass used for mixed drinks.
  3. Beer glass
    A standard pint glass is the basic requirement here, but there are other beer glasses you can add to your home bar, including Pilsner and Stein glasses.
  4. Martini glass
    These fun glasses are perfect for martinis, Manhattans and other cocktails.
  5. Red and white wine glasses
    Having both red and white wine glasses shows that you know your wines and allows you to best present the wines you purchase to your guests. Red wine glasses have a wider bowl while white wine glasses are more narrow.
  6. Rocks glass
    An essential component of any home bar, rocks glasses are available in single or double sizes.

 

Tools

Having the right tools makes crafting cocktails from scratch a lot easier. You should have:

  1. A bottle opener
    Bottle openers allow you to open beers and mixers quickly and easily.
  2. A cocktail shaker
    There are a lot of different cocktail shakers to choose from — just make sure you choose one that is durable and made from something like stainless steel.
  3. A cutting board
    Having a cutting board to prepare garnishes and ingredients on can be helpful.
  4. A grater
    For cocktails with zest from fresh citrus fruits, a grater, peeler or zester comes in handy.
  5. A muddler
    For muddling mint and other herbs and zests together.
  6. An ice maker
    Whether you use a basic ice tray or fancy ice mounds, having an ice maker is essential.
  7. A jigger
    While you can measure with a shot glass, a jigger provides a regular-sized shot measured on one side with a smaller shot on the other, allowing you to better control the amount of liquor you’re putting in your cocktails.
  8. A strainer
    Strain out any zest or fruit remnants, or ice if you’re shaking or stirring a cocktail to serve neat.
  9. Mixing glasses
    Durable mixing glasses allow you to stir and combine ingredients for your cocktails before pouring into your serving glass.
  10. A stirrer
    Instead of using a spoon, a stirrer allows you to mix drinks without worrying about splashes or spills.

 

Bar cart

Your bar cart should depend on the space you have available as well as your style. It could be a traditional bar cart, but it could also be a bookshelf, dresser, or even large vintage suitcase!

 

Go-To Cocktail Recipes

Once you set up your home bar, you should master these go-to recipes so you can have the basics covered.

  1. Gin and Tonic
    A classic gin & tonic is typically anywhere from 1:1 to 1:3 parts gin and tonic poured over ice. It’s typically garnished with a lime wedge. Try making our Exotic Gin & Tonic for an easy twist on the basic recipe.
  2. Vodka Soda
    This simple recipe is typically one part vodka and 2-4 parts club soda, depending on how strong you like it.
  3. Negroni
    A classy cocktail composed of gin, sweet vermouth, and Compari, a Negroni is easy to make and super refreshing. Try our sophisticated take — the Blood Orange Negroni.
  4. Martini
    Martinis are typically made from either gin or vodka, shaken or stirred, with dry vermouth. However, the variations are endless. Check out our martini recipes for inspiration.
  5. Whiskey Sour
    This classic cocktail is whiskey, lemon juice and simple syrup. Get the recipe here.
  6. Old Fashioned
    A traditional old fashioned contains bourbon, simple syrup and bitters, often garnished with a cherry and orange peel. Get the recipe here.
  7. Mojito
    A refreshing rum cocktail, a typical mojito features flavors of lime and mint. Get the recipe here.

You can view other cocktail recipes on our website.

 

Monin at Home: Share Your Home Bar Set-Up

We’re proud to provide high-quality syrups and mixers so that you can easily make craft cocktails right at home. Share the cocktails you make — and pics of your home bar set up — with #MoninAtHome.