Whiskey 101: How to Stock Your Home Bar for a Party

Whiskey 101: How to Stock Your Home Bar for a Party

Most of us don’t start off with a home bar that can rival your neighborhood favorite. In fact, it is usually a bottle here, and another one before you realize that you do have the ability to make your signature whiskey cocktail in the comfort of your own home. However, if you are planning a party and want a home bar that is set up to please any type of guest, there are a few items that will be essential to have.

The Liquor Cabinet

The brands will be chosen by your personal preferences, but in order to be ready for any type of drink you will want at least one each of:

  • Blended Whiskey
  • Rye Whisky
  • Bourbon
  • Scotch
  • Vodka
  • Gin
  • Rum
  • Tequila

In addition to the main ingredients, it is also good to have certain liqueurs on hand for mixed drinks:

  • Dry Vermouth
  • Sweet Vermouth
  • Cointreau or Triple Sec
  • Campari or Chartreuse
  • Kahlua or Crème de Cacao

A small dash of bitters brings out a drink’s flavor, adding depth to the cocktail. Impress your guests by having an array of orange, aromatic and artisan bitters. These will make it simple to complete any cocktail request thrown your way.

Hot sauce and Worcestershire sauce are also common ingredients in mixed drinks, and good to have in your home bar. Other spicy flavors can be added using horseradish, tomato juice or even olive brine. Don’t forget to also invest in sweet sauces, like a pre-made sour mix and grenadine.

Juices for Variety

Fruit juice is the base for a number of mixed drinks, and is also used as a single accompaniment for whiskey and other spirits. To nail them all you will need to have:

  • Lime Juice
  • Lemon Juice
  • Orange Juice
  • Pineapple Juice and
  • Cranberry Juice

Don’t forget about an array of carbonated drinks too. Cola, seltzer, club soda and ginger ale are most commonly used for cocktail parties. If you plan on getting really serious with your bartending skills, add tonic, ginger beer and lemon-lime soda to the list.

Drink Garnishes

To make drinks at home like a pro, you will have to have a wide assortment of garnishes. Most of these can be cut ahead of time and stored in a covered container:

  • Lemons
  • Limes
  • Oranges
  • Citrus Peels
  • Maraschino Cherries
  • Olives
  • Cocktail Onions
  • Coarse Salt
  • Sugar Cubes

The Right Tools for a Home Bar

You may have all the ingredients on hand, but they won’t do you any good if you don’t have the tools to get them mixed together properly. Any home bar worth its whiskey will contain a:

  • Jigger Measure
  • Cocktail Shaker
  • Cocktail Strainer
  • Cocktail Stirrer
  • Bottle Opener
  • Wine Opener
  • Muddler
  • Knife
  • Cutting Board
  • Blender and
  • Fruit Juicer


Having basic glassware in your bar should be able to cover all of your cocktail requests. Rock glasses are a must, as are high balls for drinks like Jack and Coke. Stock up on shot glasses if you are expecting a rowdy crowd, and wine glasses for your more refined friends.

With all of these essentials stocked in your home bar, any occasion can be turned into a cocktail party. Familiarize yourself with the recipes for standards like a Whiskey Manhattan, and learn a few new tricks, and your little soiree will be a raving success.
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