Where to start, I always loved the art of the ingredient. How so many fluids, solid and ethereal moving parts can come together to make something that’s incredible. Something that makes you pause and stare or cuss playfully, a creation that’s thought-provoking and can start a conversation. To human is to socialize and let’s be honest booze enhances most social activities. But we’ve all been there, after a fantastic night and even more fantastic drinks you get a bill that seems more apropos for a fancy steak dinner than a night of drinking. Or you’re just intimidated by your lack of knowledge of what these “fancy ass bars” are whipping up into your drink. Well, we hope to ease your anxieties a bit with our collective knowledge of building a dope home bar to help offset your spending, a little wallet rehab if you will.
Most adults who drink already have a few bottles squirreled away in their homes. Vodka under the bed or Whiskey in the kitchen cabinets, I always thought it should be a little more dignified than that. We are going to give you a quick course on what it takes to not only build a solid home bar but the different levels. In the process, hoping the info provided will allow you to pick out which level makes you most comfortable.
Anything can be a bar, you don’t need to spend a ton of cash on something to hold your bottles. It entirely depends on your levels, are you a social drinker? Dedicate a shelf, a little more than that? Get creative! A solid chest high, shoulder width piece of furniture can hold your bottles, wood is my preference, but any material will do. But if booze is another language you speak, invest in a nice solid piece of furniture to hold your bottles (pro-tip: get something that stands out but folds into your home decor), I had an antique cypress bar cabinet shipped up from New Orleans, but that’s because I’m a lunatic, be a little saner in your approach.
The Bottles, remember you’re ultimately building a collection to your taste, but if you’re an entertainer, diversify your stock to include what others may drink. (I am not a big Vodka guy, but I keep it on hand for Martinis and Gimlets). Comfort in price is key here, all that cheap-ass booze people love to make fun of are workhorses for cocktails. I'd never use a premium Bourbon for a whiskey sour, but a well-rounded and delicious bottle of Heaven Hill works great in a Whiskey Sour or a mid-week Manhattan. The more pretentious the bottle, the more the spirit should be imbibed in its simplicity.
For my sanity I will not be speaking to the “I just want to get fucked up!” crowd, you’re doing fine getting drunk on your own, you’re not here for flavor. And that Sunny D mixer will give you fits the drinking gods themselves wouldn't envy, friend. So go ahead and store your bottles above the fridge and decorate your crib with the empties.
Just starting out can be daunting, but we are all students of something until we’re not. Start out by swinging for the moderately priced bottles, no one’s in the booze business to make nasty booze. Just because that rum is $15 bucks doesn't mean it’s not just as good as the $60 bottle. So many things factor into the price point, but often I find the sacrificing of flavor to not be one.
Liqueurs and Bitters are a must, they are the cornerstones to any great cocktail, but if you find yourself standing in front of the cordials section don’t shrink because you are unfamiliar with the ingredients. Start with the classics, Angostura, and Peychaud’s bitters to begin, a bottle of Campari and Luxardo should always be a part of your early repertoire. After you get comfortable with the new strange and bold flavors, experiment by grabbing a bottle that catches your eye and forcing yourself to learn a new recipe that contains it.
The last beginners tips ill give you are these, use fresh filtered ice and keep it in a plastic container in your freezer. If you have fish in your freezer, and you don’t take these precautions, then get ready to enjoy that salmon flavored old-fashioned. Keep your glassware simple to start, just make sure it's clean! And chilled, while your busy whipping up your drink, pop the glass in the freezer. You can acquire fancier glasses for different drinks as your comfort level builds, but if you fancy a mason jar so be it, remember this is your bar.
We aren’t pros, we are just guys who are moved by the spirit of the drink. Thirsty travelers hoping to impart a Little of the wisdom we’ve picked up along our journey and passing it on to you, the novice drinker. So go forth and build your bar, allowing it to become whatever your imagination and budget allows, Cheers.