What You Need to Stock Your Home Bar

By Ray Foley

When setting up your home bar, always use popular name brands. These brands aren’t always the most expensive, but they tend to be the most recognizable and your guests will get a quality product.

The basic setup

A basic bar setup for your home and for spur-of-the-moment entertaining should consist of the following:

  • One 750 ml bottle of the aperitif of your choice (Campari, Dubonnet, Lillet, and so on)

  • One 750 ml bottle of sparkling wine or champagne

  • Four 750 ml bottles of white domestic wine

  • Two 750 ml bottles of red domestic wine

  • One 750 ml bottle of dry vermouth

  • One 750 ml bottle of sweet vermouth

  • One 750 ml bottle of flavored vodka (stick to orange, lemon, raspberry, or vanilla flavor)

  • One 750 ml bottle of vodka (domestic)

  • One 250 ml bottle of vodka (imported)

  • One 750 ml bottle of gin (domestic or imported)

  • One 750 ml bottle of rum

  • One 750 ml bottle of Scotch

  • One 750 ml bottle of single-malt Scotch

  • One 750 ml bottle of whiskey (domestic or imported)

  • One 750 ml bottle of bourbon

  • One 750 ml bottle of tequila

  • One 750 ml bottle of brandy or cognac

  • Twelve 12 oz. bottles of beer (domestic or imported)

  • Three 750 ml bottles of the cordials of your choice (such as Irish cream, coffee liqueur or Kahlúa, Grand Marnier, triple sec, Cointreau, Sambuca, white or green crème de menthe, Galliano, B&B, Frangelico, amaretto, peach schnapps, and so on)

The approximate cost to set up this bar is between $500 and $600 if you’re using domestic and local brands. If you use premium brands, add 20 to 30 percent.

Use mostly premium brands. You don’t want your guests thinking that you’d serve them anything but the best.

A more complete bar

If you plan to serve more than the basics at your bar, add the following items to the basic bar:

  • One 750 ml bottle of Russian or imported vodka

  • Two 750 ml bottles of flavored vodka (such as lemon, orange, vanilla, or raspberry)

  • One 750 ml bottle of imported gin

  • One 750 ml bottle of dark rum

  • One 750 ml bottle of coconut-flavored rum

  • One 750 ml or 1.5 liter bottle of 12 year old Scotch

  • One 750 ml or 1.5 liter bottle of single-malt Scotch

  • One 750 ml bottle of Irish whiskey

  • One 750 ml bottle of Canadian whisky

  • One 750 ml bottle of Tennessee whiskey

  • One 750 ml bottle of gold tequila

  • One 750 ml or 1.5 liter bottle of V.S. or V.S.O.P. cognac

  • One 750 ml bottle of port (imported)

  • One 750 ml bottle of cream sherry

  • One 750 ml bottle of Italian red wine

  • One 750 ml bottle of French Bordeaux

  • One 750 ml bottle of French Burgundy

  • One 750 ml bottle of California white wine

  • One 750 ml bottle of French champagne (nonvintage)

  • Two 750 ml bottles of cordials

  • Twelve 12 oz. bottles of imported beer

  • Six 12 oz. bottles of light beer

  • Six 12 oz. bottles of ale

The added cost of these items is about $500 to $600.

The ultimate bar

If money is no object and you want the most complete home bar, add the following items to the lists above:

  • Three 750 ml bottles of flavored vodka (such as lemon, orange, vanilla, or raspberry)

  • One 750 ml bottle of imported or super-premium domestic vodka

  • One 750 ml bottle of 15 year old single-malt Scotch

  • One 750 ml bottle of V.S.O.P. cognac

  • One 750 ml bottle of armagnac

  • One 750 ml or 1.5-liter bottle of imported brandy (from Germany, Spain, or Portugal)

  • One 750 ml bottle of dark rum

  • One 750 ml or 1.5-liter bottle of flavored rum

  • One 750 ml or 1.5-liter bottle of gold tequila

  • Two 750 ml bottles of cordials

  • Two 750 ml bottles of vintage imported champagne

  • Two 750 ml bottles of domestic champagne

  • Two 750 ml bottles of French Bordeaux

  • Two 750 ml bottles of French Burgundy

  • Two 750 ml bottles of robust Italian red wine (Barolo)

  • Two 750 ml bottles of California white wine

  • Two 750 ml bottles of California red wine

  • One 750 ml bottle of German white wine

  • Six 12-oz. bottles of assorted microbrews

  • Six cans (sizes vary depending on brand) of an energy drink (such as Red Bull or Rockstar)

The added cost of the ultimate bar is roughly $600 to $700.

Mixers and other supplies

You need one 2 liter bottle of the following mixers for every five guests:

  • Cola or diet cola

  • Cranberry juice

  • Energy drinks (Red Bull and Monster in original and sugar-free varieties)

  • Ginger ale

  • Grapefruit juice

  • Lemon juice or lemon mix

  • Lemon-Lime soda

  • Lime juice

  • Orange juice

  • Pineapple juice

  • Pomegranate juice

  • Seltzer water or club soda

  • Tomato juice

  • Tonic water

You also need the following fruits and garnishes:

  • Lemon twists

  • Lime and lemon wedges

  • Maraschino cherries

  • Olives

  • Orange slices

Finally, don’t forget these items:

  • Angostura bitters

  • Salt and pepper

  • Superfine sugar

  • Tabasco sauce

  • Worcestershire sauce