After I got married I fulfilled one of my oldest fantasies. No, not whatever sick little thing that sentence brought to mind; I started a home bar! But I didn't just start a home bar. In one night I purchased 20 bottles of liquor that I had either seen/tried/heard of, all which I assumed would make for good cocktails. No such luck. Not only was I completely out of my element, but some of those bottles were so bad that they are still in my possession TO THIS DAY (Alcohol never goes bad, right?). But if you don't know what you're doing then where do you begin?
What do you really need?
Good fucking question. One that I honestly can't answer for you because it's different for everybody. Do you pretend to like Martinis? Awesome. Invest in a nice bottle of gin, some dry vermouth, a martini glass, and even a shaker if you so desire. BAM! You've taken the first step toward building your home bar. Assuming you're not a complete lush, that one bottle of gin and vermouth should last you at least a few weeks. Now go ahead and play around with the ratios and try a twist of lemon or a bit of olive juice for a dirty martini. Do whatever you like, make the drink yours, or come out of the closet and admit that what you really wanted all along was an Appletini. Most importantly, drink what you dig. (Personally, I can't drink Appletinis anymore because my penis threatened to leave me.)
One Drink at a Time
Once you no longer have to look up the recipe for the first cocktail you're ready to move onto the second and from there the sky is the limit. The big thing to remember is to just slow the fuck down. Building a home bar that you are actually able to tend is a MARATHON, not a race. Take my advice as someone who did it the ass-backwards way. It's much more fun and much less painful to go slowly. While it's fun to have 15 different bottles on hand, if you don't know how to use them then you're just a tool with too much booze. Instead, use the multiplication method of booze buying: For your second cocktail, choose something that can be mixed with the ingredients from the first. Now you're developing a taste for several cocktails at once, expanding your recipe repertoire, and when folks drop buy you can confidently offer them a well made drink from a place of experience instead of having them blankly stare at your wall o' booze.
BE THE BARTENDER
The whole point of this home bar thing is to share it. To do that you need to not only make cocktails well, but you need to learn enough about them that you can pair your friends with drinks they will actually like. If you know your friends, this isn't as hard as it seems. I find the hardest part is that many people's drinking experience is limited to shots and beer. Getting people to understand there is more to a drink than getting drunk; that you can actually enjoy one or two really well made drinks on their own merit, is the real challenge. You rise to that challenge by knowing them enough to give them something they will appreciate and then making it really well and presenting it in such a way that it elevates the experience. I'm not saying you need to carve floating lotus flowers, but you can manage a fucking lemon twist and an appropriate glass.
Get Some Glass
If you want to really enjoy your home bar you need to get the right glassware. An Old Fashioned goes in a Rocks Glass, a Martini goes in a martini glass, ect. The best way to collect glasses is the same way you built your cocktail repertoire: one at a time. "Where the hell do you get single cocktail glasses!" Two Words: Thrift Stores. These are by far the best places I've found for glasses and their so cheap you really won't care if you break a few. Thrift and Antique Stores are also some of the only places you can find vintage cocktail glasses. The downside is that you are less likely to find a full set. The upside is Frank Sinatra was a serious alcoholic who got around which means a few of those rocks glasses will undoubtedly carry some of his DNA. And who doesn't want their own personal Sinatra clone?
Okay, so the cloning process isn't PERFECT...yet. via gutxihaitz
How did you go about stocking your home bar? Any advice for those just starting out? Why not leave us a comment, smart guy?