Party Essentials Every Home Bar Needs
Tending bar from home just takes a little know-how, proper planning and a great recipe book.
For those looking to create a home bar, stocking a watering hole is best done in stages since it can be quite expensive to purchase all of the items at one time, according to artofmanliess.com, which recommends purchasing essential and personal favorites, and restocking or adding to the collection one party at a time.
After 20-plus years in hospitality and management of high volume cocktail and wine programs, Nathaniel Loggins — a Shreveport, spirits expert with Wines Unlimited — knows his way behind the bar.
Sharing a standard and universal bar setup, Loggins says every home bar should have at least one of the following: vodka, gin, tequila, white rum, triple sec, scotch and bourbon. These liquors will allow budding mixologists to produce popular cocktails when entertaining, Loggins said.
“You don’t have to worry about sinking too much money into the most expensive brands if just looking to cover bases,” Loggins explained. “There are high quality selections for each spirit class that can be found in local retail shops for under $15 each and most stores will employ staff that delight in helping customers find the best ‘bang for the buck’ brands.”
Many high quality labels don’t spend money on advertising and that allows them to keep their prices very competitive, he added.
A well-kept home bar should be able to cover all of the basics to create the majority of highballs and cocktails with ease. Loggins recommended including a few other spirits for those wanting to take your bar to the next level with both dry and sweet vermouth for martinis and Manhattans. Adding an amaretto, a coffee liqueur, and perhaps half and half as well will help to step up a home bar’s game, he says.
A special item to have bar ready is an ingredient for the ever popular Moscow mule — spicy ginger beer. Loggins points out it’s the most popular cocktail in the United States right now. Knowing who you’re entertaining also is helpful that way barkeeps have a small selection of beer, wine or non-alcoholic drinks available in addition to ingredients for mixed drinks.
As for garnishes, Loggins says to keep cucumber, mint, and a variety of pickled veggies, as well as olives stuffed with blue cheese.
Loggins knows what it takes to execute a drink order with precision and tidiness. Separating a slow, sloppy bartender from a quick and efficient one, Loggins said the trick is to lay out the space well and keep everything tidy. Organize for speedy service by having ice nearby, preferably waist level with liquors easily accessible so spirits flow with minimal crossover.
Loggins recommends keeping a towel nearby, and washing all equipment after every drink. “The cleaner and more efficient you work, the more free time you will have for conversing and entertaining.”
“I would also encourage those who are just getting in to bartending to always use speed pours and jiggers while measuring ingredients every time,” Loggins continued, “It may look cooler when the bartender free pours directly from the bottle, but you will end up with a better and more consistent drink if using jiggers, speed pours, and recipes.”
There’s a little more to having a home bar than acquiring bottles of booze. Finding the necessary items to stock a home bar, Cuban Liquor — a third generation family business since 1934 located in the heart of uptown Shreveport — offers a wide selection of bar items.
Ron Lepow, owner of Cuban Liquor, suggests the importance of proper drinking vessels with different glasses for “on the rocks,” highballs, red wine, white wine and champagne. He also says fluted champagne glasses hold bubbles better, however, they restrict the champagne aroma, so white wine glasses will work better for those who prefer to smell the bubbly.
Also available at Cuban Liquor are various cocktail shakers, mixing glasses, jiggers, citrus juicers, strainers, muddlers, barspoons, cocktail picks, stirrers, rimmers, ice buckets and tongs — all important bar items. Lepow’s biggest tip for tending bar at home is to have a great cocktail recipe handbook in order to whip up something special for guests.
Cuban has an extensive selection of alcoholic beverages for all budgets with some amazing talent ready to help. When at Cuban stocking up, go ahead and grab their most popular bar item, the cheeseboard.
Sip champagne, shake or stir the martinis, and muddle the mojitos while enjoying a well stocked home bar that’s ready to tackle any impromptu gathering.
CUBAN LIQUOR’S MUST HAVES FOR HOME BAR:
- Tito’s® Handmade Vodka
- Maker’s Mark® Kentucky Straight Bourbon
- Beefeater® London Dry Gin
- Crown Royal® Canadian Whisky
- A single malt scotch or three
- Jack Daniel’s® Tennessee Whiskey
- BACARDÍ Superior Rum
- Dark aged rum
- Spiced rum
- 100% agave tequilas
- Triple sec (or Grand Marnier® or Cointreau®)
- Baileys® Irish Cream
- Cocktail hour wines – such as Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir
- A few craft beers
Bar tending equipment:
- Ice bins and scoops
- Sink for washing and dumping
- Bar spoon
- Martini shaker and strainer
- Rubber mat to catch any drips
- Sprite®/Coke®/Diet Coke®
- Tonic water
- Soda water
- Bottled water
- Orange juice, cranberry juice, grapefruit juice
- Sweet and sour mix
- Simple syrup
- Bloody mary mix, margarita mix
- Olive juice/dirty mix
- Lemon slices, lemon twists
- Lime wedges
- Orange slices
- Maraschino cherries
- Olives (and olive picks)