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Create a Professional Bar Experience at Home

Stocking the Bar

From martinis to Manhattans, cocktails are enjoying a surge in popularity. Whether you are hosting a formal cocktail party or a casual gathering of close friends, a well-stocked home bar will help you recreate that professional bar experience in your home.

Although you can make a home bar operational with just a single bottle of liquor, you need at least a basic assortment of wines, beers, spirits and liqueurs to offer your guests a satisfying range of options. As your tastes and entertaining plans expand, you can gradually add to your collection.

Liquor alone does not make a bar. Mixers and modifiers are the ingredients that make each drink unique. This is no place to scrimp; you may be surprised at how many of these ingredients you already have or can find other uses for.

Garnishes or accents often make the drink, be it an olive in a martini or the salt on a margarita glass or a fresh orange slice in an Old Fashioned. Sometimes they are added for flavor and other times, simply for visual appeal. They also offer a chance for you to show off your creative style.

Having the right tools on hand will ease preparation and ensure professional results. Serving each drink in the correct glassware will enhance the presentation.

So you will be prepared to offer guests a variety of cocktails and mixed drinks, we have outlined the essentials you will need, including liquors, mixers, garnishes, tools and glassware to help you prioritize your purchases. We have also added some "extras" if you want to take your home bar to the next level.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Guides, The Bar Guide, by Ray Foley (Time-Life Books, 1999).