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Entertainment, Food & Beverage

Setting up a home bar – stocking up

There’s no need to be envious of the bar’s impressive range of alcohol anymore. You can have the same line-up at home – just follow these steps.
CATS Classified In The Straits Times - May 22, 2009
By: Wong Wei Chen
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Setting up a home bar – stocking up

Ever wonder about the multitude of bottles sitting snugly on shelves behind the bar? And you must be pretty impressed to see the bartender casually pull a bottle out from among all those neat rows, pour a shot into your cocktail, then dump it back on the shelf with the same nonchalance.

How does he make sense of that bewildering array, and how does he remember what and how much of which to put into your glass, you ask? Well, the answer to your question comes under the scope of bartending skills and knowledge, and that’s a long, long yarn which we won’t go into now. But setting up own bar at home and doing some basic bartending is possible for amateurs like you and me. We just need to take things one step at a time.

To start out on the path of amateur bartending, you first need to set up the bar. So let’s start with the stocking of spirits. 

Essential liquors

The types of liquors you want to stock in your home bar mainly depend on what cocktails you plan to concoct. That said, it’ll be good to start with a basic range for the most common cocktails. Once you’ve built a solid foundation, and if your budget allows, you can move on to the more unusual varieties. Here’s a list of what we call “base spirits” that you might want on your shelves:

  • Bourbon
  • Gin
  • Brandy
  • Vodka
  • Whisky
  • Tequila
  • Rum


Essential liqueurs

Just in case you think “liqueur” and “liquor” are merely variants of the same word, I’ll have to tell you they are not: they refer to two distinct classes of spirits. Liquor refers to distilled alcoholic beverages such as whiskey, gin, rum or vodka, while liqueur refers to any flavoured, usually sweetened, alcoholic drink. The latter are usually not used on their own, but in addition to the base spirits as flavouring agents. Here are some liqueurs you might want to stock your bar with:

  • Irish Cream
  • Sweet vermouth
  • Cream de Cacao
  • Coffee liqueur
  • Dry vermouth
  • Orange liqueur

Essential mixers

Mixers are non-alcoholic liquids that add flavour and volume to cocktails:

  • Orange juice
  • Cola
  • Lime juice
  • Tonic
  • Pineapple juice
  • Ginger ale
  • Grapefruit juice
  • Milk
  • Cranberry juice
  • Tabasco sauce
  • Tomato juice
  • Coffee
  • Syrup
  • Water

Essential garnishes

Some garnishes you’ll want to have:

  • Oranges
  • Whipped cream
  • Lemons
  • Salt
  • Limes
  • Sugar
  • Olives
  • Nutmeg

Once you’re done with the essentials listed above, you’ll have set up a rather decent bar. So give yourself a pat on the back and make yourself a drink.


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