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Stocking Your Cocktail Bar

Stocking Your Cocktail Bar

Whether you’re planning to have one last big summer bash or you’re already thinking about tailgating parties for the fall, a perfectly stocked cocktail bar will come in handy for any such occasion.

Think about the types of drinks your friends and family typically enjoy the most, then start with the basics and build from there. Before a party, be sure you assess your situation to make sure you have enough bar supplies.

  • Liquors. Pick your favorite to start, and then add others over time, such as vodka, gin, whiskey, bourbon, rum and tequila.
  • Liqueurs. These are great for adding a secondary layer of flavor in many cocktails. Try vermouth (dry and sweet), orange-based liqueur, such as Cointreau or Triple Sec, herb-based spirits, such as Campari or Chartreuse and sweet liqueurs, such as creme de cacao or Kahlua.
  • Bitters. There is a huge variety of innovative flavors, such as aromatic bitters like classic Angostura or sweet, spicy Peychaud’s, orange bitters and artisan bitters. A dash of bitters will accent and add depth to any cocktail.
  • Spicy & Savory Flavors. You probably already have some of these on hand, and they typically keep for a long time. Get creative with hot sauce, green pepper sauce, Sriracha or other Asian chili sauces, olive brine, pickle juice, horseradish and tomato juice.
  • Sweet & Sour Flavors. Personalize your cocktails with infused simple syrups, or make your own sour mix. Also try granulated, brown or cane sugar, simple syrup or grenadine.
  • Fruit Juices. For the best flavor, use freshly squeezed citrus fruits, such as lemon, lime and orange juice, cranberry juice cocktail, pineapple juice, pomegranate juice or strong iced teas or tisanes.
  • Carbonation. Buy sodas packaged in small bottles so you use them up at each party and they don’t have time to go flat. Try seltzer, club soda, tonic, cola, lemon-lime soda, ginger ale and ginger beer.
  • Garnishes. Fun garnishes will make your drinks taste EVEN better! For convenience, precut slices or wedges of lemons and limes before the party, and be creative with other options like oranges, citrus twists, star fruit, pineapple, fresh berries, fresh herbs, cherries, olives, cocktail onions, celery, cucumber, jalapeno, coarse salt, sugar cubes, swizzle sticks and cocktail straws.
  • Beer and wine. You’ll definitely want plenty of beer for football games, but remember that some people would prefer to drink wine.
  • Tools of the Trade. Don’t forget to make sure you have the proper tools for mixing and preparing drinks. You’ll need a jigger measure, cocktail shaker, cocktail strainer, cocktail stirrer, muddler, bottle opener, knife, small cutting board, blender and hand-held fruit juicer.