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Setting up a home bar

I have seen some older threads on home bars, and I was wondering if I could start a new one. I recently refinished the basement in my home and it has a wet bar. Well I am not a seasoned drinker (Whisky sours are about my knowledge level...), but the bar needs stocked. I started buying stuff with absolutely no idea what I was doing. I was wondering if you experts could take a look and let me know what I am missing. I am not looking to make everything in the world, but I would love to have a good enough selection to mix about anything...

Here is what I have (most just picked off shelves at a duty free shop in Mexico):

Seagram's VO
Seagram's Seven
Southern Comfort
M&R Dry Vermouth
Stoli Red Label
Beefeaters Gin
Bombay Sapphire Gin
Hennesey VS
Bacardi Superior
Malibu Rum Passion Fruit
Grand Marnier
Hpnotiq
Bailey's
Midori
Som
Old bottle of Amaretto (cheap stuff)
Several old Bottles of Jose Cuervo Gold

Thanks in Advance!!

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  1. Hi - I found that my bar ingredients go with who's coming over. For the older folks, I have Dewars and VO as good ones. When younger folks are over, it's more about fun flavors (Cosmos, Moat Sauce (google it), etc.). My wife and I really got into tiki drinks for a while, so now we have about 20 different bottles of unusual liqueurs (creme de noyeaux !?!), all about 7/8ths full.
    It sounds like you're off to a good start. I'm a big fan of Grey Goose plain vodka (non-flavored), ya just can't get hung over from that stuff no matter how hard you try.

    Just pick up a bottle of something that sounds interesting every week or so, then experiment.

    Use the Beefeaters to strip paint (keep the Bombay)
    I also prefer Parrot Bay coconut rum to Malibu. I was a skeptic on a switch from Malibu, but I think the Parrot Bay has a better flavor.

    Good Luck!

    2 Replies
    1. re: MonkaD

      Tastings.com gave Beefeater 94/Best Buy.

      Just cause its cheap doesn't mean its bad...

      1. re: ac106

        I'll take Beefeater over Bombay any day!

    2. You have no Scotch, Bourbon or Irish Whiskey. For Scotch I would add something palatable on the rocks but not too expensive, Johnny Black would work. For Bourbon, maybe Makers Mark, for the same reasons. For Irish, probably Powers. If you want to get mroe expensive from these, the sky is the limit.

      When you finish the Barcardi Superior, try Ron El Barrellito.

      1. A Coffee Liqueur might be good, Kahlua seems the standard. Probably a sweet vermouth as well.

        Other stuff that may be fun:
        A Coconut Rum-Malibu perhaps?
        Jagermeister?
        Something chocolatey, Creme de cacao, chocolate liqueur

        Captain is also right that you want some more whisk(e)ys.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Xaga

          Thanks for all the responses... I guess I need to get some other Whiskeys. It seems there are so many different types. I need to do some research to determine what is used where.

          1. re: skywalkr2

            Most whiskey drinkers are pretty simple, whiskey and ice or water or a simple mixer like soda. And sometimes NOTHING at all but the whiskey.

            1. re: skywalkr2

              For general bar drinks you are probably good with one blended Scotch and one Bourbon. For the Scotch, I would go with Famous Grouse. For the Bourbon, Maker's Mark or Woodford Reserve.

              If you think you'll make a lot of Manhattans or other mixed drinks you could also pick up a rye, Rittenhouse is a good, affordable one.

              You may want an Irish too if you think you'll be doing Irish Coffees.

          2. I'd add a creme de menthe, a creme de cacao, a coffee liqueur (Kahluah?), and an annisette type (I prefer Pernod, but it's an individual thing). Also a grenadine of some sort, syrup or liqueur.

            I think the best idea might be to draw up a list of drinks you and your friends like, then go through the recipes for them and check out what you don't have. Have fun!

            1. you need mixers - bitters, grenadine, etc. you might look into making some of your own (grenadine = pomegranate juice and sugar) but mixers will help expand your cocktail repertoire. i'd also suggest a bottle of rye - old overholt is cheap and good - for manhattans, ward 8's, sazerac's, etc., and some good tequila - cazedores is great for the price, don julio beats patron in my book if you want to spend more - that tequila, plus fresh lime juice and grand marnier and you have and awesome margarita.

              chow's got lots of good stuff on drinks, but the "drinks database" over at esquire magazine's website is also worth poking around in.

              4 Replies
              1. re: andytee

                I guess i just don't know what I am doign re: mixers. I went looking for "bitters" and no one seems to have any idea what these are. Any ideas where to look? Our supermarket seems to have ever alcohol ever made... but I just must not be looking in the right place.

                1. re: skywalkr2

                  I buy my Angostura Bitters in a liquor store.

                  1. re: Caroline1

                    Yes - finally found the bitters. I have finally also added:

                    - Old Overholt Rye
                    - Maker's Mark Bourbon
                    - Dewar's White Label Scotch

                    Don't have the irish yet, it's next on my list.

                    1. re: skywalkr2

                      get a bottle of jameson's. redbreast is nice too if you want something more expensive, but jameson's is my favorite everyday irish whiskey.