The Five Home Bar Essentials That Can Make Nearly Any Drink

The Five Home Bar Essentials That Can Make Nearly Any Drink

If you purchased everything in the local bottle shop, you’d spend a fortune (and be suspected of incipient alcoholism). What are the drinks you really need for a well put-assembled home bar?

Photo by Ryan Lackey.

As a basic set of options for a home bar, we’d recommend:

  • Vodka
  • Rum
  • Whisky
  • Gin
  • Tequila

If you have a bottle of each of these and the appropriate mixers, you can make a large range of drinks. There are plenty of nuances even in these categories (dark versus light rum, different varieties of whisky), but it’s a solid place to start. If you’re looking to stock a bar, keep an eye on your local liquor store specials and add to your bar when there’s a good special on.

Got your own additions to the list? Tell us in the comments.


  • I found Cocktail Flow on Windows 8 and Windows Phone to be great for this. After telling it what spirits, mixers, etc. you have in the cabinet, it will show you what you can make with that. It also has a shopping cart suggestion area, that will list groups of 4 products that will let you make another X number of drinks. Great app.

  • My home bar always seems to consist of Vodka, Midori, Blue Curacao, Gin and a creme liquer, usually Baileys. Sometimes I have whiskey, sometimes I have brandy, sometimes I have Cointreau. Sometimes I have flavoured vodkas. But the five core types are ever present.

    But my friends are pretty simple people with simple tastes. They’ll have a vodka/coke, bacardi/coke, or a midori/lemon squash, or a gin/tonic. Sometimes I have whiskey or vodka straight or with ice (depending on the quality of the vodka), sometimes my wife has Baileys by itself or with ice.

    We don’t really make cocktails, and when I do it’s a Fruit Tingle – hence the blue curacao (usually paired with imitation grenadine), which sit untouched 99% of the time. There was a period when I found myself mixing a lot of Midori illusions, but that’s as fancy as it ever got at my place.

    As it stands my bar is currently the dregs of a dozen different liquors and liquers that haven’t been touched in months because my wife is on a medication that prevents her from being able to drink, and I have ceased drinking in deference to her.

    Maybe this is why our friends don’t hang out so much anymore.

  • So basically, if you have 1 of each of the main spirits, you can make most drinks? I never would have guessed. One look at my cabinet will tell you what I like, 35 bottles and 19 of them are scotch.

    • I would also recomend breaking whisky down, have at least one bourbon (Something cheap like Jim Beam white or Cougar) and a Scotch (Preferably something nice enough to drink neat, but cheap enough to mix if desired, like Chivas 12yo or Johnnie Walker double black). Add to this a cheap normal whisky (Something in the candian club/jamieson price range) and you are catering to everyone.

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