Want to stock up your home bar, but not sure where to start? Hi, it’s your resident home mixologist, here to help! I may not be a professional bartender, but my husband Alex and I have made it our life goal to make all the great cocktails in the world, in the comfort of our own home. With 250 under our belt, we’ve learned a hell of a lot along the way. Here’s what you need to know about becoming a homemade cocktail expert…without breaking the bank.
We’re here with a unique approach to home cocktails—pretty simple mixology, you could call it. It’s the same as our approach to healthy home cooking. Here’s what we think: don’t go out and buy a bunch of liquor bottles that you might not use. Instead, base it around a single recipe that you love!
I tell people the same thing when it comes to home cooking. Don’t feel like you have to buy every spice at first, or every type of pan or kitchen gadget. Find a recipe that sounds delicious, and start there! Buy the spices and tools you need for that recipe. You can stock your bar in the same way, which is less overwhelming and helps keep the cost down! We’ll show you a few examples here…
Before you start loading up on liquor, there are a few tools you’ll need for the job. Here’s what we recommend:
When you build an at-home bar, we suggest that you pick your favorite drink, or a favorite, and then build within that theme. More on that below! But to give a little background on the types of liquors you’ll see in cocktail recipes, here’s a quick and dirty overview.
The vast majority of cocktail recipes you’ll see will use one of the most popular five liquors. I call them “The Big Five,” which I’m not sure if I heard from a professional bartender or made up myself! Either way, you’ll see these five in most of the classic cocktails:
There’s also a background cast of supporting characters that make up most cocktails. These are secondary cast members you’ve probably heard of but might not know intimately. Examples:
We suggest stocking up on these liquors based a specific cocktail or a style of drinks you love (like this classic whiskey sour). Here are some specific examples!
Do you love a classic Negroni? Build out your bar based on this popular bitter cocktail. Here’s what you’ll need:
Once you mix up the classic, drink through all these Campari Cocktails to use up your bottle, which keeps things cost-effective! Add bourbon to your setup for a Boulevardier, and dark rum to make a Jungle Bird.
Do you love a Moscow mule or a gimlet? There is a whole list of lime cocktails you can make with just a few ingredients:
Gin was very popular during American Prohibition, so it’s spawned some of the greatest cocktails in history. Buy gin, then buy new liquor as you tick down the list of Great Gin Cocktails.
Sonja is author of award winning food blog A Couple Cooks and the cookbook Pretty Simple Cooking. Together with her husband, Alex, the two are leading voices on plant-based eating, and authors of a recipe series with Washington Post Food called Voraciously: Plant Powered. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.
BY Sonja Overhiser - March 9, 2021
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Thank you for being here. For being open to enjoying life’s simple pleasures and looking inward to understand yourself, your neighbors, and your fellow humans! I’m looking forward to chatting with you.
Your photography is amazing.