How To Stock Your Home Bar

Guidelines for Beginners:

1. Choose things that you like, not what you think you should have. You're not a business, this is a home bar. You're looking to please yourself! Or maybe, for some of you, impress your friends. To each their own.

2. If you make cocktails every night, look for good values for your base spirits. Taste a lot. Blind taste. Don't get swept up in brand marketing.

3. Be wary when you see words like "premium" and "top shelf."

4. Have a bottle from every category you enjoy, but build up slowly. You don't need to buy it all at once.

5. Keep a few mixers on hand. Fresh citrus, tonic water, ginger beer, a bottle or shrub or homemade simple syrup.

6. Have at least one kind of bitters, and if it's only one, make sure it's an "aromatic" style.

For a bit more guidance, here are some suggestions to get you started. It's a work in progress and I've probably forgotten something. 

Basic Bar

Vodka : Gruven / Kirkland Brand

London Dry Style Gin : City of London / Brokers / Trader Joe's Rear Admiral London dry

New American or Western Style Gin // Bluecoat / St. George Botanivore

Bourbon, mixing grade : Elijah Craig Small Batch/ Buffalo Trace

Bourbon, sipping grade : Four Roses Small Batch / Eagle Rare 10 year

Rye, mixing grade : Rittenhouse 100 / Hochstadter's

Blended scotch, mixing grade : Bank Note 5 year / Black Bottle

Single Malt, sipping grade : Speyside or Highland

Blanco Tequila, Mixing grade : Cimarron / Espolon

White Rum, mixing grade : Diplomatico

Aged Rum, mixing grade : El Dorado 5 year

Brandy (Armagnac/Cognac) mixing grade : Pierre Ferrand Cognac 1840 / Tariquet VS Armagnac 

Sweet Vermouth : Carpano Antica

Dry Vermouth : Dolin Dry

Curacao or Triple Sec : Merlet Triple Sec / Bauchant Orange

Fruit liqueur (apricot, pear, raspberry, etc) : Rothman & Winter / St George Spirits

Bitters : Angostura / Peychaud's

*Extra Credit: Campari / Aperol / Luxardo Maraschino / Fernet Branca

Intermediate Bar

Vodka :  St. George All Purpose

London Dry Style Gin : Sipsmith / Beefeater / 
Trader Joe's Rear Admiral London dry
New American Gin : St. George Botanivore / Benham's Sonoma 
Barrel Aged Gin : Rusty Blade /  Barr Hill Tomcat

Bourbon, mixing grade : Elijah Craig / Henry McKenna 10 / 
Eagle Rare 10 year 
Bourbon, sipping grade :  Four Roses Single Barrel / Rowan's Creek / Willet Pot Still
Rye whiskey, mixing grade : Rittenhouse 100 / Hochstadter's / Sazerac
Rye whiskey, sipping : Pikesville / Alley 6 / Pendleton 1910 (12 yr)

Blended scotch, mixing grade : Bank Note 5 year / Aisle of Skye 7 year

Single Malt, sipping grade : unpeated
Single Malt, sipping grade : peated
Japanese or World whiskey : Aksahi White Oak / Hibiki Harmony

Blanco Tequila, mixing grade : Cimarron / Pura Sangre

Mezcal -- Espadin : Bruxo No. 1 / Yuu Baal / Mezcal Union
Reposado or Anejo Tequila, sipping grade : Tequila Ocho / Siete Leguas

White rum, mixing grade : Santa Teresa Claro / Plantation 3 Star

Aged rum, mixing :  Hamilton Demerara/ Diplomatico Anejo
Aged rum, sipping : Foursquare Port Finish / Plantation Single Island

Brandy, mixing grade : Pierre Ferrand Cognac 1840 / Tariquet VS Armagnac 

Brandy (Armagnac/Cognac) sipping grade : Park VSOP or XO / Delord Napoleon Bas Armagnac / Dudognon Reserve 

Sweet Vermouth : Punt e Mes / Dolin Rouge

Dry Vermouth : Noilly Pratt / Carpano Dry
Aperitivo : Aperol / Campari
Curacao or Triple Sec : Pierre Ferrand Dry Curacao
Fruit liqueur (apricot, pear, raspberry, etc) : Giffard / St George / Pur
Misc Liqueur : Leopold's or Luxardo
Amaro/Fernet :  Fernet Branca / Meletti Amaro / Ramazotti Amaro

Bitters : Angostura / Peychaud's / Reagan's Orange or Angostura Orange

*Extra Credit : Green Chartreuse / Eau de Vie / Calvados / 

Hella Crazy Stocked Bar Cause You're A Baller:

Coming Soon...


  1. I wish this guide existed when I was first buying stuff! Not too late to fill in some gaps though... :-)

  2. P.S. Where would you put Chartreuses, the Campari/Gran Classico/Aperol-ish family, and Smith 'n' Cross in your basic-to-baller spectrum?

    1. Hmm, Chartreuse would be extra credit for the intermediate bar. Campari and family, well that's just a terrible oversight on my part. Would definitely put them in the "must have" for intermediate. Good ol' Smith n Cross...maybe there should be a "Secret Cabinet" section for those in the know. :)