As cocktail culture continues to grow and find new fans, people inevitably want to bring those great drinks they’re sampling at bars home with them. Fortunately, with the proliferation of good spirits and their increasing availability, it’s easier than ever to recreate those cocktails at home, whether for yourself or to entertain guests.
We often get asked how to build and stock a home bar, where to start, what to buy and which cocktails can be made with one’s new collection. It’s an important question, and one that depends in part on your particular flavor and spirit preferences—as well as how much money you want to spend. But for starters, we’ve put together this handy guide on building a home cocktail bar for $100. Follow along, and after you cobble together your first bar, you’ll be ready to expand it gradually until you’ve got a home bar that’ll make your friends both thirsty and envious.
Start Small and Grow Your Home Bar Over Time
With a modest budget of just $100, you can start with the basics—perfect for beginners or aspiring enthusiasts—but still have a well-stocked arsenal to make a surprising number of quality drinks. Our goal with this guide is to focus on the booze, as opposed to other items such as mixers and bar tools, as this will give you additional mileage on the bottles you’re able to purchase. Keep in mind, however, that fresh juices and garnishes, as well as appropriate tools and glassware, are still important to your drink-making and your overall experience.
What to Buy for Your First Home Bar
For this bar, we included a handful of quality but affordable bottles that should be readily available in most major markets (the prices shown are average prices, and your actual cost may vary slightly depending on your local liquor store). These bottles are capable of covering a wide range of cocktails—more than enough to experiment with.
|Bulleit Rye Whiskey
If you prefer bourbon, try Buffalo Trace Bourbon at this same price point.
|Flor de Caña 4yo White Rum
|Dolin Dry Vermouth
|Dolin Sweet Vermouth
|Angostura Bitters (4oz)
|Total with bonus item
Cocktails You Can Make With Your First Home Bar
So now for the important question: what cocktails can you actually make with this bar? Well, you can make a lot of them—especially if you’ve got a few non-alcoholic mixers lying around—including a full range of modern and classic cocktails like the following:
- Perfect Manhattans
- Whiskey Sours
- Mint Juleps
- Cuba Libres
- Rum and Cokes
- Gin and Tonics
- Pink Gins
And for the intrepid home bartenders out there willing to spend a few more dollars for the bonus item, Campari, you’ll really up your street cred. But more importantly, you’ll improve your range of cocktails to include:
Going Beyond Your First Home Bar
As you become more comfortable with this starter home bar, you will no doubt look to expand your spirits collection to cover even more cocktail recipes. Two spirits that are a no-brainer are vodka and tequila, and adding a quality orange liqueur like Cointreau will expand your cocktail repertoire even further.
- Vodka Martinis
- Moscow Mules
- Vodka Tonics
- Vodka Sodas
- Vodka Greyhounds
- Lemon Drops
- more vodka cocktails
In subsequent posts, we’ll get into scotch, brandy, mezcal and more. But as you can see, you’re already equipped to make a whole lot of drinks without many ingredients. So start mixing, add more spirits, liqueurs and bitters over time, and you’ll eventually be the proud owner of a home bar to rival your neighborhood cocktail spot.