For those who love to entertain, a properly stocked bar is a must, and it doesn't need to break the bank. By assessing your needs each season and before planned gatherings, you can start with the basics and build from there.

Planning the bar of your dreams can also be a lot of fun. To help you along in this effort, we have prepared the following guide of essential bar supplies that you should always have on hand to help cement your role as 'host extraordinaire' at your next get-together or party.

Look for a home bar that is both functional and serves as an attractive showpiece for your home.

THE SETUP

If you don't already have a bar, there are a lot of styles to choose from to suit your decor and personal taste, but be sure that it also has the features you require to entertain effortlessly. Features such as scratch- and fingerprint-resistant bar tops for mixing drinks, plentiful and flexible storage, and floor levelers are a must for today’s personal bars. 

BDI offers stylish designs that incorporate functional elements that ensure our furniture is as practical as it is beautiful.

Some other essentials for your bar setup as outlined by MasterClass, include:

  • GLASSWARE: You’ll want red and white wine glasses, along with some pint glasses. Include some basics for serving cocktails, like double old-fashioned and Collins glasses.
  • CUTTING BOARD: A good home bar should be stocked with at least a couple of cutting boards to prepare the garnishes and ingredients for a variety of cocktails.
  • GRATER: A grater, peeler, and zester set allows you to prepare citrus fruits to use as garnishes. Different drinks call for different types of garnishes, so a good grater will allow you to serve up your guests’ favorite drinks in style.
  • ICE: Always have an insulated and accessible ice bucket on hand.
  • JIGGER: A jigger is an hourglass-shaped measuring tool that is a staple of any bar set. One side of a jigger contains a measuring cup for a standard shot and the other is for a slightly smaller “pony” shot.
  • BOTTLE OPENER: A handheld or wall-mounted bottle opener is a necessary bar tool for home bartenders. There are also a number of all-in-one bar tools that contain all the essentials you need.
  • COCKTAIL SHAKER: A cocktail shaker set is a must-have for those who prefer their cocktails James Bond-style. Luckily, there are various shakers to choose from at all price points—just make sure your shaker is durable and made of a strong material like stainless steel. 
  • MIXING GLASS: A durable mixing glass—separate from a shaker—gives you a designated place to stir and combine ingredients for cocktails.
  • STIRRER: Cocktail stirrers are long stirring implements that allow bartenders to quickly mix a drink without splashing ingredients onto the bar top. These are often made of glass or stainless steel, so as not to affect the flavor of the drink.

THE SIPS

In addition to the proper bar setup, a good host must also have the essential libations on hand for any gathering—small or large. To start with, an assortment of wines is a staple for entertaining. It’s always a good idea to offer different varietals that range from crisp or fruity to buttery white wines, or dry, full-bodied to more fruit-forward reds. And don’t forget the champagne!

Beer is also an essential for any get-together. Like wine, a range of beer choices will help guests find something they enjoy. Be sure to offer a mix of ales, lagers, IPAs, wheat beers and stouts. Plus, a handful of ciders would be ideal for those who like a more sparkly beverage.

Beyond wine and beer, there are a handful of key liquors and mixers that round out a well-stocked bar.

    • VODKA shows up in more drinks than any other distilled spirit. Whether you’re serving brunch — bloody Marys and screwdrivers — or hosting an evening gathering — vodka martinis and Moscow mules — there’s always a time and a place for it.
    • GIN is the bleu cheese of liquors — people either really love it or they really don’t. But as the base for a number of classic cocktails — the gin martini, the gimlet, the negroni, and, of course, the gin and tonic — a London dry gin is a must-have.
    • TEQUILA is an obvious necessity for taco night — who doesn’t love a margarita? — but it can more than hold its own as a stand-alone beverage. Ideally, you can keep an inexpensive Blanco tequila on hand for mixed or blended drinks and a nice mezcal for sipping neat.


    • WHITE RUM is the star player in the ever-popular mojito and essential to a good daiquiri. But don’t overlook dark or spiced rum, which adds depth and complexity to tropical drinks like the mai tai.
    • WHISKEY drinkers tend to be loyal to their preferred variety, so it’s good to have at least three on hand. Bourbon and scotch are typically served neat or on the rocks, while rye is a fantastic base for cocktails like the old-fashioned and the Manhattan.
    • LIQUEURS like amaretto, Campari, Cointreau, and vermouth play a role in many cocktails, and you can serve some of them as after-dinner digestifs.
    • NONALCOHOLIC OPTIONS are great to have for designated drivers and others who don’t imbibe. 

    If you’re not exactly ready to compete on “Next Best Bartender,” “The Savoy Cocktail Book,” originally published in 1930, will not lead you astray. We also like the Bartenders Choice app, which helps you identify drinks you can make based on the ingredients you have.

    So whether it’s a full-blown party with friends, a more intimate sit-down affair with other couples, or an extended family get-together, having a well-stocked bar can serve as the foundation for fun times and even greater memories.

    Cheers!