You have the bar, the stools and the friends are waiting to come over for a drink. Now you’re wondering what you should stock your bar with. While it’s important to stock up on your personal favorites, you want to have more in there than the fixings for a pina colada or gin and tonic. When you are stocking your bar for happy hour, remember to include these classic requirements.
Serve it Up
There’s more to a bar than the booze; you also need something to serve it in. Keep six to ten cocktail or martini glasses on hand in the bar. Look for smaller ones that will encourage guests to sip rather than get plastered in the first half-hour. The ideal size is four to six ounces.
In addition to the cocktail glasses, you also need some standard old-fashioned glasses. These are perfect for the guest who just wants a whiskey on the rocks. Keep them stored upside down so dust won’t collect inside when they aren’t in use.
Finally, you need six to ten tall glasses, otherwise known as hi-balls. Perfect for those punches, tiki concoctions and other sweet drinks, theses will be used regularly. It’s great if you can get all the glasses to match. You can choose regular glass, or you can look for themed glasses that will delight your guests and serve as conversation starters.
Invest in a shaker with a tight lid for mixing up those drinks that are shaken, not stirred. A small cutting board is handy for slicing fruit, and a little set of bar tools will look smart on the top of your bar. When you have the tools of the trade on hand, you will look professional and in control even if you don’t feel that way.
Every good bar has ice, but you probably won’t have a freezer sitting right at the bar. Invest in a cool ice bucket to keep the ice in. If possible, get one with a handle. That will allow you to cart the party outside when the occasion calls for it. You might also want to have a cooler handy to keep extra ice ready to go with the party starts.
Bartender, What’s the Special?
You never know what your guests will be interested in, so it’s a good idea to have a healthy selection of booze. The basics include rum, vodka, gin, bourbon and scotch. You will also want a collection of various sodas for mixed drinks. However, a well-stocked bar goes far beyond these basics.
Mixed drinks are great for barbecues, but you also want some more sophisticated fare for dinner parties and smaller gatherings. Have vermouth on hand for mixing martinis, and keep a good bottle of brandy for those people who prefer to sip a drink. Fine liquors you might want to consider include cognac, single-malt whiskeys and amaretto.
Pick up some mixes for those fun and fruity drinks. Whether your guests love margaritas or pine for strawberry daiquiris and mudslides, it’s a good idea to have a few bottles of the mixes on hand for their enjoyment. Other favorites include Kahlua for white Russians and a collection of Schnapps.
The Little Black Book
Pick up a book of bar drinks, and keep it at the bar for when guests stop in. If they ask for something you’ve never heard of, you can look it up and mix it like a professional. You can also flip through it for ideas on fun drinks you can mix to surprise and delight your friends.
Keep a pad of paper and pencil at your bar. When guests are over and want something you don’t have, make a note of it on the list. You don’t have to stock the bar at one time. You can gradually add to it, eventually creating a killer bar that will be the envy of all your friends. Use the paper to keep a list of items you run out of and the ones you need to invest in.