Home bars can range from a specially designed space with a mini sink, built-in cabinets, an ice machine and refrigerated wine cellar to a cupboard cabinet for the booze, a drawer for the tools and mixers and garnishes in the family refrigerator. There is an endless array of tools, gadgets, glassware, mixers, bitters, alcohol and garnishes, but setting up a bar can be simple. Start with the basics and add other tools and ingredients as you need them for particular events.
Here's what you need to start:
Ice bucket and tongs
Ice cube trays
Jigger or small measuring cup
When kept in a cool place where it isn't exposed to direct sunlight, liquor will stay fresh for a long time, but the lower the level in the bottle, the more quickly it should be consumed to avoid air leaching out flavors. A few bottles of liquor and a few mixers will give you a wide range of drink possibilities.
Start with these:
Tequila (the best are 100 percent agave)
(Beer and wine as warranted)
Basic mixers & flavorings
Cola and lemon-lime sodas
Bitters (Angostura, Bittermens, or Peychaud's are good starters)
Bloody Mary mix or tomato juice
Garnishes & pantry stock (as needed)
Spiced green beans
Garnish picks or toothpicks
Cocktail recipes (You can find individual recipes online or visit your local bookstore for an easy-to-handle comprehensive bartender's guide.)
Short glasses (six to eight) — a 6- to 8-oz. heavy-bottom glass allows muddling but also can be used for wine.
Tall glasses (six to eight) — 10- to 12-ounce tall glasses can be used for drinks with carbonation or a lot of juice in them.
Stemmed glasses (six to eight) — a rounded 5- to 6-ounce Champagne coupe or a martini glass can be used for mixed drinks, frozen drinks and cold drinks served without ice.
(for a full-service bar)
Champagne flute (six to eight, if you drink a lot of Champagne) — the tall narrow shape encourages the formation and ascent of bubbles.
White wine glasses (eight to 12) — a good all-purpose wine glass has a tulip-shaped bowl and a stem and is commonly considered a glass for white wine.
Red wine glasses (eight to 12) — these stemmed glasses have extra room in the bowl for aroma and vapors to collect.
Stemless wine glasses — can be used for white or red wine, but because they have no stem, holding the glass in your hand can warm up the contents. The smaller stemless glasses with an inward taper are best for dessert and fortified wines.
Beer glasses (six to eight) — with as many shapes of glasses as there are types of beer, it's best to start with a basic glass that widens at the top. If you and your friends are beer aficionados, you can expand the collection depending on the brew you are serving.