SHopping list: Stocking your home cocktail bar

So you want to mix a drink at home…

Good for you. The festivity and fun of cocktails shouldn’t be “saved” to enjoy only when you’re out.

Drinking at home can be just as good. It’s safer, because you don’t need to worry about being on the road. And it can be a heck of a lot cheaper than ordering a mixed drink from your local bar.

Not to mention how easy it is. By keeping certain ingredients on hand, you’ll be able to quickly whip up whatever you or your guests want.

Here are the basics to stock in your home cocktail bar.

You don’t need many ingredients to enjoy a quality mixed drink at your home cocktail bar.


Vodka – The lack of strong scent or flavor makes vodka a versatile liquor. It works with a variety of mixers as well as other alcohols. If you’re going to be sipping your vodka solo, go for a better-quality brand. If you’re going to mix it, you can use a slightly lower-end brand.

Gin – Another versatile base liquor that tends to take on the character of whatever it was infused with. London dry gin is the most popular type and is typically what you’ll find in most gin cocktail recipes.

Tequila – If you only get one to start with, make it a silver, blanco, or white tequila. These mix easily, making them popular in cocktails. They also have a smooth taste for doing shooters.

Scotch – Go for a traditional Scotch whisky—made in Scotland from barley and aged in oak for at least three years. If you’re going to be mixing it often, you might want one that’s less smoky. If you’ll be sipping it, go for whatever taste you like. You might want to have two different Scotches for these different purposes.  

Bourbon – Like Scotch, this American whiskey can be enjoyed by itself or as the base ingredient for a cocktail.

Rum – which type to get depends on how you like to drink it. Light rums (also called white or silver rums) are popular in many cocktails. Dark rums work well in heavier cocktails like a Hurricane or rum punch. They also stand on their own due to their strong, sweet flavor. This is another liquor which you might want multiple bottles of.

Brandy – Cognac is the most classic. For a second brandy, consider something fruit flavored that you can enjoy alone or in a cocktail.


These non-alcoholic beverages are what turn your liquor into a cocktail.

  • Club soda
  • Tonic
  • Cola
  • Ginger ale
  • Lemon/lime soda (7-Up or Sprite)
  • Fruit juices: Cranberry, Orange, Pineapple, Tomato
  • Angostura bitters (not truly a mixer - bitters are added to certain cocktails one splash at a time)


Looking for some unique garnish ideas? Don't try these at home...

Garnishes put the finishing touch on your drink. You might have many of these things in your cupboard or fridge, or behind your home bar, already. 

  • Lemons (including the rind)
  • Limes (including the rind)
  • Olives (preferably pitted)
  • Tabasco sauce
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Sugar
  • Ice

Now what?

Click here to see the different ways to prepare a drink.