Home Bar Essentials, Part 1 - Liquors and Liqueurs to Stock


While stocking your home bar, you can either go the traditional route or take inspiration from a professional bar. Your style, taste and budget also come into play when you are customizing your liquor collection. The Whiskypedia recommends you to focus on diversifying the selection of drinks you actually prefer instead of going after exotic choices.

For example, if you prefer whisky over vodka and other liquors, focus on diversifying your whisky selection. The same goes for non-alcoholic mixers and liqueurs. After all, it makes no sense to stock stuff you aren’t going to drink.

Essential Liquors for your home bar

For creating a well-rounded home bar, you should have at least one bottle of the six base liquors. You can mix almost any cocktail with these liquors in your bar.

  • Vodka – The clean, transparent and flavorless liquor is used for more cocktails than any other spirit. A bottle of Absolut vodka is a must-have if you fancy tall drinks like the Screwdriver or Bloody Mary or an occasional Vodka Martini. For mixing more diverse cocktails, you can also stock bottles of flavored vodka.
  • Gin – While not everyone is a fan, it’s nice to have at least one bottle handy. A good bottle of London Dry gin can work everything from dry martinis to regular gin and tonics.
  • Tequila – An essential for mixing margaritas or other fancier cocktails, tequila is enjoying new-found glory in modern home bars. A nice bottle of Blanco works best, or you can also pick a slightly aged option in Reposado.
  • Rum – Among the more affordable liquors, rums are widely admired for their sweet, warming properties. We recommend stocking a regular workhorse for daily consumption and prepping most cocktails and a dark, spiced option for more exotic tropical mixes.
  • Whisky – Perhaps the most complicated to select among all other liquors, whisky selection for your home bar needs careful planning. Each style has its own characteristics and use. Bourbons are known for their mixability, as are Canadian whiskies. Rye whiskies are also an excellent choice for mixing spicy cocktails. However, leading the pack are premium blends and single malts with their classic flavor and smoothness. Irish whiskeys are also making a comeback on the world scene and a bottle of Jameson shouldn’t go amiss from your collection.
  • Brandy – Typically consumed as an after-dinner digestif some people tend to avoid drinking or mixing with brandy. A good brandy rounds off the selection, coming in handy when mixing classic cocktails like the Metropolitan and Sidecar.

Essential Liqueurs for your home bar

Liqueurs are used for adding flavors that define a cocktail. Some cocktails are made using just the liqueur as well. Liqueurs come in a variety of flavors and can last a long time. For your home bar, start with the basics and keep adding new flavors to your stock over time.

  • Amaretto – The almond-flavored liqueur is used in both casual and fancy cocktails.
  • Coffee Liqueur – Used in White Russians and countless other cocktails.
  • Dry and Sweet Vermouth – A must-have if you love martinis.
  • Irish Cream Liqueur – A cream liqueur based on Irish whiskey, cream and other flavorings. Typically, it is served on its own or in mixed drinks like Irish coffee.
  • Orange Liqueur – Options for this citrus liqueur include curaçao, triple sec, Cointreau, and Grand Marnier. If you love citrus cocktails, have two or more bottles handy.

Once you have the essentials sorted, let your liquor and liqueur collection grow organically. You can keep adding more varieties of spirits, and even reserve special spots for ultra-premium and luxury brands like Chivas Regal and The Glenlivet. The liqueur collection can also expand to more exotic choices such as Benedictine, Crème de Cacao and Midori. And don’t forget to read our follow-up blog for essential non-alcoholic mixers for your home bar.


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