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Getting Started: Home Bar 101

For some reason, everyone always looks cooler when they're standing behind a bar, especially when the bar's set up right. The first step to setting up your bar is to get a sense of what kind of drinks your guests will want. Figuring out their favourites will help you create a list of what you'll need to get at the store for your party. Once you've done that, stock up on basic spirits and mixers. Here's a list of what you need:

Essential liquors

  • vodka
  • whiskey
  • tequila
  • rum
  • gin

Not-so essential liquors

  • vermouth
  • red wine
  • white wine
  • bottled beverages (prepared cocktails, beer)


Fresh juices improve taste, but if you're in a squeeze, bottled juices will do. Remember to pick up plenty of soft drinks and water for those designated drivers.

Essential mixers

  • club soda
  • cola
  • simple syrup
  • cranberry juice
  • pineapple juice
  • ginger ale

Not-so essential mixers

  • apple juice
  • grapefruit juice
  • tonic water
  • grenadine syrup
  • Pre-made mixers are for a do-it-yourself bar. You can use them to make your favourite cocktails.


Bright, fun and sometimes funky, a garnish is the perfect finishing touch.

  • fresh mint
  • fresh strawberries
  • maraschino cherries
  • fresh lemons
  • fresh limes
  • bitters
  • sugar
  • salt
  • Rimmers (glass-top flavourings for Mojitos, Cosmos and flavoured Martinis)

Setting up the bar

  • Pick an area with enough space for people to gather.
  • Accent your bar area with fun prints on the napkins and the tablecloth.
  • Make sure you have enough glasses-caterers generally stock have as many glasses as guests. If you're running short, disposable cups come in all shapes and sizes.
  • Put out a large pitcher of drinking water for those designated drivers.

If you're looking to save a few bucks, try creating a theme around a few cocktails, like classic and flavoured Martinis. Many of the spirits and mixers listed above can be stored for future parties. Have fun!

Ask guests to bring mixers or spirits or hors d'oeuvres.