Setting Up a Bar

Setting up a bar can be a lot of fun but it can be frustrating, too. Where to begin?

Start with the booze. Get plenty of the stuff you like, of course, but for versatility’s sake, stock up on a broad selection of the most commonly served beverages. After a little time and a few parties have passed, you’ll know what needs restocking often and what isn’t ‘selling’ so well. You can always adjust accordingly.

Consider this liquor list to get started with but do customize it to better suit your preferences and your budget:

  • 3 bottles vodka
  • 2 bourbon
  • 1 US blended whiskey
  • 1 Canadian blended whisky
  • 2 Scotch
  • 2 gin
  • 2 rum
  • 2 tequila
  • 1 dry (white) vermouth
  • 1 sweet (red) vermouth
  • 3 liqueurs in different flavors (coffee, mint, fruit, etc.)
  • 1 apéritif

Setting up a bar means establishing a wine cellar, too. Start out with this list of 18 bottles and be sure to keep an ample supply of champagne, white, and rosé wines chilled for ready drinking. The reds are best served at cool room temperature, never chilled. Keep all unchilled wines in a cool, dark place where they won’t be disturbed more than necessary.

  • 2 bottles champagne or sparkling wine
  • 3 French reds (Burgundy or Bordeaux)
  • 3 European whites (Alsatian, Rhine, Moselle, Italian)
  • 2 rosé or blush wines
  • 4 reds from US, Australia, Italy, Spain, or South America
  • 3 whites from US, Australia, Italy
  • 1 sherry (Spain) or port (Portugal)

Keep plenty of beer on hand, especially if it’s something you drink often. Make sure there’s ample room to chill it in abundance, especially while a party is in swing.

Start your beer collection with a case or two of your favorite beer. Include a case of a popular domestic beer or two and add another case or two of imported brews.

Stock as many different kinds of beers as possible. American beers are usually lagers or pilsners. Popular European beers are stouts, porters, and ales. Beer ranges in color from clear, pale yellow to dense, murky black. Work up an interesting variety of beers from around the world for the liveliest parties.

Setting up a bar isn’t complete with just beverages, though. You’ll need all the basic bar tools, including appropriate glasses, to get your party in full swing.

Chances are your friends and family will be so happy to be invited to your parties they’ll be happy to bring bar gifts to get you started. Why not invite them all to a grand opening of your home bar and ask them to bring bar tools and gadgets to complete the package?