Building Your Home Bar

Building Your Home Bar

Building Your Home Bar: The Liquor Starter Set

In this introductory series, we will learn about the liquors, bitters, syrups, glassware, and bar tools you need to set up your home bar.

Once you've mastered the basics, you will learn a classic cocktail each week including its history and variations. I've researched and tested (that was the fun part) the most elevated versions of each of the classic cocktails to give you a firm foundation for your cocktail journey.

The most daunting thing about setting up a home bar is knowing what liquors to invest in. The good news is that you can start small.

Think about the cocktails you enjoy. What is the main alcohol? Start there.

I'm a gin girl myself so I actually have three kinds of gin, Botanist for most uses, Gin Mare for a Mediterranean G & T, and Hendricks for a proper British Gin and Tonic. I accumulated my collection one bottle at a time, as I needed it, and now I have a somewhat embarrassingly large collection.

Here are the basics I recommend along with the brands I use:

Basic Liquors

  • Cognac, Courvoisier VS
  • Bourbon, Bulleit
  • Gin, Botanist
  • Light Rum, Diplomatico
  • Triple Sec, Cointreau (triple sec is a generic term for any clear, strongly-flavored orange liqueur)
  • Rye Whiskey, Rittenhouse
  • Blended Scotch, Dewars 12-year.
  • Tequila, Casamigos (whatever you get, make sure it's made from 100% agave)
  • Vodka, Reyka

Bitter Italian Liquors

  • Campari
  • Aperol


  • Dry, Dolin Dry
  • Sweet, Carpano Antica Formula

Start with one or two bottles to make your favorite cocktails and branch out from there. Remember that liquor lasts pretty much forever. I had a bottle of Yellow Chartreuse in the back of a cabinet that was perfectly fine 25 years later!

Vermouth on the other hand is a fortified wine and lasts only two months in the refrigerator. Some manufacturers, like Dolin, make smaller bottles so you have a better chance of going through your vermouth before it loses its flavor.

What is your liquor of choice and why do you like it? Let us know in the comments. Go to, find this post, and scroll to the bottom.