Entertaining At Home – Setting Up Your Home Bar

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Note: I know not everyone drinks alcohol, and that’s great – you don’t need to drink to entertain in your home. The purpose is to encourage you to build relationships. If you don’t drink – just skip over this Home Bar series, but I hope you still get the message I’m trying to convey. It’s important for us single gals to connect and have strong relationships that are not romantic in nature. These connections help us live happy and content while still single.


Setting Up Your Home Bar

Entertaining in our homes is a great way to bring people closer and develop stronger relationships. Feeling lonely or just want something to do? Invite a few friends or family members over and let the fun begin! You don’t have to cook gourmet meals to entertain at home, a casual get together for cocktails is always appreciated by guests. Entertaining at home is also way cheaper than going out. So why not set up a home bar and make YOUR place THE place to be?

Make YOUR place THE place to be!

Setting up a home bar from scratch can be kind of confusing and turn out to be an expensive endeavor if you aren’t sure of what you need. I’m a firm believer in spending wisely, so keep reading to find out the basics you might want to start with.

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Although the liquor is the main attraction, when starting out don’t spend extra money on high dollar brands if you are going to be making mostly mixed drinks and cocktails. Go for middle of the road brands, but never the super cheap labels. Yuk! Don’t even drink if you have to go for that harsh stuff. However, if you are going to be sipping your spirits, then by all means, go for the good stuff and get something worthy!

The basic spirits you need to make most drinks from your home bar are vodka, gin, rum (light & dark), tequila, and whiskey. Of course start with your favorites, then round out the bar with your friends drinks of choice. Customize your spirits to your crowd. For instance, if no one is a gin drinker, skip it for now then add in later when hosting a larger gathering.

For tips on choosing the right vodka for your home bar, read this.

You should stock a few bottles of wine also, red and white. Pinot Noir is a good choice for the red and maybe Moscato or Reisling  for the white.


Serving in the proper glass is key to your drinks. Just starting out you’ll need some wine glasses, highballs, rocks and martini glasses for sure. You can serve just about everything with this collection.

Tip:  Look for glassware at estate sales. You can find some really cool, vintage glasses that will give your bar a bit of flair.


These chimney style glasses are also sometimes called the Collins or the Delmonico. You can go as basic or detailed as you’d like. Pictures below show a few different styles. Choose what you like. Highball glasses usually hold 10-16 ounces, but can vary in size.

Highballs are used for tall mixed drinks served over ice. Common cocktails served in highballs are any x and y drink (gin and tonic, vodka and lemonade, etc.) and other mixed cocktails that don’t have their own special glassware.


Tip:  Get the best quality glassware you can afford. You’ll be using these for a long time.


Rocks glasses are smaller than highballs, holding around 6-8 ounces, and are usually used for serving, as their name implies, liquor on the rocks (over ice). This glass is also sometimes called an old fashioned glass, aptly named for on of the most popular drinks made in it, the Old Fashioned. There is also a double old fashioned glass which usually holds 10-12 ounces and is sometimes substituted for the highball.

Whatever you want to call it, this glass is great for making any drink you build in the glass, as opposed to using a cocktail shaker to build then pouring into a glass. For example, when you build an Old Fashioned, you muddle your ingredients in the bottom of the rocks glass, then add your ice and liquor.

Tip:  Go for a rocks glass that has a good feel in your hand.


The martini glass is my favorite! Just something about holding onto the stem and sipping something delicious makes me feel sophisticated. Although, I sometimes sip from a martini glass while lounging in my jammies! Nothing sophisticated about that. 🙂

Use a martini glass for cocktails that are shaken or stirred, but served without ice. The stem’s purpose is to lift the drink away from your hands therefore keeping it from warming with your touch. These glasses come in different sizes, just get what appeals to you.


There any many types of wine glasses to choose from. Typically they fall into three categories – red wine, white wine and stemless. Red wine glasses are generally a little taller and have a larger bowl than white wine glasses. The theory being that red wine is bolder so it needs a larger glass to allow the aroma and flavor to emerge. If you want to buy two separate types of glasses, that’s great. I typically serve both types of wine from the same stemmed glass.

Tip:  A nice bottle of wine along with a couple of unique wine glasses makes the perfect gift for a housewarming, birthday or holiday. Take a look at some of these neat ones…


The mixers you choose to keep on hand for your bar are going to vary depending on what you like to drink. Have as many as your budget allows so you can whip up a variety of drinks when friends drop by for a little fun.

http://myhappysinglelife.com/entertaining-home-setting-home-bar/Basic mixers to keep close by are Coke (mini-cans are great – the perfect amount for a mixed drink. , 7-Up (again, mini-cans are the perfect size), tonic, and club soda. Also a variety of juices, like orange and cranberry, as well as a good lemonade. I personally always have a natural raspberry lemonade stocked in the fridge. My favorite drink is Tito’s with just a touch of raspberry lemonade served in a martini glass. Mmmm… is it 5:00 yet?


If you are stocking your bar on a budget, you can get by with just a few basic tools. Below are a few that are great to have on hand, but just get the ones you need for your favorite drinks and add others as you need them.


There are a couple different types of shakers: the Boston shaker style, which is basically two tumblers that fit together to form a seal and the cocktail shaker style, which is a tumbler with a strainer and lid topper.

Most bartenders prefer the Boston shaker, while I feel the cocktail shaker is probably your best bet for the home bar.


If you do go with the Boston shaker, you will definitely need a strainer. It’s a good idea to have one on hand anyway. This is the easiest way to pour your shaken cocktails into the glass straining out any ice, leaves or other extras.


The jigger is a measuring tool used for your liquors. There are many varieties, so just pick what you like. A basic jigger serves the purpose, but having a unique one adds a little fun to your bar.


Depending on the drinks you want to make. You may find you need a muddler. If you want to make a Brandy Old Fashioned or a Mint Julep you are definitely going to need one. The muddler is used to “muddle” ingredients to bring out their best flavors, most often, fruits, herbs and sugar cubes. For example, for a Brandy Old Fashioned you would muddle your sugar, bitters, orange slice and cherry in the bottom of the glass before adding your brandy and lemon-lime soda. Muddlers can be wood or stainless steel. I personally like a wood one, it gives a certain classic appeal to the process.


Tip:  It may be easier on your budget to get all your tools at once by investing in a nice bar tool set like one of these… (Also makes a great gift for someone!)


There are a few other things you are going to need to round out your bar. If your budget allows, keep these on hand too…


Having bitters at your bar is a must for making classic drinks like the Brandy Old Fashioned I mentioned above. It was once considered a medicinal tonic to cure cure headaches, and stomach aches, but now bitters are mainly used to boost a drink’s inherent flavors. Bitters is a combination of botanical, fruits, spices, bark, and roots distilled in a base liquor. There are flavored bitters available now also, but I’d stick to a basic, like Angustura, to keep things budget friendly.


There are two types of vermouth: sweet and dry. To keep fresh longer, store both types in the refrigerator. You are going to need both to mix fabulous martinis!
Tip:  Only buy small bottles of vermouth. Like wine, vermouth will go “off” once it’s been opened.


Some people don’t care for garnishes, but for me, the proper garnish can make or break the drink. What would a classic margarita be without salt around the rim? Sometimes the garnish adds just the right flavor, sometimes it’s just visual appeal. Either way, to truly enjoy the home bar experience, add the garnish! Olives, lemons, limes, oranges, and maraschino cherries are all popular. Fresh herbs can also enhance your cocktails.


Setting up your home bar should be a labor of love for yourself, friends, family, and neighbors. Experiment with different liquors and glassware, create something new – have your own signature drink. Your bar should be a gathering place to develop closer bonds and enhance relationships. A source of fun and relaxation. Don’t ruin it by over-drinking yourself or over-serving others. Most importantly – NEVER DRINK AND DRIVE.

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