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How to Stock the Perfect Home Bar Cart

You don’t need an advanced degree in mixology to put together an enviable living room bar.

liquor bottles
Courtesy

Stocking a bar cart may seem intimidating, but it’s simpler than you think. With a mix of essential base spirits, aperitifs, liqueurs, bitters, non-alcoholic mixers and a few unexpected bottles to show off your personality, you’ll be ready to make hundreds of cocktails for even your most discerning guests.

Core Spirits

Tequila

Courtesy

Siete Leguas Blanco

totalwine.com
$52.99

Blanco tequilas can sometimes be a bit lacking in flavor, but Siete Leguas’s take on the form blends a blanco’s traditional smoothness with an intense flavor of cooked agave.

Bourbon

Knob Creek Small Batch 9-Year Bourbon

totalwine.com
$47.99

Bottled at a robust 100 proof, Knob Creek’s 9-Year Bourbon boasts a hearty oak flavor after spending nearly a decade encased in the stuff.

Rum

Plantation Barbados 5 Years

caskers.com
$25.99

A happy medium between light and dark, this tropical golden rum spends the first three or four years of its aging process in retired bourbon barrels.

Gin

Sipsmith London Dry Gin

drizly.com
$35.99

Equally at home in a martini or negroni, Sipsmith’s traditional London Dry Gin is distilled in its namesake city from a smooth and complex blend of 10 different botanicals.

Vodka

Reyka Vodka

totalwine.com
$22.99

If you’re looking for mass-produced vodka, this ain’t it. Icelandic Reyka is distilled in small batches from lava-rock-filtered glacial spring water. The result is an exceptionally clean spirit.

Personality Bottles

Single Malt Whisky

Suntory Whisky Toki

totalwine.com
$44.99
$29.99 (33% off)

The acclaimed world of Japanese whisky can be intimidating and expensive, but this bottle from industry leader Suntory makes for an approachable and affordable introduction.

Mezcal

Pierde Almas La Puritita Verda

totalwine.com
$41.99

Like a good, quality tequila, this young mezcal is made with 100 percent pure agave. Use its subtle smoky flavor to punch up your margaritas, or sip it over ice.

Absinthe

St. George Absinthe Verte

totalwine.com
$63.99

St. George was first out of the gate with a new American absinthe after the spirit’s ban was lifted in 2007, and its authentic recipe remains the best way to chase the green fairy.

Liqueurs & Bitters

Triple Sec

Cointreau

totalwine.com
$37.99

There’s no more essential or versatile liqueur than orange liqueur, which figures in too many classic cocktails to count. And there’s no more essential orange liqueur than clear and complex Cointreau.

Aromatic Bitters

Angostura Bitters

amazon.com
$10.67

The most ubiquitous bitters in existence, Angostura’s vaguely medicinal blend of herbs and spices is a must-have for any home bartender looking to make old-fashioneds or Manhattans.

Orange Bitters

Regan's Orange Bitters

amazon.com
$13.99

If you’re willing to venture outside of Angostura when it comes to bitters (and you should), your first stop should be Regan’s refined take on old-school citrus bitters.

Aperitifs

Dry Vermouth

Routin Dry Vermouth

astorwines.com
$399.00

Sometimes vermouth can be an afterthought, but not this French-made concoction of sauvignon blanc and jacquère wines that’s been infused with 17 different plants and spices.

Sweet Vermouth

Antica Formula

wine.com
$18.99

Far less cloying than your average Italian vermouth, Antica Formula brings a bittersweet complexity to your cocktails. Keep this and your dry vermouth in the fridge once opened to maintain freshness.

Aperitivo

Forthave Spirits Red Aperitivo

drizly.com
$39.00

Lovingly crafted in a natural botanical-focused Brooklyn distillery, this American aperitivo makes for a bright and refreshing alternative to the usual Amari standbys of Campari and Aperol.

Mixers

Club Soda

Regatta Pacific Sea Salt Club Soda

drizly.com
$5.25

Club soda adds length to a number of popular drinks, and Regatta’s innovative and premium version uses evaporated sea salt to achieve the perfect level of carbonation.

Tonic

Fever-Tree Premium Indian Tonic Water

amazon.com
$14.43

Fever-Tree’s tonic utilizes authentic quinine from Central Africa and bitter orange oils from Mexico, for flavor that blows away your typical supermarket fare.

Ginger Beer

Maine Root Ginger Brew

walmart.com
$39.39

Ginger ale’s sharper, stronger cousin, ginger beer brings bite to tipples like the Moscow mule. Maine Root’s rendition is exceptionally spicy and ginger-forward.

A version of this story appears in Gear Patrol Magazine. Subscribe today
Matthew Stacey
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