Stocking a Bar

I have a good friend who moved away and is still sort of making her apartment a home. I’m thinking I want to get her liquor for a housewarming gift. What are the very basics that everyone should have? We’re young and we like mixed drinks, so I’ll be getting rum and vodka… and that’s where my creativity ends. Suggestions for different kinds of alcohol as well as things like shakers, glasses, mixes or whatever else you think is appropriate would be appreciated.

As for brands, I’m not looking to spend too much but if you think a particular brand is a shining example of everything that’s good about alcohol, recommend it and I’ll see what I can do. Thanks, guys!

My home bar has vodka and rum of course, but also a few different wines, amaretto, Crown Royal, tequila…it really depends on what you guys like to drink. If you are getting alcohol as a housewarming, I would go with only one, and make it a top shelf brand. Spread the word and get others involved. Stocking a liquor cabinet is not cheap.

If you want to go with a more tangible and lasting gift, get a set of rocks glasses, wine glasses, or shot glasses. Maybe an ice bucket and tongs.

Also, nice bottles to decant the booze into. It’s sorta 60’s-ish, but it’s nice being poured from a costume bottle, and then you don’t have to worry about brand snobbery, unless that’s what you’re going for.

We have 1-L. clear reagent bottles for our decanters, since we have a very well-stocked bar, but didn’t want to spend $50 each on crystal decanters. Geeky, but interesting.

From memory, our bar contains:
Vodka (Grey Goose and Blavod)
Gin (Plymouth)
Rum (Captain Morgan, Bacardi light)
Whiskies (Scotch, Bourbon, and Rye)
Triple Sec
Schnapps (Peppermint, Peach, Root Beer)

I’m sure there’s more, but I forget.

Mixers on hand:
Sour mix
Ginger ale
Rose’s Lime Juice

Mixers bought before parties:
Grapefruit juice
Tomato juice, worchestershire sauce, garlic salt for Bloody Marys

Other stuff:
cocktail glasses (e.g. martini glasses)
old-fashion (rocks) glasses
pilsner glasses
wine glasses
champagne flutes
shot glasses
cocktail shaker

We have a full fridge in our bar, with an ice maker, which holds the mixers, beer, etc.

My recommendation is to buy for what you like to drink - if you like cocktails, start with the hard liquors and mixers you already enjoy and some cocktail or rocks glasses. Our bar has expanded as our circle of friends has, since we like to cater to as many tastes as possible. A guide like Mr. Boston Bartender’s Guide can help you expand.

It’s pretty damn hard to find nice bottles to decant in that are actually air tight, and if they’re not air tight the liquor will degrade over time. I’m sure they’re out there, but everything I see for a decent price are decorative only.

I heart MN Maenad!

Well, these Pfaltzgraff decanters aren’t decorative only, although I can’t say if they’re as airtight as you’d like. If you’re concerned about airtightness, you could shop around for corks. It’s the thought, and some legwork, that goes into a nice gift.

Actually I think they are decorative only, or perhaps useful for the short term (that is, for the evening of a party or something). It’s a bit hard to tell, but it looks like the stoppers don’t have anything that would make them airtight.

I’m concerned about airtightness, because long-term storage of good liquor in one of those bottles would ruin it. And sticking a cork in the top of a pretty decanter sort of ruins the prettiness, don’t you think?

Delete duplicate post.

You can find several places that sell basic barware sets. Glass sets, too. Get her some glassware, some basic tools and a couple of good bottles of booze. The rest can grow on its own.

Decanters are a waste of space, IMO.

Nope. Not in the slightest. Corks work just fine for wine and some decently expensive bottles of tequila. If you’re planning on storing a bottle of something special for 40 years in the wine cellar of daddy’s castle, well you probably aren’t concerned with decanters. Decanters aren’t designed for long-term storage. Once it’s open, it’s kinda hard to re-close it for long-term storage.

I’d suggest a reasonably priced Top Shelf Bourbon or Scotch as a gift; something like Glenfiddich or The Glenlivet or Chivas Regal in Scotch, or Maker’s Mark or Woodford Reserve or Wild Turkey 8yo in Bourbon.

Midori is a useful thing to have in one’s liquor cabinet too.

I also keep a bottle of Kahlua, a bottle of Cointreau, and a bottle of Baileys in my cabinet too, FWIW.

I was going to jump all over this, but then I saw the “reasonably priced” qualifier. :smiley:

Reasonably priced is the key. If it’s too expensive you’ll never drink it and people will think you’re a pretentious wanker who’s showing off; if it’s too cheap then you look stingy and, just as importantly, it’s not going to be as nice to drink.

If you are in Wisconsin or Minnesota, you should add Brandy to the list.

I’d start a bar with one whiskey (bourbon, scotch, whatever), one rum (light), one vodka, one gin, and probably a tequila. I wouldn’t go expensive unless you (and she) can afford to maintain it - which either means you can afford to regularly drop $100 on booze and want to do so, or you don’t drink too often and a bottle of good vodka will last years. Also several bottles of drinkable wines in red and white.

I’d add to the bar rounding out whiskeys, a second rum (dark), and the standard liqueurs

None of you guys are proper alcos. Your bars are way too well stocked!

Wow, thanks, you guys! Sorry I haven’t checked back in for a bit, I live in a residence and the internet here is being really spotty this week. MN_Maenad, you’re a hero. I am leaning toward getting a variety of stuff as opposed to just one or two top-shelf sort of things, ideally I want her to try a lot of stuff and decides what she likes, because right now we drink vodka and rum and not much else. This is about discovery!

Speaking of which, anyone have any good drink recipes they’d like to share? I’ll probably get her a recipe book, but by all means let me know if you have something special up your sleeve!

Thanks again, guys. I really appreciate your help.

My recommendations:

The Savoy Cocktail Book
The Craft of the Cocktail
The Waldorf-Astoria Bar Book
Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails

Thanks, Hunter Hawk!

OK, I just stumbled across a doc I put together for a friend of mine that has some very basic cocktail recipes. I’ll copy & paste some recipes into a few posts following this one.