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How to Stock Your Home Bar for Under $100

Aug 10, 2013

How to Stock Your Home Bar for Under $100

Post-college, Solo cups of cheap beer and "hunch punch" just won't cut it anymore. Whether you're throwing a cocktail party, or having a few people over for drinks, you'll want to mix up the best for your guests. Knowing exactly which kinds of alcohol to have on-hand can get confusing (and expensive), so we pulled together a helpful guide on how to stock your home bar for under $100.

First, start with the basics. Most cocktails can be made with a base of one of the following: vodka, whiskey, rum, tequila, or gin. Here are our picks for the best spirits on a budget. (We spent a bit more than necessary on whiskey since it's our drink of choice, but feel free to sub in a cheaper brand like Evan Williams if you'd rather splurge on one of the other liquors.)

- Whiskey: Jack Daniel's 7 Black (750 ml), $25
- Vodka: Absolut Vodka (750 ml), $22
- Rum: Appleton Estate Jamaican Rum ($750 ml), $14
- Gin: Beefeater (750 ml), $20
-Tequila: Luna Azul Blanco (750 ml), $19

Total: $100*

Now for the extras:

Mixers like tonic, soda water, cranberry juice, Coke, and ginger ale are essential to a well-stocked bar and can all be purchased in small bottles or cans to store for long periods of time.

Some cocktail ingredients are better served fresh. Raid your fridge just before the party for egg whites, herbs like basil or mint, citrus fruits like lemons, limes, and oranges, and sugar and salt.

Add a dry vermouth to your stores for martinis or on its own as an apéritif. Remember, unlike spirits that can last for several months after opening, vermouth must be stored in the fridge, and only for up to two months. A small bottle is all you need—we like this one for $16. 

Simple syrups like grenadine and Rose's Lime Juice are nice to have on-hand for mock-tails, especially if you're friends with any non-drinkers or moms-to-be. 

When hosting a cocktail party, the rule of thumb is to allow for one pound of ice per guest for a two hour event. Different drink recipes require specific kinds of ice, so it's a good idea to stock up on cubes and crushed, while also making your own spheres for whiskey cocktails.

Have another couple Benjamins to spare? Check out our must-have bartending equipment in the slideshow above.

*All prices from Virginia's ABC Store.

By Caroline Hallemann

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