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What to get for a basic but well stocked minibar?

post #1 of 29
Thread Starter 
I'm interested in putting together a mini bar. What standard kinds of liquor should I have on hand? Brand suggestions are welcome as well.
post #2 of 29
What's your budget? There is a wide range of prices and quality for each type of liquor. But in general, you want: -Rum -Tequila -Whiskey/Bourbon -Scotch Whiskey -Gin -Vodka You could also add brandy/cognac.
post #3 of 29
Vodka, Whiskey, Rum, Gin, and some Liqueurs like Triple sec/cointreau, or mixables like Vermouth, sweet and sour,
post #4 of 29
- Bourbon
- Single Malt
- Gin
- Cognac
- Noilly Prat

should cover the basics.

Furthermore I'd add at least
- Calvados
- Eau de Vie (several)
- Armagnac

I have no idea where you live so I can't advise you of distinct brands. Although Jack Daniels and Gordon's Dry Gin should be available world wide. If you get your hands on Chateau du Breuil Calvados and Vieille Prune you should buy at once
post #5 of 29
Do you want it to be impressive or well stocked? No need to buy expensive premium brands for certain liquor, such as vodka or white rum if you are only going to use them for mixed drinks with fruit juices (cosmo) and sugars (like a mojito). And even liquor like bourbon, where the brand can make a big difference, isn't worth splurging on the better stuff if all you do is dump it into a big glass of Coke.

Anyway a good basic bar for most people;

vodka, white rum -just get a brand that is somewhat recognizable (and not embarassing to have out) and on sale. Put your real money elsewhere

tequila-get good stuff to sip, Patrone silver is a great place to start, but probably $40 a bottle. If you are just mixing with margarita mix, get Sauza on sale for about $12. Centenario Blanca or Reposado is a brand that is now more available in the US. It may be the best value in a premium tequila and consistently better than Patron. Try it if you can find it.

bourbon- Makers Mark at $20 or Woodford at around $29 a bottle. This is for sipping or with water. If you are just mixing with Coke, get Jack Daniels at half the price.

gin- you need to get good gin, not the super cheapy stuff. Tanqueray is always good but even less expensive brands like Boodles are consistently good.

Scotch-another place to spend money. I'm sure others will have suggestions for this. I don't drink the stuff but I always have some around.

dry vermouth-it's martini time!

A good shaker, shot glasses, lime/lemon juicer

A few nice stem martini glasses (Crate and Barrel is hard to beat on prices), a few heavy double old fashioned glasses for sipping cocktails and a few tall glasses for mixed cocktails like mojitos.

Check out the book, "The Bar" by my friend Olivier Said and published by ten speed press. It's also a great gift for guys.

Another thing to consider when entertaining is a "tasting". We picked this up in the tequila region of Mexico a few years ago. After dinner, bring out a series of small glasses for everyone. Pour a small sample of tequila from several different kinds going from lightest to darkest. Sample and compare. You learn a lot very quickly trying tequila this way. its fun and I guarantee your guests will remember your tequila tasting a lot more than just another cocktail party.
post #6 of 29
I forgot to add Cointreau. We use it in "top shelf" margaritas (tequila, lime juice and Cointreau) or in Cosmos (lime juice, vodka, Cointreau, cranberry juice)
post #7 of 29
Make sure you always have limes, lemons, cherries, oranges and bitters on hand for Manhattans, Old Fashioned's and the like.
post #8 of 29
I greatly enjoy scotches, bourbons, and rums. Those are my preferred drinks by far. Any of those should be served either neat or on the rocks and then enjoyed as they are. If people are ordering manhattans, use JW red so you aren't using up your good single malts. Similarly, have a bottle of bacardi on hand for the inevitable daquiri, so you can enjoy your top shelf sipping rum.

Speaking of. . . I'm all out of good rum. Hopefully my post made sense.
post #9 of 29
What's your favorite rums?
post #10 of 29
A good start in darker rums would be Myers. It is consistently good and easily found. But you can move up from there rapidly, and get into rums that are genuinely smooth and tasty. The kind that are so smooth they don't burn when you sip them neat. Pyrat is probably my favorite aged dark rum. If I remember correctly, Pyrat is part of the Patron company, and there are about 3 or 4 different Pyrat bottles. All of them are very good. I keep meaning to try one of Bacardi's attempts at aged rum, perhaps I'll grab a bottle this week. Or I may grab the Pyrat again.

Truly though, the best rums I've had were kind of no names that were aged in barrels for a long time and then eventually bottled and sold or given to family and friends. Kind of like a microbrewing revolution starting for microdistilleries, we can hope.
post #11 of 29
Originally Posted by danilo View Post
What's your favorite rums?

I like 10 Cane and Zaya, but the best I've ever had is Ron Zacapa Centenario 23 Anos. I'm having a glass right now.
post #12 of 29
There's a lot of good advice here. A very important thing is to know your audience. Who are you serving for? What are their tastes? What is your budget, to a dollar figure? Basically, drinkers come in two types: -I want something sweet or easy to drink. Often younger drinkers, more women than men. They enjoy things like Jack & Coke, vodka tonics, cosmopolitans, etc. -I want something sophisticated or obscure. Tend to be older drinkers, may or may not be pretentious about what they want. They like scotch, bourbon, chartreuse and drinks like the Negroni. The first group you can satisfy with having vodka and white rum on hand at the bare minimum. Getting inexpensive and unembarassing spirits is the way to go here, since they're going into things. Buy handles of liquor if you have some money to invest in, since it's a bit cheaper per ounce. The second group you can cater to by having a good gin on hand. Bombay, Tanqueray and Gordon's are all fine to serve and aren't too expensive. Alternately, you can get bourbon; Wild Turkey is pretty good for the money, and if you want to step up a little, Maker's Mark and Knob Creek are good calls too. This is all bounded by how much money you want to pour into it. Remember that you're a host, serving people drinks. Thus, they're not going to be picky about free booze. As long as you're serving a decent spirit, people won't get bent out about you not having tequila. If you're stocking a bar on a budget, avoid buying scotch. You'll spend too much for a bottle that will gather dust. Learn how to make five simple drinks that are enjoyable and you'll be set. Also, I haven't seen it mentioned here but stock some nice local brews and some decent, sparkling wine. Nothing sets off an evening like popping some bubbly! You'll get a good sense of what you need to buy in the second round, based on what was popular the first time through. If you're serving to younger women, then having Cointreau and Kahlua might be the way to expand the bar. If you're serving to older guys, then getting some rye and Canadian will be good. And finally, my golden rule for bar stocking: It is always better to purchase better quality spirits than purchasing a greater variety of lesser quality spirits.
post #13 of 29
Thread Starter 
My budget is this basically....whatever it takes to have a well stocked minibar. I've always been on for quality.
post #14 of 29
I would keep a few good beers on hand as well.
post #15 of 29
Thread Starter 
I don't drink beer at all. It's not my kind of drink. And for the most part, the people I associate with wouldn't drink it either.
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