When it comes time to host a party at your place, will your bar cart be ready? Liquor should always be a priority when holding a get-together, so don’t skimp on your stash. But where do you begin? With thousands of options, choosing a collection of goodies – especially if you’re on a budget – can be overwhelming. It’s not impossible, though, to satisfy your guests without spending tons of money on drinks.
Start With Basics
Whipped cream vodka can call to you from the store shelves, but how many options do you have if you’re dealing with such a distinct taste? Rather than buying the sweets and sours, go for the straight, unflavored base liquors. Whiskey, vodka, gin, tequila and rum are your main basics, so choose your favorites while making sure both clear and brown liquors are represented on your cart.
Even if you have to buy fewer bottles, avoid liquors of bottom shelf quality. They can be surprisingly vile and thus negatively distracting in mixed drinks. Another little money-saving tip: buy the tiny baby sized bottles if you’re unsure whether or not you like a product. That way you’re not stuck with mountainous amounts of something unappealing. Still not sure which liquors to buy first? Look up recipes online for popular cocktails or ones you’ve previously enjoyed and base your choice on that.
Infusions and Syrups
Making your own simple syrup, or cocktail sweetener, is super easy and cheap. You can even make flavored syrups to add kick to whatever you mix up. Basically all you need to do is take a cup of granulated sugar and boil it into a cup of water. To flavor, all you have to do is wrap your strips of lemon, mint or whatever you want the flavor to be, in a cheesecloth and insert in water during boiling process. Pretty simple, right?
Infusing your liquors is just as easy, and will add even more variety to your bar cart. Clear alcohols generally take better to infusing, although it can also be done with darker options. Gather your desired flavors – basil, berries, garlic, fruits, herbs or whatever you want to use – and wash them before soaking. After washing your ingredients, you basically leave them to soak in an airtight container for as long as necessary. Having both syrups and infused liquors will definitely add some zest to your bar cart.
As you try new products, you can see which of the flavored or specialty liquors you like the best. Because you know you will drink them, you can start adding these to your cart as well. Do not start adding products to your cart because they’re pretty or expensive – only invest in the big bottles when you know you or your friends like it.
Don’t Forget the Extras
All of your initial base liquors and favorites will look great on your bar cart. But do you want to drink them straight? If not, and you want to get creative and enjoy some tastier blends, you should collect mixers and extras to concoct some really delicious cocktails. Luckily these are pretty cheap. Have some fruit juices, tonic water and sodas on hand in order to make the most of your bar cart’s contents.
Don’t forget little extra garnishes like limes, lemons, orange slices and maraschino cherries. Not only do these things add flavor to your concoctions, but they will also add to the overall presentation of your bar cart.
Liquors and mixers aren’t the only things that can widen your drink options. Purchasing cocktail shakers, strainers and muddlers won’t cost you that much but can really enhance your possibilities. You can also stock up on proper serving ware – like copper mugs, silver cups and fine glasses. These, along with your tools, can make your at-home drinks feel a little more formal and legitimate.
Once you’ve stocked your bar cart with the above suggested items, you can always upgrade its contents over time. Take it slow, enjoy collecting new things and don’t be afraid to experiment – with even just a few key items on your bar cart, your possibilities are endless.