Tips for Stocking a Home Bar

As Bar Manager at Clyde Common and Pepe Le Moko in Portland, Oregon Jeffrey Morgenthaler has spent a better part of his life training people in the techniques of bartending. Morgenthaler, who also writes a weekly column for Playboy, released his first book in June, “The Bar Book: Elements of Cocktail Technique”. Morgenthaler believes that there are three things, of equal importance, that make a great cocktail.

The first element is the recipe you choose:

“There are a million cocktail books out there and they’re all full of recipes.” Selecting the right book for you is important.

The second element are the ingredients you choose:

Some types of juice are better than others, certain liquors shine better in specific drinks than others, etc. “There are a ton of books out there about spirits and ingredients.”

The third element is technique:

Prior to the release of Morgenthaler’s book, nobody had written a book entirely about technique before. His goal was to answer the important questions. What’s the best way to make a blended cocktail? What should I be looking for in a shaker? How do you make an orange twist? “So that was really the catalyst, the desire to open up another important area of discussion regarding cocktails.”

Morgenthaler also gave CraveOnline tips for replicating the perfect bar at home. 

Setting up your home bar:

Pick a drink you like, and buy the ingredients for that. “A home bar should be about relaxing and having fun, not trying to stock every ingredient out there should someone order some obscure cocktail.” That’s what a professional bar is for. At home, your guests will enjoy what you make them. “You’re not there to take orders. Invite them over for Daiquiris, and they get to have Daiquiris. I think that’s a good way to slowly build up a collection and also learn how to make one drink perfectly.”

Every bar needs spirits:

What spirits you stock your bar with depends on your personal preference. For bases, buy the spirits that you enjoy mixing with. “If you don’t like scotch, then I wouldn’t say it’s important for you to have scotch in your home bar.” The same goes for professional bars. “We don’t sell a lot of Cognac in one of our bars, so we don’t carry that much of it. At our other bar we sell a ton of Cognac, so we carry a pretty intricate selection.”

Every bar needs tools and ingredients:

It might be surprising, but you don’t need a vast collection of obscure bar tools to have a viable home bar. “I can make most drinks with a pint glass, a mixing tin, a plastic chopstick, and a teaspoon and tablespoon measure.” The most important ingredient, according to Morgenthaler is simple syrup. “Pretty much every drink contains it, better have some on hand.” Other important ingredients include vermouth and your fruit juices of choice.

It’s important to experiment and have fun:

Too many home users try to turn their home into a professional bar, and forget they’re there to entertain and have fun. “I always wonder why people would want to do that, set up a sort of imitation bar in their home. It would be like me building a fake lawyer’s office in my basement. Right?”


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