Creating a well-stocked home bar is within your reach if you have a champagne or a beer budget. Your bar should contain the ingredients for a variety of cocktails, but you don't have to make it the clone of someone else's bar. Start with the basics; collect some cocktail recipes that appeal to you and add the ingredients to your shelves.
Every home bar should hold a few of the same staples, the basic liquors that you can use to make numerous mixed drinks. One bottle each of vodka, gin, tequila, brandy, rum, and whiskey gives you a solid start, but that's all. Make adjustments based on your preferences, your budget and the season. For instance, stock up on gin and tequila during summer cookout season and replace them with stomach-warming brandy and whiskey during cold weather. You also need bottles of red and white wine for the wine enthusiasts in your life.
A few bottles of syrups, extracts and bitters help you turn basic liquors into signature cocktails. You'll need orange bitters for martinis and Angostura bitters for Manhattans, for instance. Other popular flavor additives include schnapps or liqueurs made with flavorings such as orange, raspberry, coffee, chocolate or nuts. Simple syrup adds sweetness to drinks, but you can make this mixture of sugar and water yourself at home. You'll also need dry vermouth for many popular cocktails such as martinis.
Your bar should have drinks to mix with liquor and to serve to those guests who don't imbibe. Club soda and tonic water are popular cocktail mixers, as are fruit juices such as orange and cranberry juice. You may also want to pick up soda, including cola, ginger ale and non-alcoholic ginger beer. A bottle of sour mix helps you whip up margaritas or whiskey sours. Limes, lemons and bottles of green olives, cocktail onions and maraschino cherries complete the garnish section of your home bar.
To perfectly mix drinks, stock your bar with a cocktail shaker, a strainer, a long bar spoon and a jigger for measuring liquid. You may also opt to pick up an ice bag, cutting board, lemon squeezer and a knife for slicing citrus. Any home bar should include a corkscrew and ice bucket or small cooler and an assortment of glassware. At minimum, pick up at least six each of wine glasses and both short and tall tumblers. If you have the space and budget, expand your collection with specialty glassware such as martini or margarita glasses.