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Now, let’s talk what, exactly, you need. If your plan is to have a fully stocked bar, here’s a list of the basic spirits, liqueurs, and mixers to buy:




  • Vodka

  • Gin

  • Tequila (100% blue agave)

  • Rum (both light and dark)

  • Bourbon

  • Scotch (both blended and single malt)

  • Cognac



  • Vermouth (both dry and sweet)

  • Cointreau

  • Disaronno

  • Campari



  • fresh lemons and limes

  • Simple syrup: Make by dissolving equal parts water and sugar over heat—it keeps for several weeks in the refrigerator.

  • Bitters: A traditional aromatic like Angostura gives you the most versatility.

  • Club soda, tonic water, cola, or ginger ale. Or, if you like artisanal mixers, companies like Fever Tree and Q Soda make delicious flavored sodas.



In addition to the right spirits, you’ll need the right tools to whip up great cocktails. The most important one to have is a Boston Shaker, which consists of a metal tin accompanied with a mixing glass. I prefer it to those fancier shakers with the flat top and strainer, because you can get a better seal when shaking and the glass can be used for other techniques, like muddling or stirring.

Other important tools to have include:


  • Jigger (I recommend a 1 oz. and 3/4 oz. combo)

  • Muddler

  • Bar spoon

  • Hawthorne strainer

  • Citrus peeler

  • Handheld citrus press





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