With the weather finally beginning to clear up and the prospects of an actual summer, its worth checking your home bar to see what you have already and what you need.

We all accumulate drinks from different places, parties, christmas and birthday gifts and having friends over, so you may have a good deal of what you need to get started already. If so, of course you should adjust your shopping list accordingly!

The Basics

You should aim to have the following ingredients to hand to cover the vast majority of drinks requests, then we’ll look at what to add so that you are ready to impress with some cocktails.

  • Vodka
  • White Rum
  • Gin
  • Triple Sec or Cointreau
  • Tequila
  • Whiskey (Scotch or American)
  • Cola (Diet and Regular)
  • Lemonade (Lemon Soda)
  • Soda Water
  • Orange Juice
  • Pineapple Juice
  • Cranberry Juice
  • Apple Juice
  • Lemon and/or Lime Juice
  • Simple Syrup
  • Red Wine
  • White Wine
  • Rose Wine
  • Beers

While that may look like a long list, as I mentioned above, check out what you have already and you’ll be able to knock out a bunch of those items in most cases. This list will mean 95% of people at the party can have a drink they enjoy. The 5% left over will vary based on the demographic of your group, if its a younger group, you may find you’ll need some sweeter liquors added, along the lines of Archers or Malibu, with older crowds look towards fortified wines like Vermouths and ports and perhaps brandy.

If you’d like to impress, have a think about what kind of drinks your party would enjoy, but don’t try to have a fully stocked cocktail bar or you’ll end up spending a fortune on artisan bitters and flavoured vodkas that will sit at the back of the cupboard for years to come (unless of course these are your favourites!). Instead look to make a specific cocktail or two to greet your guests on arrival, and go to town on the garnishes to make the most of what you have.

Preparing for the day

Be sure to have essentials like plenty of ice on hand for your drinks, the tools you need like shakers, beer and wine openers, ice scoops and clean glassware. Pour spouts will allow you to pour more accurately and make everything look infinitely more professional. Make yourself a physical shopping list of anything you need like garnish fruit, juices and liquor and take it with you to the store so you don’t forget anything, the last thing you want is to be caught short on the night!

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