My own home bar (for now)

I make a cocktail once or twice a week, if that, and I always cut the recipe in half. The result is that it takes me months, sometimes even years, to finish a bottle. Over the past two years, I went a bit overboard on getting new things faster than I could drink them and ended up with a collection.

Over the weekend, I did a quick inventory and jotted some random notes:

  • Gin (Plymouth) (I ordinarily wouldn’t have this, but $14 for a 1L bottle at duty free was too good of a bargain to pass up when it’s $35/750 ml in Michigan)
  • Gin (Tanqueray) (chosen after taste testing it with Bombay Sapphire and Beefeater mini bottles)
  • Vodka (Tito’s) (chosen after taste testing it with Grey Goose and Smirnoff mini bottles and remembering other vodkas I’ve had over the years, including Absolut and *barf* Popov)
  • White rum (Flor de Cana 4 Extra Sec) (probably won’t rebuy unless a recipe specifically requires white rum)
  • Gold rum (Flor de Cana 7) (unopened)
  • Dark rum (Myers’s) (half bottle, unopened)
  • Bourbon (Buffalo Trace) (my second bottle)
  • Bourbon (Elijah Craig) (I don’t drink often enough to need more than one bourbon at a time and Buffalo Trace is great, so I either won’t rebuy this or will alternate with Buffalo Trace.)
  • Rye (Rittenhouse) (A workhorse rye. I love Manhattans made with this.)
  • Cognac (Courvoisier VSOP) (I got a half bottle for experimenting. It’s interesting, but I won’t rebuy.)


  • Campari (I burn through this faster than anything else. Campari and soda is my go-to drink.)
  • Cointreau (an essential liqueur that appears in lots of cocktails)
  • Green Chartreuse (for making the Last Word, one of my favorite cocktails)
  • Luxardo Maraschino (again, for the Last Word)
  • Cherry Heering (This is great in Singapore Slings and will have fun experimenting with this, but probably won’t rebuy. Not that it’ll be an issue for a long time…)
  • Benedictine (Ditto. It took a while for me to warm up to this strong, sweet, herbal liqueur. It’s essential in Singapore Slings and Vieux Carres, but I don’t love those enough to keep this around when there are so many other drinks I enjoy.)
  • Marie Brizard white creme de cacao (I impulse-bought this to make Brandy Alexanders. I won’t rebuy this for the same reasons I don’t have Frangelico or Kahlua–it’s not versatile enough for the drinks I prefer to make. At least it’s tasty straight and in coffee.)


  • Cocchi Vermouth de Torino (I always have a half bottle of this for Manhattans and negronis.)
  • A standard set of bitters (Angostura, Regan’s No. 6 orange, Peychaud’s)

At least it’s a well-considered collection and not haphazard? Cocktail geeks and people who entertain a lot will probably scoff at this list (Only 18 bottles? No tequila or Scotch? Only two bourbons? What about dry vermouth for martinis?) and other people may think I have too many. I feel somewhere in between: I like having options, but there’s a fine line between options and clutter, and clutter makes me antsy.

Honestly, I’d rather have a smaller but still efficient collection. I suspect I’m not the only one, judging by the success of articles like The 9-Bottle Bar and books like The 12 Bottle Bar and The One Bottle Cocktail (a book I highly recommend if you enjoy messing around in the kitchen).

I think my ideal home bar has between 8-10 bottles, so I won’t rebuy many of the things I currently own. In the meantime, I’ll have fun experimenting and really getting to know each item until it’s gone. Which, at my current rate of use, will be a long time from now.