Raising Your Bar(cart)

Friday, 6 November 2015 | Tags: , , , , , ,

I like to keep a well stocked bar. Not just for myself, but for my friends who seem to invite themselves over a lot. Which I love of course. I was born to entertain! And as we're soon heading into the official entertaining season, it's more important than ever to be at the ready. Here is everything you need to become a mixologist along with a few buying tips and recommendations.

Hard liquor:

  • Vodka (my picks: Kettle One or Hangar One if you can find it)
  • Gin (my pick: Tanqueray)
  • Tequila (my pick: Don Julio Reposado)
  • Bourbon (my pick: Knob Creek)
  • Scotch (my picks: Cragganmore or Balvenie)
  • Vermouth (my pick: Noilly Prat)


You should have two bottles each of red and white on hand. If you’re not sure what to buy, the most versatile grapes are pinot noir for reds and riesling for whites. That said, I am never without chianti and chardonnay.

And here’s a fun money saving idea: why not custom make your own wine? I did it this year and it’s super easy. Just drop into a local wine making store, choose your grape from just about any country in the world, then all you have to do is sprinkle some yeast over the juice and come back several weeks later to pick up your wine.  Simple and affordable. Plus you can make your own cute labels.

Keep one bottle of sparkling wine chilling, for last minute celebrations. Italian Preseco is refreshing on it’s own or in an aperitif (like an Aperol Spritz or a Mimosa) you can find good ones for under $30 or if you want the real thing, Moet & Chandon never disappoints!


  • Tonic and Soda (always go for brand name. The bubbles last longer and there’s less of an artificial taste)
  • Lemons, limes, oranges and grapefruits (for both garnishing and making your own fresh juice – which makes a world of difference.)

Essential Extras:

  • Green olives
  • cocktail onions
  • Simple syrup

Glassware: (6 each of the following)

  • Highball
  • Old fashioned
  • Martini (if you get the “coupe” style these can double as champagne glasses)
  • All purpose wine



  • Glass vessel (no need for a shaker)
  • Jigger (for measuring)
  • Stirring rod/spoon
  • Strainer
  • Muddler
  • Hand juicer
  • Wooden mallet (for smashing ice)
  • Spritzer
  • Vegetable peeler (for making a twist)
  • Square ice cube tray (for the perfect cubes)
  • Cocktail napkins (cloth or linen will add a level of sophistication)





Nasty bits:

  • Cigarettes (not my thing, so I can’t recommend a brand)
  • Matches (which you picked up from some excellent restaurant)
  • Cool ashtray
  • A place outside where the “social smokers” can fill their lungs



Truthfully, this is just the start. I haven’t even gotten into trays, carafes, cocktail picks or bar carts! Having a well-stocked bar and the know-how to mix a drink or two will impress your friends. (I am the master of the martini and you will not soon forget my margarita) But be warned, If you keep your bar stocked as I’ve suggested here people will come over a lot.

I think I just heard the door bell!

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  • Tim Edwards

    Hi Anna, good list, the only change I would make is I prefer Don Julio Blanco instead of the Reposado because it’s better for mix drinks. The Reposado is better straight up. Can’t believe you still know people who smoke. yuk lol

  • Jim Bell

    I don’t see any Canadian whisky on the list …