It’s not just about the vodkas, gins, and whiskeys on the bar — it’s much more. "In order to make the leap from spirits on the rocks and highballs, such as gin and tonics and whiskey sodas, to cocktails, you’re going to need to invest in liqueurs and bitters such as Cointreau, Campari, and Chartreuse to up your game," Meehan says.
"Besides a bottle of Angostura bitters, there are too many great recipes to narrow down an essential arsenal," he explains. "As you’re in the process of building your home bar, the most useful bit of advice would be to make a list of your 10 favorite cocktails and see if there is a crossover. If you happen to like Margaritas and Cosmos, Cointreau is essential. If you like Manhattans and Negronis, investing in a high-quality sweet vermouth such as Carpano Antica is advisable. Once you have all the ingredients required to make your top 10 recipes, add another 10 to your repertoire and make a wish list. You can’t make great drinks with cheap ingredients, so invest smartly. Enlisting friends who typically partake in the festivities will help assuage the financial burden."
And for those pinching their pennies? "If you’re on a budget, save the cognac and single malt whiskey cocktails for special occasions and take a marathoners approach to your bar," says Meehan. "Just like building a wine cellar, stocking your home bar will require some vision, especially if you’re on a budget."