You can’t go wrong having beer and wine on hand at all times— and maybe some champagne too!

But if you’re planning to entertain beyond you and your better half, an easy reference guide for home bar must-haves comes in handy!

simple bar must-haves for every home

go go gadget

To get the coldest shaken cocktails, you need cracked ice that comes in the trusty old 10-pound bag at the supermarket. If you want to use your own, just put ice from the tray in a large plastic trash bag and go to town with the meat mallet. On the other hand, if you’re stirring cocktails, use ice from the tray. The big, dense cubes will stay colder longer, without watering down your beverage.

And while we’re on the subject of shaken versus stirred cocktails, Manhattans and martinis are way better stirred (despite everything you’ve heard from James Bond). Keep a bar spoon handy to stir the ingredients—you know, the funny looking spoon with the long handle. Stirring a cocktail will keep the ingredients colder and silkier, yum!

If your cocktails require fresh fruit, break out a muddler. It’s the best way to infuse the essential oils of fruits and herbs into mixed beverages. No muddler? No problem! Grab a wooden spoon from the kitchen and use the stick end to bruise fruits and leaves.

Debating whether to buy a cocktail shaker? If you and your ‘picnicking friends’ are martini fans, then a good cocktail shaker is worth the investment. Pick your poison then throw it in the freezer anywhere from 5−15 minutes. The metal from the shaker will help you beverage achieve a frosty temperature, making that vodka martini extra smooth.

glass half full

Now that you’re an adult, it’s time to ditch all the plastic movie theater cups you’ve accrued over the last 10 years. And unless you’re at a tailgate party with those red Solo cups, we need to talk about grown-up glassware.

If you’re a wine drinker, the first thing you need to think about is proper stemware. Are you seeing dollar signs? Don’t fret! You don’t have to go out and purchase both red and white wine glasses. Instead, invest in universal stemware that will suit both varieties.

If you’re celebrating with the bubbly, bust out the champagne flutes you got from Aunt Marge at your wedding. The surface of a flute encourages the formation of bubbles, while the shape accentuates their ascent. But we won’t judge you if you’re tempted to drink straight from the bottle, either!

Last but not least, it’s handy to keep around tall glasses for mixed and muddled drinks and short glasses for those who like their liquor neat or on the rocks.

happy hour

Have you ever been to a liquor mega-warehouse? If so, then you know that there are a gazillion options of wines and spirits to stock the home bar. You don’t need much—just the basics.

Vodka just so happens to be the workhorse of the liquor cabinet. Used in basic drinks such as vodka tonics, screwdrivers, martinis and beyond, a mid-grade vodka like Absolut or Skye will taste great without having to break the bank.

If it’s summertime, white rum is handy for daiquiris and mojitos—if it’s winter, the luscious smell of juniper berries that accompanies a bottle of gin is perfectly festive for holiday celebrations.

If you’re browsing for good tequila, keep in mind that the best tequilas are made from 100 percent agave—be sure to check the label. If you ask us, a good margarita is always appropriate!

Bourbon, scotch and whiskey start getting personal. There are so many ages, brands and flavors that you only want to buy these specialty items when the boss comes over or the in-laws are in town.

Bottom line—don’t be afraid to tell friends to BYOB if you’re making all the food, or ask them specifically what they want to drink if you’re going the whole nine yards!

Cheryl Says

You don’t need to hire a bartender to host a party. Put cold alcoholic beverages in a large ice bucket so guests can help themselves!