Posted by: Matt Browner Hamlin | April 13, 2011

Adding Another $50+ to Stocking Your Home Bar

Yesterday I posted a piece for PRZman about how you can stock your home bar for only $100. It’s not a complete representation of a bar and so I wondered, what could you do if you had another $50 to spend (bringing your total now to $150 or so).

Well, at this point you have a lot of options for expanding your offerings, but it really depends on your tastes. Do you like rye whiskey? If so a bottle of Old Overholt will only run you $11. If you are an Irish or Scotch whisky drinker, you have to spend a bit more, but Famous Grouse is the most popular whisky in Scotland and it’s generally available for about $19. Jameson, the Irish whiskey standard, runs about the same price.

You can go in literally any direction and find a good dark rum to add to your mix, but Appleton Estate VX, which costs about $15, is a great, versatile Jamaican rum that any good home bar should stock. Goslings Black Seal or Cruzan Black Strap, both $18, are much darker, richer rums that mix incredibly well with ginger beer.

Once you have a London Dry Gin, I think it’s critical that you get a bottle of Plymouth Gin. This softer, lighter, more citrus style of gin is common in classic cocktail recipes. A 750 mL bottle should cost around $24.

The next type of bitters that I would add would be Orange Bitters. These used to be pretty rare, but now are relatively easy to find.  Gary Regan’s Orange Bitters No. 6 are phenomenal and only about $6 for a 5 oz bottle.

If you were going to take another $50, you can’t get all of the items I just mentioned. But based on your tastes you could presumably end up with a bottle of rye, scotch, Jamaican rum, and orange bitters. Or rye, Plymouth gin, orange bitters, and a bottle of dark rum. Don’t look now, but you just scored yourself a serious home bar.



  1. Hmm, I think you’ve forgotten about brandy in the first $150…

    • Yeah that’s true, it’s not in there yet. The main reason I’ve left it off is that while there are plenty of great, simple, classic cocktails that rely on brandy, the audience for them is smaller than other major base spirits.

      If you wanted to include a brandy in the mix, I would recommend something simple like E&J, which usually retails under $20, or Deville Brandy, which is about $23. But this is an interesting category and generally speaking, I will use a different type of brandy depending on the cocktail. My preferred is actually cognac, which bumps you up a ways even for simple bottlings like Courvoisier VSOP ($45). You can also get calvados, pisco, or applejack. Calvados Morin is a great bottling for about $20. Laird’s Applejack is also around $20. A good, mid-range Peruvian Pisco for under $20 is Ocucaje Pure Pisco, though for a few bucks more you can get a really nice bottling, Pisco Gran Sierpe Querbranta.

      But the reality is that by the time you’ve spent your first $100-150, you should probably pause and rather than check off other spirits that you don’t have, but know exist, focus on building in relation to what you specifically want to drink. If you like bourbons, buy more bourbon. If you want to be able to make a Martinez, buy a bottle of Maraschino liqueur. If a White Russian is your thing, buy a bottle of Kahlua. It’s really important to cover bases in your home bar, but do so in a way that focuses around the main consumer of drinks there: you.

  2. Depends on your standards (mine are pretty low). You won’t get the aged flavor and complexity out of it that you would a good Couervoiser, but I think it’s definitely good enough to sip. It’s on the fruitier side, very sweet, and perhaps more of an acidic bite than you’re used ot.

  3. Hi,just for the hell of it I worked out the cost of the $150 list in the UK it came out at $286.I bought a bottle of Flor de Cana 4yr old it cost me the equivelant of $33.If you’re thinking of coming to the UK my advise is bring your own and a bottle of Four Roses single barrell for me cheers kevin

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