A great ready-to-serve punch and plenty of wine or beer will keep your guests happy when you throw a big party, but there are occasions – usually smaller gatherings – when you should take drink requests. To do so, you'll need more than a half handle of cheap vodka and a bottle of your favorite scotch. That's why you should stock up on ingredients for classic cocktails: an old-fashioned, a martini, a mojito. Draw the line at green apple schnapps – no one needs an appletini – but make sure your home bar has enough booze, bitters, and garnish to keep your company satisfied.
Here is a simplified shopping list.
Forget gin's arranged marriage to tonic and lime. Hendrick's ($30) recaptures the fun of early London gins, layered with complicated botanicals and flavors, like cucumber and rose. Try a classic Hendrick's martini and you'll forsake the vodka version forever. If you're looking to make loads of gin and tonics, try Death's Door Gin, which a bit more mellow than most London gins.