Before fancy cocktail bars sprouted up in every city in America, it was still possible to get a beautifully presented, delicious mixed drink—you just had to make it yourself. My grandfather Leon sure did. He kept a fully stocked home bar in the rec room of his suburban split-level and measured his ingredients with the precision of a retired chemist, which he was. When he asked his guests, “Can I get you something to drink?” he was prepared for any answer.
Today, as professional bartenders have raised drink-making to an art form, complete with obscure ingredients and specialty tools, most amateurs have forgotten just how easy it is to make great cocktails. We concocted the perfect home bar guide to get you started.
“It takes hours to make a meal for your friends,” says Lesley Jacobs Solmonson, co-author of The 12 Bottle Bar. “It takes only five minutes to make a great drink, and it can be just as satisfying.” Not to mention cost-effective, considering the price of a good cocktail now hovers around $14. It’s time to start rolling your own. And the next time guests walk through your door, you can smile and ask them with confidence, “Can I get you something to drink?”
Here’s a complete guide to stocking a home bar capable of mixing any order, plus recipes for three time-tested crowd-pleasers to get you started.
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