Your Man Cave is complete now that you have finally fulfilled a lifelong dream and set up your wet bar. Few things in life impress more than knowing your way around a well-stocked bar, except, perhaps in your case, you don’t know your way around a bar after all.
If you’ve gone through your entire life drinking beers and the occasional Screwdriver, then you are probably wondering how the hell you are going to manage to stock your brand new bar properly.
It’s time to graduate to the big leagues; I am going to walk you through the stocking process and by the time we are done you will have the perfect Man Cave bar.
In full disclosure, there are a million ways in which you can go about doing this. There are hundreds of cocktail recipes, and if you go about attempting to stock for all of them, you will spend thousands of dollars. Fortunately, that would be completely unnecessary; with just a handful of essentials you can set up a fully functional Man Cave bar.
They are called essential for a reason. Every bar should always have these in stock. While they are good straight up, they are also the base alcohol for 1000s of different mixes.
Rum it is made from sugarcane, because of this white rum has a very neutral flavor. It is this crisp, clean quality that makes it the ideal base alcohol for many popular cocktails and shots.
A darker rum has a complex taste than a plain white rum. I prefer it when drinking rum straight up or mixing it with a simple drink like coke because it brings a little more depth to the table.
If your adventurous, rum plays well in the kitchen as well. Rum balls are a holiday favorite in my home. There are tons of recipes where rum plays the center stage.
White or dark? The answer is both.
Vodka is excellent for doing shots, yet the fact that it has a neutral flavor profile allows it space in many cocktail recipes and preparations as well.
Because of its mild aroma and taste, it is the perfect ingredient for mixing. Vodka has the privilege of having one of the most diverse markets around.
If you are the adventurous type, you can find some exciting flavored vodkas too. While fruit flavors are most common, vanilla and chocolate flavored vodkas can also be found.
Some maniacs have even gone so far as to make flavored bacon vodka. The point is if you are interested at all in making Bloody Marys, Kamikazes, Mudslides, Long Island Ice Teas, and of course White Russians, you will need to have a decent vodka bottle around.
Whiskey is a complicated subject. People have written volumes on whiskey. You have your Scotch, you have your Irish, you have your Canadian whiskeys, you have your American whiskeys, and even whiskeys out of Taiwan are winning World’s Best awards these days.
Then you have to choose between single malts, blended malts, and grain whiskeys. Each type possesses its own qualities, characteristics, and possible uses. So how do you make sense of all this?
By keeping it simple and sticking to the basics. I recommend you stock your Man Cave bar with two bottles. A Bourbon and a Scotch will provide your bar with the most versatility by covering the cocktail crowd and those that like a classic On The Rocks.
This juniper-flavored spirit is one of the broadest and most versatile categories of spirits; several styles, all with markedly different flavor profiles, make up the bulk of what is commonly known as gin.
Gin possesses one of the most complex flavor profiles out of all the spirits, and it is one of the most common bases used for making some of the most popular cocktails. Try making a Gin and Tonic or a Martini without gin and let me know how that goes.
And we haven’t even scratched the surface yet
You will do no wrong having a bottle or two of Tequila for making Margaritas. If you like your Tequila straight, I recommend you splurge on some Blanco. Spiced Rums are great for those delicious tropical cocktails. If you love Mojitos, you love Rum.
The bottom line is at the end of the day you should stock up on what you like, there’s no point investing in bottles that you are not going to drink.
Glassware and Other Tools
Obviously, you won’t be drinking these straight out the bottle; you will need a decent set of proper bar glassware. Typically, acquiring the right glasses for each drink will quickly ramp up in cost, after all, you are going to need anywhere between 4 to 8 glasses of each type.
However, unless you suffer from butterfingers or have careless friends, your glassware will last you a long time, so we feel the investment is worth it.
Here are some of the basic types of glassware worthy of being a part of your Man Cave bar:
All-purpose glassware provides much-needed versatility for your bar. Use them to serve Beer, Soda, and a wide variety of mixed “tall” drinks. Consider purchasing some high ball glasses as these are perfect for drinks that require the use of ice.
No bar is ever complete without a set of shot or “whiskey” glasses. You can find them in a variety of styles and sizes to suit your tastes. Additionally, shot glasses can be used as measuring tools behind the scenes.
Everyone knows what a cocktail glass looks like, even if they don’t drink. Use these for any drinks that are served without ice. Avoid going for the larger sizes available these days; we recommend sticking to the classic four and a half ounce measure. The smaller glasses will help to keep drinks cooler for longer. Nobody likes a lukewarm martini, trust me.
Rocks glassware is also known as Old Fashioned Glasses. These bad boys typically have a wide brim and a thick base. The most common measures range from 6 to 10 ounces. Anytime you get asked for a drink “On the Rocks” these are the glasses you need to pull out.
Now that you have your liquors and your glasses, you are going to need some essential bar equipment to mix and blend some drinks properly.
Having some measured pourers around is crucial when making fancy drinks that require various ingredients. Two-sided cone-shaped “Jiggers” are perfect for this.
You will also need to consider investing in a quality shaker. Your choice of shaker will be a matter of personal preference; A “Cobbler” shaker has a smaller footprint, and it is simple to use. Its screw-on cap makes it perfect for home use. Meanwhile, the “Boston” shaker is larger and provides more versatility but is prone to spill.
If you are serious about cocktails, you will also need a strainer, a muddler for crushing fruit and herbs, a juice press, some knives, peelers, and a blender. We haven’t even gotten to the mixers and garnishes.
My advice though is to start small. Trying to do too much too fast is a common mistake that can lead to frustration and disappointment. Gradually work your way up in complexity; this will save you a ton of money and wasted effort. I recommend getting just a few high-quality liquors and ingredients and mastering a few drinks and cocktails at a time. Have fun!