So you’re not in your late teens or your early twenties anymore. Life’s alright and you enjoy your alcohol every once in a while.

You probably have decided, or have been forced to live on your own. You earn enough to have some “fun-funds” post servicing the essentials and saving up for a rainy day. You also entertain people at home, and the entertaining involves alcohol.

You’ve decided to give up on the sippy-cup of grown up drinking – the plastic glass, and move on to a more respectable level of drunken debauchery. Or at least give it a facade of such.

You’ve decided to set up a home bar, or in the whereabouts.

Congratulations on possessing the quality over quantity mindset, coupled with an evolutionary bent of mind and a respectable aesthetic!

You’re a part of the minority that shoves humanity forward.

So what’s the denominator when setting up a home bar?

What’s bare minimum stock of alcohol and brands to kick the “barian” from the “bar”?


Here goes!

Alcohol Essentials #1 – Whisky

This class of alcohol is the base of grown up drinking. A tumbler of the amber in your hand exudes a “all grown up” aura.

Also whisky has a veneer of class. So it’ll be a great place to start your stockpile.

I’d try and steer away from IMFL most definitely, and instead concentrate on procuring one blended scotch such as a base Chivas Regal or JW Black in place. And for the joy of those who like it sweet, throw in an American whisky. Jim Beam‘s great to start with.

P.S. – You can always get better brands, but this post is about the “bare-minimums” of alcohol when setting up your first bar. Suggestions here will stick to that state of being and if you’re about “anything less than Lagavulin is dog piss”, this piece is not for you.

Alcohol Essentials #2 – Rum

Old Monk will be valid for the rest of your life. In fact as much as it gives me a hell’s fury hangover, I’ve held on to some amount of it for the aficionados turning up. And they always do.

Kraken Rum is a great catch for someone looking at variety. And a real Caribbean connection.

Bacardi white rum is the safest go to in its category as well. This is another brand that’s stood the test of times and you’re sure to find some lovers of the cult (not as much as Old Monk, but substantial regardless) brand around.

Alcohol Essentials #3 – Vodka

Who hasn’t loved vodka at some point in their lives? Thank god for Russia!

Stick to an Absolut as the bare minimum here. “Better the vodka, the lesser the hangover” is a good rule of the thumb, and in my experience anything lesser than Absolut ensures a melon splitter morning.

Skyy is a super alternative here. The price point is in the whereabouts and the bottle looks great. You might want to give it a go.

Alcohol Essentials #4 – Gin

Gin is undergoing a re-birth revolution of sorts with the advent of craft gin. The juniper scented citrus Bombay Sapphire & Hendricks have been my all time favorites and go-to for refreshing G&Ts, but some craft gins could also serve the cause here.

You can definitely go for Beefeater gin. Price and function wise it’s the Absolut equivalent here. Serves the purpose efficiently and gives you solid bang for your buck.

One domestic brand that caught my attention a short while ago was Greater Than gin. Didn’t get around to tasting it, but the packaging looks slick and I heard praises from a high IQ barkeep.

Either or.

Alcohol Essentials #5 – Tequila

Do you NEED tequila in a bar? It’s the same as “do you NEED a little madness in your life?”

If you can afford the repercussions of either, then yes, you do need it in your bar/life. Tequila is where the bender begins, where the mischief manifests and craziness converges.

Jose Cuervo clear is a decent brand and variant of fire-starter to stock. You could always go fancier, but then are “fancy” and “tequila” two words that really go well together?

Alcohol Essentials #6 – Beer

The roughneck prince of alcohol is my favorite kind of alcohol. The party for me, has mostly been fizzy AND chilled.

However where I differ from most is my dislike for KF premium. Of the multiple crimes that Mr. Mallya has supposedly committed, I’d call creating KF premium one of the top three.

Budweiser is the gold standard in lager beer for me. It is a truly sessionable and value-for-money brand that doesn’t turn your head into a nuclear testing ground the next morning.

If you’ve moved on to craft beer brands, Simba is what BIRA used to be when the latter launched in India. Haven’t gone wrong with it yet, so will slot it in the “highly suggested” category.

So there’s your list of what-to-start with when setting up a home bar.

One notable miss here is all wine variants. Honestly, given India’s climate and transportation infrastructure and storage sense, I don’t know if any wine would manage staying palatable. But if you insist on it, Grover Zampa and Jacob’s Creek are decent brands.

Variants? That’s a whole new post.