Key to the Liquor Cabinet

Some people think “being prepared” means stockpiling bottled water and flashlight batteries under the bed. We vouch for a cabinet full of versatile booze, proper tools, and non-cheesy mixers. Who’s going to be more popular when natural disaster strikes?

Catastrophe aside, when you’re in the mood after work for a nice adult beverage, you don’t want to have to trek to the liquor store. If friends drop by unexpectedly, you’d like to be able to offer them several options for cocktails.

We’ve put together three different bar scenarios, which offer ascending levels of preparedness. We tell you what kinds of liquor, equipment, and mixers you’ll need to create a slate of great, classic cocktails. Except for limes, lemons, and ice, all of these things can be stashed in your cabinets until the need arises. We also recommend snacks, both plain and fancy, and other booze you should have on hand that doesn’t get mixed.

Note: We didn’t include ingredients to make tiki drinks or blender drinks, because in our experience a person typically drinks these only when on vacation in tropical climes. (If you love piña coladas, feel free to ignore us.) Nor did we include things like premade sour mix, margarita mix, or premixed “cocktails” in plastic bottles. All those can be made easily from scratch to produce much tastier drinks.

With the items in Level 1, you’ll be able to make everything from margaritas to Cosmos to Manhattans to mojitos.

You’ve got the basic repertoire down and are ready to accessorize. This level adds a few unexpected crowd pleasers: a kir royale champagne cocktail, a homemade Bloody Mary, a Negroni, a Sidecar, as well as some simple homemade bar snacks.

This is the ultimate pimped bar, with suggestions for more unusual liquors and mixers that top bar chefs around the country are using right now. You’ll be able to make cutting-edge drinks and obscure favorites.

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