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Top Shelf
Focus up top, mind the details
Both easiest to access and most visible, the top shelf is the focus of the bar cart and should be filled with that most frequented: liquor. Stock the bar cart according to personal preference and taste. It’s okay not to hit all the pillars that make up a well-stocked industry bar, but you also don’t want to feel limited in creative potential when hosting guests. Don’t like vodka? That’s okay, but you might want to keep a small backup for those guests that might. It’s also not necessary to stock a $300 bottle of scotch at all times. But it is gratifying to know that there’s that special something for when the occasion merits a little something extra — not as a prize, but a celebration. Also, there simply is no better way to serve your spirits than out of a handsome decanter. Buy one (like this crystal and gold piece) for life.

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Scotch & Whisky


Highland Park 25 Year Old – More
Lagavulin 16 – More
Nikka Pure Malt 17 – More

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Bourbon


George T. Stagg – More
W.L Weller 12 Year – More
Willet Straight Rye – More

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Vodka & Gin


Plymouth Gin – More
Tanqueray Malacca Gin – More
Stoli Premium Vodka – More
Ketel One Vodka – More

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Tequila, Rum


1800 Milenio – More
Mount Gay Black Barrel Rum – More

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Champagne, Sake, Others


Veuve Clicquot – More
Beniotome Shochu – More
Letherbee Charred Oak Absinthe Brun – More

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Bottom Shelf
Your pantry, your barback
Unless you’re trying to be America’s next great bartender, you’re just a guy who likes good liquor, and good liquor doesn’t need a lot of jazzing up. But when it fits the tone, know the elements of the Old Fashioned, or that dry vermouth is for martinis and red vermouth is for Manhattans. Bottom shelves are also convenient storage spaces for optional alternatives in case your thirst leans elsewhere: a red wine or a few tasty lagers you can quickly pop in the fridge. Versatile non-alcoholic beverages — juices and imported sodas (with real sugar) — also do well as mixers or alternatives for those that don’t drink.

Grocery


Beer (e.g. Peroni, Coors Banquet, Craft)
Wine (More on Varietals, Regions)
Dry Vermouth (for Martinis)
Red Vermouth (for Manhattans)
Orange Liqueur
Cranberry Juice
Tomato Juice
Pineapple Juice
Ginger Beer
Tonic Water
Imported or Local Soda


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Tools
A man is only as good as his hammer
Bar carts double as work stations, which left unchecked have a tendency to clutter and overcrowd. For the most part, tools should carry a purpose and a function. A small paring knife will cover most bases, foregoing superfluous items like channel knives that rarely (if ever) get used. Another example: disposable chopsticks in lieu of tongs. But then maybe you have an unnecessarily heavy bottle opener shaped like a lobster claw from your last trip to the Cape. Fuck it — that’s cool.

Toolbox


Jigger – $8
Strainer – $12
Pairing Knife – $13
Cutting Board – $42
Ice Bucket – $9
Ice Tray – $14
Mixing Glass – $40
Muddler – $4
Wine and Bottle Opener – $8
Absinthe Spoon – $5

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Glass
Your best wares forward
Like your tools, the vessels on hand should complement the drinks you’ll likely be having. Don’t display champagne flutes if you don’t drink champagne. Buy glass modestly, because an accident will happen eventually; companies like CB2 make affordable but elegant. But then again, heirloom-grade cut crystal like these Waterford Crystal’s Double Old Fashioned and High Balls (you might recognize these from Mad Men) will feel substantial in the hand — a handsome vessel for your prized spirits.

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Wares


Old-Fashioned – $175
High-Ball – $175
Beer Glasses – $15
Champagne Flute – $20
Wine Glasses – $6
Julep Silver Plated Cup – $9
Shot Glasses – $1
Circon Decanter – $395
Libations Bar Cart – $599

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Provisions
Stay stocked and embrace imports
Some pantry items are for cocktails (onions, cherries, bitters). Others are for simple snacking (mixed nuts, maybe wasabi peas). Things like olives are found in both. When it comes to snacking, the saltier, the better. Live a little; you’re not eating a whole bag. (Unless it’s smokehouse almonds. Then you might.)

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Grocery


Aromatic Bitters (Angostura, Hella Bitters)
Orange Bittes (Regans No.6)
Sugar Cubes (La Perruche)
Maraschino Cherries – more
Nuts (Pistachios, Almonds)
Olives (La Espanola)
Salt (Jacobsen)
Citrus (Lemon, Lime, Grapefruit)
Mint
Gibson

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Finishing Touches
The Extra 10%
Details go a long way with bar carts. Finishing touches should accommodate and entertain both guests and yourself. Curate a mood or an activity with understated music or favorite magazines. Drinking by oneself is too often frowned upon — we disagree with that notion — but done with intent and reservation, a nightcap or evening libation can be a meditative process after a long day. Here’s to you, good sir. You deserve it.

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Details


Coasters – $125 (or Napkins)
Playing Cards – eBay
Magazines
Books
Records (vintage jazz, preferably your father’s)
Ashtray (lipstick stain at your discretion

Further Reading

Gluten-Free Beer Shootout
10 Canned Craft Beers To Drink Now
8 Best Saison Beers
Profile of Dogfish Head Minute IPAs
Donkey and Goat 2012 Lily’s Cuvée Chardonnay
A Visit to Highland Park Distillery
Touring the Home of Jameson Irish Whiskey
Waterford Crystal London Collection Glassware
Around the World in Seven Vodkas
15 Best Bourbons You Can Actually Buy
5 Best Japanese Whiskies
Mulled Wine, Three Ways
10 Canned Craft Beers To Drink Now
The Michelada Three Ways
Guide to Beer Glassware
Tasting the First Beer Aged in Jameson Barrels
The Tasting Notes Archives

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