Reader question: What do I need to set up a home bar?

Reader Pthelo asks:

You said Bombay Sapphire is a bar essential. What else do I need to set up a bar?

I’d say that I’m an advanced beginner when it comes to a home bar setup. There are some crucial ingredients that I don’t have, and some secondary or tertiary items that I won’t do without.

I have a lot of the glassware, which is fun, if not functional–no pilsner glasses to my shame. I’ve pointed out my Boston shaker, which, for around $8 is something that I’d say you can’t be a mixologist without. You can serve beer and liquor, straight up or on the rocks, but if you can’t shake a good White Russian or decent Daiquiri, it’s not a proper bar in my book blog.

But the essence of the question is, “What booze do I need in my home bar?” I think it’s a great question, and I’m going to set up a section just for that. There will be tiers for beginning bars, intermediate bars, and why-don’t-I-just-open-up-a-real-bar? bars. When I write about certain ingredients in this main area, I’ll link to them in the bar essential area as well. Since I’m always an eager student, I think that this will be a great exercise for me, and I am hopeful that it will be helpful to any other enthusiastic amateur.