The 9-Bottle Bar: A Guide to the Small Yet Mighty Home Bar

updated May 2, 2019
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(Image credit: Roger Kamholz)

Brace yourself for the following: You can craft a dizzying array of cocktails from a surprisingly small number of spirits and mixers. It’s just a matter of owning the right bottles (that, and a little know-how).

Welcome to the 9-Bottle Bar, a column dedicated to helping you amass an efficient, versatile, reliable-in-a-pinch home bar, without spending a fortune and ending up saddled with ingredients you’ll seldom use.

(Image credit: Roger Kamholz)

Over the coming weeks, I’ll cover each of the nine recommended bottles in detail, offer some advice on which brands to consider stocking depending on your budget, and arm you with a solid repertoire of classic cocktail recipes that derive almost entirely from those nine bottles. (Here and there you’ll need additional ingredients like sugar and fresh-squeezed citrus juice. We’ll talk about those too.)

Here’s a peek at the line-up.

The 9-Bottle Bar

1. Rye Whiskey

2. London Dry Gin

3. Light Rum

4. Sweet Vermouth

5. Dry Vermouth

6. Maraschino Liqueur

7. Orange Liqueur

8. Aromatic Bitters

9. Orange Bitters

(Image credit: Roger Kamholz)

Stay tuned for future installments of the 9-Bottle Bar. Next week I’ll be diving right in with an introduction to the ultimate second-act spirit, rye whiskey. Before you know it, you’ll be slinging drinks like a pro.