My $100 Bar

barpicRecently I came across this post on LifeHacker with suggestions on how to stock your bar for just $100. I was intrigued & shared the link with some friends & followers on twitter. Wow—did that stir things up! Of course, considering many of my twitter followers spend the equivalent of a down payment on a mortgage on their own home bars, I’m not all that surprised that they took issue with the article.

I’ll admit there were a few things in there that threw me off too (for instance, it lists “sour mixes” as an essential for your home bar…yeah I don’t think so). But their whole idea of “essential liquors” (2 lights, 2 darks, & vermouth) is not all that bad, in my opinion, when you consider the crowd—a cocktail party for 15-20 friends. I think it’s a good start but I also feel the need to share my own version of a $100 bar.

Now, keep in mind I built this list with a cocktail party of 15-20 friends in mind. I don’t know about you, but not all my friends are Rye-sipping cocktailians with refined palates. Mostly they just want a well-made, simple drink that tastes good. I tried to offer some basic variety, so that everyone at the party would be able to enjoy something. Here it is:

My $100 Bar: (includes fruit & “mixers” though I assumed the bartender would be able to come up with simple syrup on their own—not too much to ask I hope).

Vodka (because people want to drink it): Sobieski for approx. $12

Gin: Beefeater (and you can believe me or not—I would have chosen this well before the brand was a client of mine): approx. $17

Rum: Sailor Jerry (*rumdood cringes*), moderately priced Spiced Rum that’s a step up from the “go-to” brand imho-approx. $17

Tequila: Gran Centenario Azul Tequila Reposado (phew! A mouthful!)—I think it mixes well in a Margarita, which is probably all I’m going to use it for in this case-approx. $16

Triple Sec: Essential! Hiram Walker for approx $8. Can’t beat it for the price, just ask: Lance Mayhew, Jacob Grier, Reese Lloyd, or Chris Null.

Limes & Lemons: (there’s your sour mix) $10

Cola, Fever Tree Tonic, & Cranberry Juice: (it will get asked for) $14

Angostura Bitters: $6

So, agree with me or not, this bar would do very well at almost any cocktail party I’ve been to (Tales of the Cocktail events not included). For only $100, I can make you a:

Vodka Tonic

Gin & Tonic

Cuba Libre


Vodka Cran

Pegu …..and probably more that just aren’t coming to mind

Now, that LifeHacker article goes on to make suggestions for larger parties—$100 bars for 30 people and then for 100+ people. It suggests a White Russian party for 30 people. I’m sorry, I love me some White Russian but I don’t think it’s the proper cocktail to plan a party around. Too sweet—too much of a dessert cocktail to be the only thing you’re serving. That’s like having people over for a dinner party and then only serving cheesecake.

If you find yourself with 30 thirsties and a budget to keep, I’d suggest a couple nice punches (with fresh fruit juice and fruit slices) or a few pitchers of Sangria.

And as far as a 100 person gathering—is this really necessary? At that point I’d say fix up the punch or Sangria and then tell everyone to BYOB! Unless of course it’s Spring Weekend at UConn and you’re throwing the most “wicked rager” the campus has ever seen—and you really want to impress the high school girls who’ve snuck in with your beer pong skills. Otherwise, I’d provide a few options and then let them pick their posion—and pay for it too—if they’re not pleased with what you have to offer.

So what do you think? Keeping in mind you’ve got to entertain a variety of friends here, how would you stock your bar with just $100?


Filed under bars

5 responses to “My $100 Bar

  1. Pretty good list, but knowing my pals (and myself), I’d probably replace the tequila with a whiskey–probably Jack or Beam.

    Really, knowing my pals, my list would probably go:

    coconut rum
    good beers
    tonic, cola, cran, pine apple juice, lemons & limes

  2. Sailor Jerry? Really? For about the same money you could have Appleton Estate V/X or Mount Gay Eclipse or even Cruzan Gold. None are spiced rums but they’re soooo much better than Sailor, in Cuba Libres and in so many other great cocktails.

    You can’t make a daiquiri with Sailor. You can’t make a decent rum & tonic with Sailor. It just isn’t as versatile. It’s a one-trick pony for rum & coke. C’mon Sam, upgrade today! Operators are standing by!

  3. cocktailculture

    Ok, Matt-you make a good point. I would like to be able to make a good daiquiri with this bar. What freebie will you throw in if I call in the next ten minutes? “But wait, there’s more…”

  4. If I had only had someone to give me a list of basics like this when I was 21… This post is awesome for both my budget conscious readers and cocktail newbies! You rock!

  5. Nick H

    First off, I take issue with the premise of the original article. I think a better approach for a party is just to offer 3 or 4 cocktails especially if you are also having wine and beer.

    Starting a home bar is a different proposition and one in which it makes more sense to cover as many bases as you can for short money. Here are my favorite budget bar starters:

    Old Overholt Rye, 750ml $11
    Gordon’s Gin, 750ml $11
    Brugal White Rum, 750ml $11
    Smirnoff Vodka, 750 ml, $11
    Mt Gay Eclipse Gold Rum, 750 ml $17
    Jim Beam Black Bourbon, 750ml, $18
    Martini & Rossi Red Vermouth, 375ml $4.50
    Angostura Bitters $6
    Spend the last $10.50 on lemons, limes, soda water, ginger beer, and mint.

    Now you can make quite a good number of drinks of which I would probably start with
    -tom collins
    -moscow mule
    -old fashioned
    -gin rickey
    -whiskey sour

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s