How to Turn Your Kitchen Island into a Home Bar

The island may just be one of the most versatile spots in your kitchen. In fact, it can even be the perfect spot for a home bar—whether you’re hosting a party, having a few friends over, or playing bartender for a romantic night in for two. Now that you have a bar, here are simple, budget-friendly ingredients and appliances to make great drinks from the comfort of your own home.
Stocking the bar
Stocking a home bar can seem intimidating, especially if you’re starting from scratch. But don’t get overwhelmed. You don’t need to buy a bunch of different spirits to have a well-stocked bar. It’s best to keep things simple by choosing ones that can be used for multiple drinks. Don’t feel like you have to buy the most expensive bottle either. Here are five spirits mixologists recommend for starters:
·  Gin
·  Vodka (non-flavored)
·  Tequila (100% agave)
·  Bourbon
·  Rum
Saving on mixers and garnishes
Mixers and garnishes can make a drink extra special, but you don’t need to spend a fortune on them. Most are perishable, so don’t buy large quantities of them unless you’re hosting a large party. Here are a few simple ways to save on mixers and garnishes:
·  Make your own simple syrup. All it takes is equal parts sugar and water heated together.
·  Choose mixed drinks that highlight seasonal fruit which tends to be less expensive.
·  Expert tip: buy small bottles of Vermouth because it loses flavor quickly.
·  Grow your own fresh herbs, like mint, for muddling in mixed drinks.
·  If you’re hosting a larger party buy mixers, like cola and club soda, in bigger bottles, which are more cost effective than cans.
Tools for tending
You don’t need to go buy a bunch of fancy tools to make a great drink. In fact, most of the tools you’ll need you probably already have around the kitchen.
·  Blender. It’s great for whipping up large quantities of mixed drinks or making frozen drinks like strawberry daiquiris.  
·  Pitcher. Great for serving mixed drinks, like margaritas, to a large party.
·  Ice bucket. If you don’t have one, use a decorative bowl instead.
·  Stirrer spoon. A regular spoon works just fine.
·  Shaker. If you’re making drinks for two or a smaller crowd, a shaker is a good tool to have on hand.
·  Cocktail napkins
·  Glasses. Double old-fashioned glasses and highball glasses work well for multiple drinks.
·  Jigger. If you don’t have one—use a small measuring cup!
Setting up the “bar”
Now that you have your ingredients and tools, it’s time to set up the bar! Display the spirits, liquors and mixers in a nice tray or set up a little menu board on the island so guests know what’s available. Display garnishes in a divided tray or in pretty bowls. Store extra glasses, tools, napkins and mixers (that don’t need refrigeration) in the island’s drawers and cabinets for easy access. Happy bartending!
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