7 Tips for Building Your Holiday Bar

What are tips for building your holiday bar?

  1. Think of your space
  2. Stick with what you know, at first
  3. Buy basic tools
  4. Know what mixers you need
  5. Stock up on citrus and garnishes
  6. Invest in glassware
  7. Wine and beer matter


Many casual drinkers don’t keep their home bars fully prepped all year — many don’t have a home bar at all. But with the holidays approaching, you may want to make one of your own, and stock up on a few things for the upcoming festivities. But where to start?

Before you spend your money on a bunch of things you won’t use, we’ve put together seven tips for a holiday bar to help you build your ideal alcoholic haven. And, hopefully, create a space to provide enjoyment not just for the holidays, but for all kinds of celebrations for the years to come.


Think of your space

How you build up your holiday bar largely depends on the space you have available. You also have to think about where you’ll need this bar the most. For example, if you plan on entertaining guests in your living room, then it would be best to place your holiday bar within arm’s reach.

Also, consider who will use it. For some, hosting friends and family is why they want a holiday bar. For others, they may want to enjoy their spirits and wines on their own or with a small group. For the former, you have to allocate more space to entertain bigger groups, so built-in bars or large bar carts may be ideal. For the latter, you may not need much, a simple cart or designated space on a counter could work just fine.


Stick with what you know, at first

Stick with what you know, at first

Don’t let yourself get carried away trying to stock up every shelf of your bar. You can always start slow and simple — stick with what you know, at least in the beginning. Pick out at least 3 or 4 bottles of spirits or wines that you know you enjoy a lot. From there, it’s easy to build up your collection over time. Plus, it’ll be easier to organize your holiday bar.

You can also try making a list of your favorite cocktails, and work from there. See if they have common ingredients amongst them. If they’re mostly whiskey, buy a bottle of that, and maybe pick up a solid bourbon as well — we recommend our Johnnie Walker and Jack Daniels. This will cover your old fashions, Manhattans, and the like.


Buy basic tools

You don’t need all the bells and whistles you see in your typical bar at once. But, you will want to have a couple of the basic bar tools to help you make your favorite cocktails at home:

  • Shaker, ideally one that is big enough to mix more than one cocktail at a time.
  • Bar spoon.
  • Knife with a serrated edge for cutting fruits.
  • Cutting board.
  • Glass bottles or jars to store syrups and juices.
  • Corkscrew or wine key.
  • Bottle opener.
  • A set of white towels to clean up.

If you’re planning to diversify your holiday bar, here are some tools you can purchase later:

  • Jigger.
  • Muddler.
  • Blender.
  • Electric corkscrew.
  • Bottle stoppers.
  • Citrus press.
  • Wine aerator.


Know what mixers you need

Know what mixers you need

You will need mixers — especially during a holiday celebration. Always keep some on hand for the cocktails you enjoy and know how to make well. Common mixers are tonics, sodas, cranberry juice, and cola. But again, there’s no point in getting them if you don’t normally enjoy or need them.

So, always keep in mind the cocktail recipes you like, and what basics are a must-have. And an important thing to note is that some mixers can expire quickly, so plan accordingly. But if you and your loved ones are not big fans of cocktails in general, you’re probably safe not keeping much on hand.


Stock up on citrus and garnishes

Citrus and garnishes play an important role in making your drinks — never underestimate their relationship. They are as basic to cocktails as the liquor itself. If you’re planning on making cocktails for yourself and your loved ones this holiday season, then it would be good to stock up.

Like with our tip on mixers, only get what you know you enjoy and need — there’s no need to get bunches of rosemary, oranges, and ginger if you’re not going to use it any time soon. And, don’t be afraid to store these ingredients in your fridge or freezer. Fruits and garnishes can stay good for months when uncut and kept cool, so you can reduce waste this way.


Invest in glassware

Invest in glassware

Another important thing to prepare for is your glassware. Without proper planning, it can take up space, and be more expensive than you realize, so going back to our main point — don’t buy what you know you won’t use! If you don’t like martinis, then you don’t have to buy martini glasses. Ask yourself what you know you will use frequently and start there.

Here is some basic glassware you will want to consider for your holiday bar:

  • Pint glasses — Used for beer. Can also be used for double mixed drinks.
  • Red wine glasses — You can also pour white wines into red wine glasses but not vice versa. We recommend getting some from Stölzle, with a bulbous body and wide mouth for proper aeration.
  • Lowball glasses — These are for single-shot and neat drinks.


Wine and beer matter

A proper holiday bar isn’t just about the hard liquor. If you’re planning on using your bar to entertain guests, then always have a couple of wines and beers in stock. They are a good option for those who aren’t into hard or mixed drinks. A red, a white, and a varietal like Rosé will cover all your bases. For beer, an easy-drinking lager like Corona is a safe choice to keep on hand.


Key Takeaway

Follow our tips for a holiday bar, and we’re sure you’ll be able to build a great one in your home. Don’t be afraid to start simple and expand as you go. The main goal here is to stock up on good alcohol and have all the essentials for your favorite cocktails at hand. 

Looking for bottles to fill up your bar? Ralph’s Wines & Spirits has the widest and finest selection in Metro Manila. Take a look at our Wines, Spirits, Beers, and more on our online shop, and have your bottles delivered straight to your doorstep!