Bourbon preference is about as wide as the Grand Canyon, so having a diverse selection with various flavor profiles is good when stocking a home bar. An important detail to consider is the budget.
If you plan on serving more cocktails than neat pours, stick to the mid-range priced bourbons below.
- Wild Turkey 101: If you want something with a bit more kick, Wild Turkey 101 offers a higher proof and robust flavor. It’s excellent for cocktails like Old Fashioned and Manhattan. $24
- Maker’s Mark: Known for its sweet and approachable taste, Maker’s Mark is an excellent bourbon for beginners and a staple in many home bars. $26
- Woodford Reserve: A premium bourbon with a complex flavor profile, it’s a favorite for sipping neat or making classic cocktails like the Mint Julep. $30
- Four Roses Single Barrel: This single-barrel bourbon offers a range of flavor profiles, making it versatile for both sipping and mixing. $44
- Evan Williams Single Barrel: This is an affordable and well-regarded single-barrel bourbon with a smooth and rich character. $52
If slow sipping is your game, you want to invest in more complex bourbons. Typically, these bourbons are higher in price, but only sometimes. These five bourbons have the flavor profile to stand up to one cube of ice or neat.
- Buffalo Trace: This is a widely loved and reasonably priced bourbon with a balanced flavor profile. It’s an excellent choice for both sipping and mixing in cocktails. $26
- Elijah Craig Small Batch: This signature small-batch whiskey is known for its distinctive warm spice and subtle smoke notes. $34
- Michter’s US*1: This will appeal to bourbon drinkers who enjoy a flavorful pour without the burn or “in your face” characteristics of higher-proof bourbons.
- Old Forester 1920 Prohibition Style: This bourbon is inspired by the Prohibition era and is a bit higher in proof, providing a deep and rich flavor that’s perfect for cocktails like the Old Fashioned. $52
- Knob Creek: A high-proof bourbon with a robust and full-bodied taste, it’s excellent for those who enjoy bold bourbon in their cocktails. $62
Having some well-known bourbons or hard-to-find is good to give your bar some street cred.
- Blanton’s: If you’re looking for a more premium and collectible option, Blanton’s is highly sought after. It’s known for its rich, complex flavors and iconic bottle design.
- Weller Full-Proof: Bottled at the same 114 proof the spirit was when it entered into the barrel, this non-chill filtered wheated bourbon forgoes chill filtration to preserve all the naturally occurring residual oils and flavors that occur during the distillation and aging process.
- E.H. Taylor Small Batch: This batch has been aged inside century-old warehouses constructed by E.H. Taylor, Jr.Barrels are evaluated and selected to create a perfect blend of distinctive character that is like no other.
Remember, your bar will need other items as well.
- Mixers: Tonic water, soda water, ginger beer, cola, and fruit juices like orange, cranberry, grapefruit, and pineapple.
- Syrups: Simple syrup, grenadine, honey syrup, and agave nectar.
- Bitters: Angostura bitters, Peychaud’s bitters, and orange bitters.
- Garnishes: Citrus fruits such as lemons, limes, oranges, olives, cherries, and cocktail onions.
- Bar tools: Cocktail shaker, jigger, strainer, muddler, and bar spoon.
- Glassware: Cocktail glasses, highballs, rocks, and shot glasses.
- Ice: Cubes: crushed and shaved ice for various drinks.
Start with the basics and then build your perfect bourbon bar from there.
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