13 tips for setting up the perfect bar at home from 'Bar Rescue' host Jon Taffer

13 tips for setting up the perfect bar at home from Jon Taffer (LIFESTYLE/HOME)
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13 tips for setting up the perfect bar at home from 'Bar Rescue' host Jon Taffer

6 Spirits You Need

According to Jon, there are 6 liquids that you have to have: vodka, scotch, gin, rum, tequila and a whiskey or bourbon. "If you want to add one more you can add cognac or Brandy, but that's not popular in very many home bars these days," he shared.

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Know How to Make a Margarita

Margaritas are the most popular mixed cocktail in America, according to Jon, so if there's one drink you should master, this is it. "What makes a great margarita is sweet and sour mix which is also used in daiquiris, sours and a multitude of drinks," Jon says. 

The cordial of a margarita is triple sec, so Jon believes every bar should be stocked with it (as well as Kahlúa and Baileys).

Image Credit: Getty

Stock Up on (the Right) Mixers

This is one area where a lot of hosts blow it. Jon shares that most home bars contain a mixer like orange juice, but none have one mixer that works in a number of drinks: sweet and sour mix. You can get it at most liquor stores, or even a supermarket, and it works in margaritas, sours, daiquiris and others.

Other mixers you should have on hand include tonic and soda. "If you have your 7-Up, your soda, your tonic and your ginger ale, you are good," Jon recommends. "I suggest you go to your liquor store and buy little cans, and put them behind your bar so they are there. Then you won’t be drinking them in your refrigerator when somebody comes over."

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Have Fun with Bitters

"Today you can have cherry bitters, sour bitters, apricot bitters -- there are all different things," says Jon.

Bitters are nice extras, but that they can't replace a couple other mainstays. Always keep grennadine and Rose's lime juice on hand.

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Reach for Flavored Vodkas

"Flavored vodkas are a blast," Jon explains. "Puffed marshmallow vodka, wedding cake vodka, fruit loop vodka, vanilla vodka, strawberry vodka — they are really fun."

Jon recommends adding coconut vodka to some pineapple juice for a simple and delicious drink.

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Host a "smorgas bar"

"I believe that one of the best ways to have a party at home with a bar is to do what I can all 'smorgas bar,'" Jon explains. "Set up all the bottles, all the mixes, all the glasses and let your guests have fun. Let them all make their own drinks."

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Fresh fruit is critical -- but that's not all

Lemon, limes, cherries and orange slices are necessary for a working home bar, but it's also fun to have items like jelly beans, dried fruits and marshmallows.

"I'll take marshmallows, and I'll roast them and put them in a bowl, and people will drop them on top of cocktails."

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Spend $2 on Good Ice

"You don't take a great drink and put it in city-tasting ice. If you are going to have a party at home, go out and buy a bag of crystal clear ice. Don’t use the ice from your refrigerator," warns Jon. "It is cloudy and doesn’t have that crystal clarity to it."

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Buy the Right Glasses

According to Jon, the perfect ratio of a mixed drink is one part liquor to three parts mix.

"Filled with ice, the perfect glass is 8 to 10 ounces. When it is filled with ice, it'll hold four to five ounces, which will give you the right ratio drink."

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4 Tools to Keep at Your Bar

"Shaking drinks is a blast," says Jon. "You need a glass mixing cup, a metal mixing cup, a Hoffman strainer and a jigger, and you are good to go!"

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Avoid this Habit

"The biggest thing people do wrong: They don’t research anything. They just start pouring stuff into a glass," says Jon.

"Let's face it. If a drink is bad, it is really bad ... You wouldn't serve a bad steak, why would you serve a bad drink?"

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Use a Punch Bowl -- But Only Sometimes

"A punch bowl is great for when people first get there or during dessert." 

Jon recommends using it in addition to a full bar, not as a replacement.

Image Credit: Dsmoulton

Bring Out the Ice Cream

"Don't forget ice creams and sherbets at a bar," advises Jon.
"Let them put booze on top of their ice cream: a little Kahlua, a little Baileys. It is fun to infuse cordials into desserts."

Image Credit: Shutterstock


Jon Taffer, host of Spike TV's "Bar Rescue," knows a thing or two about setting up the perfect bar. He shared with us everything you need to know to have an amazing home bar (including what you should avoid at all costs).

"The question everyone should ask themselves before a party is 'What do I want my bar to be?'" he shares. First, decide if you want the bar to be the backdrop, or the main event. If you want it to be the main event, you should get fun garnishes and mixers, and make the bar the party.

Jon recommends picking a simple drink, and making it great. One thing he doesn't suggest? Shots. "I'm not a big believer in doing shots at home," he said. "Remember, people have to drive home. Make drinks that are fun, not strong. That's why I like using the juices, the sweet and sours and mixing ingredients and making it fun for people. If you make it fun, they won't just take shots of tequila."

Another thing to keep in mind is reminding guests that they shouldn't be driving home after a night of drinking at your party. "In the day of Uber, it is wonderful to be able to tell your guests to Uber home," he shared. "Let people know ahead of time that they don't have to drive home, so they can enjoy themselves."

Check out the slideshow above to discover Jon's 13 tips for setting up the perfect bar at home.

Related Video:
Home Bar Rescue Tips From Jon Taffer
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