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How to Build 5 Cocktail-Themed Home Bars on a $100 Budget

Bar expert Dave Stolte organizes five drink-focused home bars without breaking $100.

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A Gin & Tonic from Boulud Sud in New York.
A Gin & Tonic from Boulud Sud in New York.
Nick Solares

Hosting cocktail hour at home is back. And everyone's buying the drink books, stocking up on small-batch booze, and collecting vintage barware to emulate their favorite bars. But such dedication can break the bank, something that newbie home bartenders might not be ready to do just yet.

Fortunately for those who just want to build a home bar that's a step up from the dorm room setup, there are plenty of affordable options. And Eater sought out the expertise of Dave Stolte, author of Home Bar Basics (and Not-So-Basics), for advice on how to build a home bar under $100. Stolte's Spirited Awards-nominated book and website teach home bartenders key classic cocktail recipes, and explain which bar tools are indispensable. As for the best bottles with which to begin, rather than suggesting a mix of bargain spirits, Stolte recommends picking a favorite drink and stocking up for that.

On the subject of barware, there's really no need to blow your budget at Cocktail Kingdom. Save that splurge for later. Instead, stock up at IKEA, rummage estate sales and thrift stores, or follow these bar hacks with everyday kitchen tools. However, the only tool that can't be MacGyvered according to Stolte is a set of good, weighted tins for shaking drinks. Those are $17 at Cocktail Kingdom.

• Splurge: Japanese mixing glasses
Hack: Pint glass

• Splurge: Jiggers
Hack: Measuring cups (1 ounce = 1/8 cup, 2 ounces = 1/4 cup, etc.)

• Splurge: Barspoon
Hack: Chopstick

• Splurge: Julep strainer
Hack: Tea strainer

• Splurge: Punch bowl
Hack: Large salad bowl or mixing bowl

Below, Stolte's five neophyte home bartender kits.

Whiskey BAR

For Old Fashioneds, Manhattans, and Whiskey Sours.

• Four Roses "Yellow Label" bourbon, $20
• Old Overholt rye, $19
• Cocchi Vermouth di Torino 375ml, $13
• Angostura bitters, $14
• Fabbri Amarena cherries (8.1 oz), $16
• White sugar and demerara sugar, $5
• Lemons and oranges, $5
Total $92

An Old Fashioned from The Raines Law Room in New York by Nick Solares.


For classic gin or vodka Martinis or James Bond's favorite, the Vesper.
• Death’s Door gin, $23
• Blue Ice vodka, $24
• Dolin dry vermouth, $16
• Lillet Blanc, $16
• Miracle Mile orange bitters, $18
• Lemons, $2
Total $99

A Martini from Three Clubs in Los Angeles by Caroline Pardilla.


For warm weather drinks like a Daiquiri, Mojito, and Margarita.

• Cimarron tequila, $16
• Demerara El Dorado 3 Year Aged rum, $14
• Appleton Estate V-X Jamaican rum, $20
• Cointreau, $30
• Soda water, $6
• White sugar, $2
• Limes, $5
• Mint, $2.50
Total $95.50

A Daiquiri from The Happiest Hour in New York by Nick Solares.


Get exotic with the Caipirinha and Pisco Sour.
• Novo Fogo cachaça, $34
• Campo de Encanto Pisco, $36
• Angostura bitters, $14
• White sugar, $2
• Lemons and limes, $5
• Eggs (dozen), $1.50
Total $92.50

A Pisco Sour variation from The Corner Door in Los Angeles by Caroline Pardilla.


Make the classic highballs Gin & Tonic or Vodka & Soda, Gin-Gin or Moscow Mule and the refreshing Tom Collins. For some variety and color use the rest of the budget on fresh produce like kumquats, rosemary, or lavender.
• Death’s Door gin, $23
• Blue Ice vodka, $24
• Fever Tree club soda , $7
• Fever Tree Indian tonic water, $14
• Reed's Extra Ginger Brew, $7
• Small Hand Foods Yeoman Tonic Syrup, $6
• White sugar, $2
• Lemons and limes, $5
• Mint, $2.50
Total $90.50

A Gin & Tonic from Dante in New York by Nick Solares.