Whiskey Focus 101

2017-09-20 18.01.52 1608395548985146374_4831345287

So, are you trying to build your homebar and not sure where to start? Maybe you’re especially fond of whiskey. Rather than go out and buy one of every base spirit hoping you’ll eventually find the right “mixers” to pair them with, in my opinion there’s a better approach that will allow you to create cocktails you will enjoy much more with minimal purchases.


Here are my recommendations for the bare minimum bottles to start out your homebar with (and suggested affordable brands) to maximize your whiskey cocktail adventures, as well as start collecting a versatile set of bottles to create a variety of other classic cocktails as well. Make sure you start out by grabbing the basics listed in Bar Tools. And if you’re not big on whiskey, check out one of the alternate spirit focused starter kits from Home Bar Basics.


  • Bourbon

Bulleit, Eagle Rare, Larceny, Buffalo Trace

  • Rye

Rittenhouse 100, Old Overholt, Bulleit

An aromatic bitter cocktail “spice” to liven up and add complexity to many classics

  • Ice

Good ice is a must. It doesn’t have to be fancy, but please don’t use freezer burnt ice – it will kill your drink


  • Sweet Vermouth

Carpano Antica formula, Punt e Mes, Dolin


Classics to Make

  • Old Fashioned | bourbon, Angostura, sugar
  • Whiskey Sour | bourbon, lemon, sugar, (egg white)
  • Mint Julep | bourbon, mint, sugar
  • Brown Derby | bourbon, grapefruit, honey
  • Manhattan | rye, sweet vermouth, Angostura
  • Old Pal | rye, dry vermouth, Campari
  • Boulevardier | bourbon, Campari, sweet vermouth

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