Beyond The Bubbly: How to Stock Your Bar if You’re a Newlywed

By Madeleine Luckel
Photo: Courtesy of Williams Sonoma

Despite the fact that it is the year 2018, many wedding registries still include eight to twelve china teacups. And while a matching cup and saucer can look pretty adorable inside a glass cabinet, the time has come to realign your registry around more modern-day imbibing and entertaining needs.

Enter the bar car, and the wider world of bar accessories. “In terms of staple barware,” advises Tom Jolly, Beverage Manager at Gleneagles Hotel, Scotland, “you should choose glasses that you really like, and that suit the surroundings. Beyond that, you’re going to want the basics, including measuring cups and a Boston cocktail shaker.”

“The most important thing about a good drink at home or at a bar is the quality of the ingredients,” Jolly continues. “Therefore, investing in a good citrus juicer to create fresh juice will really make you look like a pro.”

However, for Jolly, at the end of the day, it’s all about the ice. “Using good ice will make or break a drink, so consider [registering] for large ice molds,” he says. “There’s nothing worse than making a drink with really diluted melting small ice cubes as it will leave the drink feeling completely flat and watery.” (For the more adventurous, try adding some fun and unconventional Disco Cubes.)

Tracy Jenkins, the food and beverage director of Nashville’s popular restaurant, Nicky’s Coal Fired, has a few more ideas of what your bar necessities should be. “I would recommend a 2/1 ounce jigger, one metal shaker tin set, one nice large mixing glass, a long bar spoon, and a large hawthorne strainer,” she says.

But as even the novice host knows, serving a beverage doesn’t stop once your drink is complete. “I have a collection of leather coasters on hand for my guests, so they don’t have to worry about making marks on the furniture,” says Melissa Stackhouse, the winemaker of Meiomi Wines. “I also always keep my bar cart stocked with white and red wine glasses, as well as an ice bucket.”

And while these types of items make great registry additions, Stackhouse has another (very affordable) idea. “Wine chilling wands are my absolute favorite and a bar cart-must,” she says. “They can chill a single glass of wine much faster than a refrigerator chills a bottle.”

Think you’re all set? Well, not exactly. Naturally, no bar cart would be complete at least a couple bottles of alcohol. And while we wouldn’t exactly recommend registering for a bottle of Grey Goose, your newlywed hosting regimen may require a quick jaunt down to your local BevMo.

“Make sure you have a healthy selection of your favorite things,” Jolly advises. “If you love a G&T make sure you always have a selection of gins, a decent tonic water, ice in the freezer and some lime wedges at the ready.”

“However,” Jolly continues, “to create a decent home bar you don’t need a huge amount of products or a huge budget. A decent bottle of vodka, gin, tequila, rum and scotch are a good base—with my recommendations being Ketel One, Tanqueray, Patron Silver, Bacardi and Monkey shoulder. This is going to give you the bases for a lot of drinks, including sours, margaritas, daiquiris, martinis, and old fashioneds.”

But that’s not all. “A good sweet vermouth is essential to have,” Jenkins adds. “The most popular is probably Carpano Antica, but there are some other great brands out there too, like Alessio and Mancino. You should also have one bitter apertif, like Campari and Aperol.”

For some people however, a great bar means a great range of wines. “No matter how much you think you know your friends, it’s often difficult to please everyone with a single bottle of wine,” Stackhouse says. “As you build your bar cart, it never hurts to make sure you have a bottle of red, white, and of course rosé, on hand to please all palates.” Now that sounds like a well-stocked, and party-ready, summer bar to us!