how to stock a liquor cabinet

How to Stock Your Liquor Cabinet Like An Adult

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Have you ever wondered how to properly stock a liquor cabinet?

I’m gonna start this post with some real talk right away.

It’s time to ditch the Fireball and Jagermeister. Yes, and the Southern Comfort too.

Every liquor cabinet must go through a transition at some point – call it a rite of passage, if you like – from the haphazard cupboard of a college student, filled with whatever’s around that will get the job done of getting you drunk, to the more sophisticated cabinet of an adult, designated to house all the quality ingredients of the classic canon of cocktails.

There’s no shame in how things have been up until now. It totally makes sense that you would be used to just having a huge ass bottle of vodka hidden in the closet and a bunch of different mixers and chasers to pair it with, because it’s likely that when you started drinking alcohol, you didn’t like alcohol.

I know I didn’t. It was just a means to an end, and the better my mixer was at masking the taste, the happier I was.

But things are different now. I actually enjoy the taste of alcohol, whether it’s flavor featured in a cocktail or just drinking some liquor neat.

We all have to go through this transition at some point. It’s a lot like wearing sweatpants and a semi-clean t-shirt to college classes every day, and then at some point realizing your wardrobe could use a bit of an adult upgrade. No shame. Just an upgrade that you’re ready for.

But how do I make this change? What do adults keep in their liquor cabinet, anyway?

I’m writing this post today to give you an idea of the types of things you should keep on hand by looking at the ingredients of some of the most popular cocktails.

That way, you’ll be prepared to make a few different kinds of drinks for guests or for yourself at the end of a long day. (Yes, you can pretend you’re Don Draper when you make them. I do. If I’m being REALLY honest, that’s the true motivation behind this post – how to make myself and my life more like Don Draper. Sigh…)

How to stock a liquor cabinet like an adult:

Below are the recipes for some of the most common, classic cocktails, from which you can derive the ingredients you need to stock your bar like the classy adult you are now 🙂

By the end of this post, you’ll have no doubt about how to stock a liquor cabinet, and you’ll even know how to make a few new cocktails!

Don’t want to do the work of extracting ingredients from these recipes? I already did it for you! Download my free shopping list! Boom. You’re good to go.

1. Margarita (on the rocks)

♥ 2 oz tequila

♥ 1 oz lime juice

♥ 1 oz Cointreau

2. Gin and tonic

♥ Gin

♥ Tonic water

♥ Lime

3. Old fashioned

♥ 2 oz whiskey

♥ Water

♥ Sugar

♥ Angostura bitters

♥ Orange peel

4. Cuba Libre

♥ Rum

♥ Coke

♥ Lime

5. Paloma

♥ 2 oz tequila

♥ ½ oz lime juice

♥ Citrus soda

6. Mint Julep

♥ 2 oz bourbon

♥ 1/4 oz simple syrup

♥ 8 mint leaves

♥ 3 drops bitters

7. Moscow Mule

♥ 2 oz vodka

♥ 3 oz ginger beer

♥ 1 oz lime juice

8. Mojito

♥ 2 oz white rum

♥ ½ oz simple syrup

♥ ¾ oz lime juice

♥ Club soda

♥ 3 mint leaves, mint sprig

9. Martini

♥ 1.5 oz vodka

♥ 1 oz dry sweet vermouth

♥ olives

10. Mai Tai

♥ 1 oz light rum

♥ ½ oz lime juice

♥ ½ oz orange curacao, cointreau, or triple sec

♥ ½ oz orgeat syrup

♥ 1 oz dark rum

11. Negroni

♥ 1 oz Gin

♥ 1 oz Campari

♥ 1 oz sweet vermouth

12. Whiskey Sour

♥ 2 oz bourbon

♥ 3 oz lemon juice

♥ ¾ oz simple syrup

♥ 1/2 egg white

13. Daquiri

♥ 2 oz white rum

♥ 1 oz lime juice

♥ ¾ oz demerara syrup

♥ Lime peel

14. Lemon Drop

♥ 2 oz vodka

♥ 1/2 oz cointreau, curacao, or triple sec

♥ 1 oz lemon juice

♥ 1 oz simple syrup

♥ sugar (for the rim)

15. Greyhound

♥ 2 oz vodka

♥ 4 oz grapefruit juice

♥ grapefruit wedge to garnish

A note about all these ingredients…

Obviously, if you were to buy all of these items at once, it would be pretty expensive. The upside to having so many options, however, is that everything will last you quite a while because you won’t just be drinking from the same bottle every time.

It’s up to you whether you want to buy everything in one fell swoop and then not have to shop for alcohol for a long time, or if you want to buy the ingredients for one or a few cocktails at a time.  Either way, my shopping list will make it easy! (Click the button below to get it!)

I got the recipes in this post from, except for the Mai Tai recipe, which is Trader Vic’s original 1944 recipe that I got from a local tour in Oakland.

Now you know how to stock a liquor cabinet. It’s up to you if you want to take up smoking inside and brooding around in a suit.

Feeling pumped and very sophisticated? Are you excited to have guests over now that you know how to serve them nice drinks? Check out my post, How to Prepare for Entertaining Guests.


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Hey there! I'm Megan.

Hey there! I'm Megan.

I believe in cultivating a happy life with intention, using one small building block at a time.

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