In our house, there's this really neat cabinet in the hallway adjacent to the kitchen that people instinctively call “the bar.” It has that look, with deep mahogany-colored wood and shiny gold accents. Those mystical cupboards are intriguing to everyone who walks in, but for the longest time it was a huge letdown because I knew nothing about stocking a bar.

“So, what's in the bar?” people would ask. I'd see the flash of disappointment on their faces as I gleefully responded, “Wrapping paper and scissors! Who wants to craft?”

Stocking a bar in five steps including glasses, liquors, mixers, wine and one secret component that you absolutely can't skip

I've since learned about stocking a bar. We no longer have dissatisfied guests.

Stocking a Bar in Five Easy Steps

Stocking a bar in five steps including glasses, liquors, mixers, wine and one secret component that you absolutely can't skip

Mixers matter. When creating a home bar, you know that you're going to need some staples…like alcohol. However, there's a key component that most people forget about until you realize that your guest doesn't want rum on the rocks. We're working with Keurig and found that their fancy new Keurig Kold machines fit our needs perfectly. Fresh, bubbly soda in a flash! The pods are an awesome solution for people like myself who want it to be a really excellent experience when they do indulge. The machine also makes a good conversation point, which is important to consider when stocking a bar. Keep those guests chatting while you're mixing up their drinks!

Stocking a bar in five steps including glasses, liquors, mixers, wine and one secret component that you absolutely can't skip

Get glasses. The first time we had guests over there was plenty of alcohol on-hand, but I quickly realized that our home had a serious dearth of drinking equipment. My friends were treated to wine from souvenir mugs and sippy cups, which I cleverly called the “mom special.” They were good sports about it, but I later stocked up on highball glasses (for mixed drinks like rum and Coke), lowball glasses (for whiskey) and stemware. That's really all you need: a big glass, a little glass and a wine glass. The small ones will suffice for fancy stuff like margaritas, but eventually you'll want to pick up a triangular cocktail glass if you advance to cosmopolitans and martinis. And if your friends are serious party animals, you may need some shot glasses.

Pick any three liquors. When I'm stocking a bar I reach for whiskey, rum and gin. These old standbys can create a variety of drinks to keep a crowd happy. Vodka and tequila are also classic favorites. Make sure to grab some clear AND dark spirits so guests have options. Limiting it to three will help you perfect several drinks; you're not a bartender, so don't feel compelled to learn a lengthy list of cocktails. Serve your favorites. It adds your personality to the party!

Stocking a bar in five steps including glasses, liquors, mixers, wine and one secret component that you absolutely can't skip

Have wine. I think it's part of the fun to partake in every party's signature cocktail, but some people are lame and just don't do mixed drinks. It's nice to have wine on-hand for them. If you're not a wine connoisseur, simply grab a few white and red options in the mid-level price range. You can't go wrong.

Stocking a bar in five steps including glasses, liquors, mixers, wine and one secret component that you absolutely can't skip

Set the scene. A lot of people ask us what's in that bottom cabinet. That spot is where we keep comfort essentials for guests, which is important for encouraging folks to kick back and relax. Fire-starters help us get a bonfire going outside, a party component that's become something of a tradition for our family. We also have an air mattress in case people need to stay over after imbibing a little too much, and pillows and blankets for cozying up fireside.

There you have it. All the tips you need for stocking a bar, just in time for the upcoming holidays!

What are you favorite party-tried tricks for stocking a bar?