First: Assemble Your Arsenal (But Don’t Go Overboard)

How you assemble your bar depends on two things: your wallet and your temperament. Got a lot of money and no restraint? Pick up every bottle here and go nuts. (Also: Let’s hang out.) But the other end of the spectrum—not much money, tons of restraint—isn’t all that bad, either. We call that collection the Core, because it’s those seven liquors that should be the base of your bar. Rye whiskey, gin, vodka, and rum give you a totally unassailable selection of drinks. Then you’ll need sweet and dry vermouth, for Manhattans and martinis; a bottle of bitters; and always, always fresh citrus. All that together? A hundred and fifty bucks.

From there, start growing—but be selective. Gosling’s rum (and a bottle of ginger beer) will help you quench your Dark ‘n’ Stormy craving. A good bourbon like Hillrock’s and any Islay scotch will satisfy the people in your life who like to drink things neat. Tequila and triple sec are necessary if you’re a margarita man—Ilegal mezcal and Dry Curaçao if you expect a lot from your margaritas. Most bar nerds will insist on Campari, but we think Gran Classico—a Swiss-made variation—makes for a better Negroni. Whether you want absinthe is up to you, but how are you supposed to rinse a Sazerac glass without it?

(Click here for a complete shopping list— and more on what to do with it)