1. Whiskey
    I personally find the smell of Rye and Scotch to be upsetting so I go for Bourbon or Irish Whiskey. Maker's Mark strikes a good balance of pleasant taste, nice bottle, and reasonable price. Or buy a cheaper one like Seagrams and put it in a decanter.
  2. Gin
    Even the best gin is disgusting on its own which is why no one drinks it on its own and I think most people don't really have a preference. I go with Bombay Sapphire because the bottle looks great and fancy.
  3. Sweet vermouth
    The red one. For negronis and Manhattans. Great way to make your bar look fancy for cheap - lots of big pretty French-looking bottles for under $10.
  4. Dry vermouth
    The white one. For martinis. Same buying guidelines as sweet.
  5. Vodka
    But keep it in the freezer, non-ice cold vodka is disgusting.
  6. Tequila
    Blanco/silver. George Clooney's brand Casamigos is really good! Not as obvious and like, cheesy as Patron but tastes somewhat similar and usually costs less.
  7. Campari
    IMO the only *essential* aperitif.
  8. One or two random items you probably won't use often
    But they'll make you look like you know what you're doing. Suggestions: Lillet Blanc, Aperol, Domaine De Canton, and if you like gross things, Fernet Branca.
  9. Not rum
    When was the last time anyone drank rum not on a Caribbean island, much less in someone's home. If your home is on a Caribbean island, that sounds very fun and thank you for the invitation.
  10. Put it all on a bar cart for maximum effect
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