Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Mixology and Home Bartending for Beginners: Stocking Your Home Bar

Knowing what to stock your bar with is easily the most intimidating task when it comes to the home mixologist.  The easiest way to know what to stock and what to pass on is by buying spirits and liqueurs that you know are in some of your favorite drinks.  For example if you really like dry gin martinis all you  need is a good gin and a dry vermouth.  But if you want a more expansive bar to accommodate more of a variety of drinks here is a basic list of spirits and liqueurs (and fortified wines for those that want to get technical) that will help you achieve this.

- Bourbon
- Blended Scotch
- Cognac or French Brandy
- Dark Rum
- Gin
- Reposado Tequila
- White Rum

Liqueurs & Fortified Wines
- Dry Vermouth
- Cointreau or Triple Sec
- Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur
- Sweet Vermouth

Just to note on some of the liquors above, I chose a reposado tequila because a blanco (or silver which is unaged)  is a bit to "fresh" or "green" tasting for certain cocktails.  Where as the aging of the reposado tends to have a more round and sweet flavor.  Don't mistake cherry brandy for a maraschino liqueur.  The Tripe sec should be atleast 35% abv and not overly sweet.  Also remember, vermouth is a wine and therefore should be treated like so.  Keep it in the fridge and if you have a vacuum sealer use it on your vermouths to keep it as fresh as possible.  Without a vacuum it should keep in the fridge for a couple month.  Also, putting it in a smaller bottle to reduce to ratio of air to vermouth with ensure it keeps for longer.  Lastly, stay away from bright fruity liquors, if you really want to add the flavor of watermelon, raspberry, apple etc. just wait till my next blog post on syrups and mixing where I will talk about making flavored syrups.

You'll find with these 11 bottles you can make nearly an endless list of drinks.  But, for those like me who are a bit OSD when it comes to their cocktails here is a more extensive list of additional products to keep in the cupboard.

- Absinthe
- American Rye Whiskey
- Blanco Tequila
- Cachaca
- Calvados
- Canadian Whisky (I recommend Forty Creek or Alberta Premium)
- Irish Whiskey
- Overproof Rum
- Pisco
- Single Malt Scotch
- Spiced Rum (I recommend Sailor Jerry's or Cruzan #9)
- Vodka

Liqueurs & Fortified Wines
- Aperol
- Amaretto
- Benedictine (Not B&B)
- Campari
- Chartreuse (Green and/or Yellow)
- Creme de Violette
- Creme de Cacao
- Fernet Branca
- Galliano
- Lillet Blanc (Fortified wine so care for it like you would a vermouth)
- Pimm's No. 1
- Port (Fortified Wine)
- Sherry (Fortified Wine)
- Strega

So there you have it.  I'm sure I could make an even more extensive list but that would defeat the purpose of this blog post, which is to make buying liquor easy without being overwhelmed with decisions.  If you feel that I missed an obvious liquor just comment and I'll be sure to make the correction.  If you need more information on a specific spirit/liqueur or need help deciding between brands fell free to ask.  You'll find within the category of gin, bourbon etc. every brand has their own flavor profile some better then others.  The next blog post in this mini-series will talk about bitters, juice, syrups, ice and other mixes.  Also look forward to June's Classic Cocktail of The Month.

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