The cocktail is an art form that peaked in the middle of the 20th century and has been in rapid decline since. As a young lad, I was schooled in the fine art of cocktailing by my father and grandfathers, I learned many valuable lessons that I plan to pass on. I also want to resurrect some of the old classics that vastly surpass the sugary & fruity concoctions made today with their simplicity, elegance and bold flavors. Most of the time I will focus on one drink, and to provide, at least in my opinion, the definitive recipe, but hope to expand to other related topics as I see fit. Please mix yourself a cocktail, read, drink, and enjoy!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

A Well Stocked Bar

I am often asked about where to start when it comes to stocking a bar. I had to put some serious thought into an answer since I have been slowly building up my collection of glassware, tools, liquors, mixers, etc. for the better part of two decades. Let’s start with the most important part, the booze.

At a minimum I would have a solid mid-to-high-end bottle of each of these fine spirits on hand. These six are the cornerstone of any well stocked bar. They make up the base of most mainstream drinks. Only a really pompous asshole would not be able to find a cocktail to their liking with this selection.
  • American Whiskey
  • Vodka
  • Gin
  • Scotch
  • Rum
  • Tequila
Moving on to mixers, flavoring agents and garnishes. This list is pretty extensive, but most of the items will last you for a very long time, with the exception of the fruit. Realistically, this list is the one that will probably grow as you explore different cocktails. This is a comprehensive list that will not only see you through most any cocktail party, but impress your guests as well.
  • Sweet Vermouth
  • Dry Vermouth
  • Angostura Bitters
  • Simple Syrup
  • Club Soda
  • Tonic
  • Ginger Ale
  • Coke
  • 7-Up
  • Lemons
  • Limes
  • Olives
  • Onions
  • Cherries
Glassware and tools round out this discussion and is the area with the most flexibility. In a pinch any glass will work and basic kitchen utensils will fill in for the tools. I will list them in the priority that I would acquire them but you could probably get by with whatever you have in your cupboards right now.
  • Old Fashioned Glasses
  • Cocktail Glasses
  • Tom Collins Classes
  • Various size Jiggers
  • Cocktail Shaker
  • Citrus Juicer
  • Muddler
  • Strainer
This is a good place to start and there is infinite room to grow in all three areas. But before you print this off and rush out and run up your amex card make a list of the five drinks you and your friends drink the most often. Make sure that everything you need to make them is on this list, particularly for your favorite drink. Also keep in mind I did not include any beer or wine on this list, but they are always good to have on hand as well.

Your bar will continue to grow and within a few years you will surely have an obscure bottle of something that sits in the back gathering dust just waiting for someone to use it. A good method for using these up and expanding your horizons is to use the bottle that has been pushed to the very back at least once a month. Pull out the bottle, see what it is and search this site or use another reference to find a recipe that uses it to try. Who knows you may find your next favorite drink!

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