Every week I post a recipe for a new cocktail. It’s easy for me to create these cocktails because I have a very well stocked bar. This week, I thought I would share what I always have on hand in my bar with you.
First, I always have wine and Champagne in the house, which is a must.
Gin and vodka are always on hand for a great Skylos Martini. I typically have a few gins in the bar, a classic and then also a flavored, such as Tanqueray Rangpur which has a lime flavor perfect for a gin and tonic. I also like to have a few flavored vodkas on hand such as citron for Mom’s Lemon Drop Martini and grapefruit vodka for many of my signature cocktails like the Spring Road Trip Cocktail.
Rum is next. I always have a large bottle of light rum for my Mojito Pitcher cocktail. Dark Rum is always good to have for in drinks like my Christmas Eggnog (recipe coming this Christmas) and I like to use dark/golden rum in baking; needless to say, I always have a bottle waiting and it doesn’t have to be expensive.
Tequila is a must in the bar; you cannot make my favorite Desert Margaritas without it. I prefer silver tequila — tequila in its truest form without any added additional flavoring.
There are so many variations of whiskey and I always have a few stocked in the bar. First, bourbon is always present and a good high quality brand is a must since drinking bourbon on the rocks is a perfect to enjoy this whiskey. I also use bourbon in my Mint Juleps as well as in my Cupid’s Arrow Cocktail and don’t forget my bourbon soaked Sticky Toffee Pudding! The next type of whiskey I like to keep on hand is Irish whiskey, which is used in my Irish Whiskey Mojito and Irish Whiskey Sour. Finally, scotch is the last form of whiskey to have on hand. I believe if you have one of these three whiskeys, you will still be able to make your guests happy.
Brandy is also a good liquor to have in your bar. I use brandy or cognac (Brandy’s fancy brother) in many cooking recipes to deglaze a pan and add extra flavor. At the Holidays, a good Hot Buttered Brandy is always a good option.
Liqueurs I have in my bar at all times are Amaretto (because I love the almond flavor, especially in my Espresso Amaretto Martini) and Cointreau or Triple Sec because they add an orange flavor to drinks and desserts. Chambord is raspberry flavored and a classic way to use this liqueur is to add a little to champagne — so tasty. Kahlua is a great after-dinner liqueur and so is Irish Cream. I have recipes for both of these coming soon. Limoncello is a great after dinner liqueur and so easy to make. Once again, my recipe is coming soon. There are so many other flavored liqueurs out there, but if you have these five or six on hand, you will be able to make a wide variety of cocktails.
I’d also stock vermouth. Sweet vermouth is needed in classic drinks like the Manhattan and dry vermouth is used in some martinis. Buy small bottles of these as they will not last forever. Of course, you can use dry vermouth when deglazing a pan in place of white wine.
Your bar extends into your kitchen where you should always have on hand a few lemons and limes for a wide variety of cocktails. Having other fruits on hand is good too, but lemon and lime will work for so many drinks. Simple syrup is needed in any well-stocked bar, but as long as you always have sugar in the house you can quickly make your own with equal parts sugar and water. Add fresh herbs like mint to make flavored simple syrup for drinks like the Mint Julep. Garnishes such as olives and maraschino cherries are always in my fridge, too.
Club soda and tonic are needed for a lot of different cocktails. I like to have a few bottles of each on hand and once again, I prefer the smaller bottles so that you don’t have a large bottle that will go flat before you use it up.
Ice is the key to a perfect cocktail to make sure it’s the right temperature, always make sure your ice maker is full and fresh — you don’t want to use old, foggy ice this will ruin your cocktail’s flavor. If you don’t have an ice maker ,buy bagged ice prior to a party so you don’t run out.
If you follow my tips for stocking your bar, you will be ready to throw a great cocktail party or entertain guests at any time. Look for my tips on bar equipment to have — coming soon!