Who doesn’t dream of one day having a bar right in their own home? Hell, a lot of you have probably achieved some semblance of that dream. It’s far from impossible. All you need is space, money, and time to see the project through. And even if you can’t afford it right now, you can probably afford to slap together a decent liquor cabinet and turn your kitchen into an impromptu home bar.
But once the bar is complete, then what? You going to just keep your favorite brand of bourbon back there? Who would want to sit at that bar?
Part of having a home bar is being able to play bartender, and being a bartender means being able to fix more than a scotch and soda. So, if you are going to build a bar at home, or simply want to become a better entertainer, here are the 5 bottles every man’s liquor cabinet needs.
(This list is assuming you already have whisky, vodka, gin, tequila, rum, and brandy – you know, the good shit)
An essential component to any home bar, bitters are what unlock the flavors in many trademark cocktails. There are a few types of bitters, and they do have different tastes, but if you can only get one, stick with the granddaddy of bitters and pick up a bottle of Angostura. Used in an Old Fashioned, Manhattan, Sazerac, Dark ‘n Stormy, and many other classic cocktails.
Vermouth (Sweet and Dry)
This terrific fortified wine comes in two very different forms – one sweet and one dry. And they do two very different things and you’ll want both of them to flesh out your bar. Sweet vermouth is a key component in drinks like Manhattans, Negronis, and Rob Roys. It is also pretty damn good on its own, if you are into that kind of thing. Put a little soda in there, maybe an orange peel, and you got a pretty nice light cocktail.
Dry vermouth, on the other hand, is what keeps Martinis from being just a big glass of gin. Dry vermouth, while less versatile than its sweet brother, is just as important. Classic cocktails like the Gibson, Brooklyn, and Scofflaw all require a splash of dry vermouth. So best to keep a bottle handy.
The orange liqueur that gives flavor to so many of your girlfriend’s favorite drinks, this bottle is a must have if you are expecting company. Sure, you might not be making a ton of Cosmopolitans when the boys come over to watch the game, but trust me, it is a good thing to have on hand for those special occasions. Plus, it is a key ingredient in Margaritas, and who doesn’t love those on a hot day?
This bitter beauty has really come up recently. With the rise in popularity of it’s flagship cocktail, the Negroni, people around the country have been clamoring for a bottle of this stuff. And it isn’t just a one hit wonder either. With drinks like the Americano, Boulevardier, and Campari Spritz under it’s belt, this bottle has staying power.
Bailey’s (or Cream Liquor)
Last, but not least, we have the magnificent cream liqueur. Not only great on its own or in coffee, but mix it with some Jameson’s and drop it in a pint of Guinness, and you are off to the races! Also, makes a delicious cocktail known as the Slippery Nipple. As fun to drink as it is to say.
And there are a lot of other great mixers out there for you to fool around with, but these 5 staples are a must have for any liquor cabinet or home bar.