Haha, thanks guys.
perspective, yeah, the knob is hardly illustrous, but I try to keep the short bottles in the front when there are actually some short bottles (not common with, say, Scotch). The Pappy has company from WL Weller, Stagg, Eagle Rare 17, a pair of A.H. Hirsch 16s, a Parker Anniversary, as well as some other friends. The question of what to put out front is always tough -- my Rittenhouse 25, for instance, is stuck in the back in its beautiful wooden box just to avoid blocking other stuff (plus I reach for it much less often than, say, Sazerac 6).
Nickels, yes, its my house bar. It IS a hobby after all.
Hunts, what would you say is the ratio of base spirits to flavoring stuff in your bar?
What is your deepest category?
I think I remember you saying that Tequila was the one you knew least about, so I'll assume that's your most shallow category.
I'd love to have a bar from which you can actually make a variety of drinks. Its just so expensive... each liqueur ranges from $20-35, and then the actual spirits are the same if not more.
K, the bar is skewed massively toward the base spirits, because I started drinking them long, long before I got into cocktails and because I still really enjoy spirits neat. The ratio to modifiers must be like 15:1 or 20:1.
My deepest category is Scotch and Irish whiskys: I think I am at nearly 50 malts and ten or so blended whiskies, followed by bourbon, cognac/armagnac, rum, gin, vodka, then rye. Tequila is at the low end of the totem pole but is my newest spirits frontier. I have a grand total of two Mezcals and two Tequilas -- and one of each is rotgut. But the Del Maguey Chicichicapa I had not long ago was such an awesome, awesome experience that I'm sure that collection will be growing soon.
There really are not that many essential flavoring liqueurs or modifiers unless you go and read the PDT Cocktail Book or something. Cointreau is the most critical, but after that, Maraschino, Green Chartreuse, an Absinthe, Benedictine, Campari, a Creme de Cacao, St. Germain, and Creme de Violette, will cover a HUGE amount of ground -- over 75% of the cocktails I make require no more than these.
It is, as you say, fairly expensive to build a bar to be able to make a wide variety of drinks, but the truth is, as long as you have good examples of each of the primary spirits and a decent selection of modifiers, you can do a huge variety of serious cocktails. Yes, it is nice to, say, pick which of ten gins for a particular cocktail is best, but truth be told, Beefeater is still sufficient 90% of the time. I started out with the notion of getting one 'well' spirit for each of the eight primary spirits classes, adding the modifiers as I went along, as well as premium spirits in classes that I really liked. If you figured $30/bottle for the eight primary spirits, that's like $240 (though some are cheaper), and the same for the nine modifiers about, that is $270, for a total of $510 or so for 17 bottles with which you can make a stunning array of cocktails (if a few vermouths are added in).