Originally Posted by Ambulance Chaser
This is a very personalized collection. I'm guessing that you drink most liquor straight rather than in cocktails. Are you looking for additions that will appeal to you or to guests? If it's the latter, I recommend the following: Sweet and dry vermouth (for martinis and manhattans) Cointreau/Combier (pretty much a staple in most sours) Silver rum (for dacquiris) Silver tequila (for margaritas) Maraschino liqueur (the creme de violette is looking lonely) A nice blended scotch (for lesser friends) Brandy/cognac (can't live w/o sidecars) Campari (acquired taste that I love) Regan's orange bitters (adds a nice punch to martinis)
These are great, AC. And since you love Campari, have you ever made a Lucien Gaudin? I use Lillet Blanc in place of dry vermouth, but either will do.
Originally Posted by Rambo
I'm actually hoping to be doing quite a number of cocktails. Note the Creme de Violette (Hi Huntsman!) so I can make Avations. I've also got to get Chartreuse and Maraschino Liquor so I can make a The Last Word. I was already planning on the Cointreau, JW Black, and Campari. Could definitely use recommendations on the rest of your list. I also need a few good tequilas (blanco, reposado, and anjejo) and any other things you (or anyone else) thinks I might have missed.
Originally Posted by Rambo
Just stopped by the liquor store and bought Maraschino liquor and Chartreuse. Shit that Chartreuse is expensive. Huntsman that Last Word better be a kick ass drink!
Good for you!! And yes, I agree that Chartreuse is rather expensive -- I use the green in so few drinks, too (I really should try to grow the list of cocktails I use it in -- just the LW, Songbird, and the Smoke'n'Chartreuse). The Maraschino, however, is far more versatile (and with some Lillet Blanc and that Hendrick's you can make my signature cocktail). I think the Last Word is one of the best cocktails that exist, though I'm not sure I felt that way the first time around. It's really complex -- and complex things are rarely love at first sip. The additions you plan are, I think, right on. Black is, to me, the best blended whisky, Cointreau is a critical part of any bar, and I couldn't live without Campari for my Negronis. My major suggestions would be to get a brandy/cognac, get both vermouths (and a bottle of Lillet Blanc) -- buy the vermouths in tiny $6 bottles unless you plan to drink a lot immediatly. My theory for total bar domination is to (generally) have three of each primary spirit (well, good mixer/premium, super-premium/sipping), add some mixers, a cordial or two, and go from there.That is a more complete bar than most bars, and tuly, for most spirits, two will do, and you only take a deeper dive into those spirits you enjoy the most. So I'll give at least three per category.
- Gin: I rarely take gin neat, so I'd have a well and mixer/premiums of two styles. Beefeater's is my well, Martin Miller / Plymouth as the London Dry, Hendrick's as your floral gin. Opt: Bombay Sapphire for G&T (Could also do Hayman's Old Tom for weird classic cocktails / neat sipping)
- Bourbon: My well is Woodford because it is both a wheat and rye bourbon, you have the Kirkland which is cool, my "good" is the Black Maple Hill limited (though your Eagle Rare, Blanton's or Rowan's Creek are all good options) and as a sipper, Pappy Van Winkle 20, Eagle Rare 17, or George T Stagg.
- Rye: Honestly, unless you love it, two ryes will do. Sazerac 6 is my go-to mixer rye -- it replaces Wild Turkey rye which is really quite decent also. Sazerac 18 or Michter's are great sippers.
- Scotch: Scotch is hard for me because that is my spirit of choice. For blended -- if I wanted to span the spectrum with a peated and an unpeated blended scotch I would have Cutty Sark and Johnnie Black. For Single Malts: Unpeated Highland would be Dalwhinnie (might also stretch it into Speyside and say Cragganmore), sherried Speyside would be Macallan 12 (or Balvenie Doublewood), and if I was easing into peat I'd say Highland Park 12, or if heavy into peat Lagavulin/Caol Ila.
- Irish: For St. Paddy's at least. Jamie's 12 is cheap and excellent.
- Tequila: This is the spirit I pretty much know nothing about -- the last spirit frontier for me. I use Tres Generacions as my mixing blanco. I defer to others. Pio, I know, reps Milagro a lot.
- Rum: Ah, you have Zaya. I don't have a lot of rum, really. Light and dark is enough for most purposes. For white, 10 Cane is fine, as is Cruzan or Appleton. Really not nuts about the light rums. Rhum Agricole could be used in place of any of them as well. I have a mixing grade dark rum -- usually Gosling's (your Meyer's serves well here) -- and a sipper, of which Zaya, Zacapa, Eldorado 15, or the better Appleton's could serve.
- Brandy/Cognac: People will laugh, but I use Christian Brothers as a mixer most of the time and find it to be just fine. Any VSOP (I usually like Courvoisier) or Pierre Ferrand Ambre is a great step up for sipping or mixing special cocktails. From there....sky's the limit. Ferrand's 1er Cru is a great Cognac, as is Tessaron Lot 53, or you could look to Armagnac, which I actually prefer to Cognac, I think
- Vodka: I have opinions about vodka that differ from mainstream cocktail culture, but I would be fine with three: Smirnoff Red for mixing (really, most anything will do), Chopin (potato) and Belvidere (rye) for neat.
- Mixers: Cointreau and Maraschino are essential, as are the Vermouths -- I use Vya for my standard sweet and dry vermouth (If unavail, M&R for sweet, Noilly-Pratt for dry). I, personally, also could not do without Lillet Blanc for the Corpse Reviver #2 alone (but others I can't remember, too). 2nd tier mixers are the two Chartreuses (green far more important than yellow), creme de cacao, Drambuie, Benedictine.
- Other Weird stuff: Calvados is nice to have -- Busnell Hors d'age is great. Any Grappa from Jacopo Poli. Grand Marnier for sweet-orangie-after-dinner sipping (not so much for cocktails). An Italian bitter amaro -- Averna is common, my favorite is Nonino (basically, a spirit that tastes for all the world like dirt). Some absinthe or anisett -- Kubler bleu absinthe or Pernod would be fine.
Wow, I feel this could be far better written, but it's been a long day. Basic idea: Get two of every spirit, then more of the spirit you like best. Have Cointreau, maraschino, the two vermouths (and Lillet Blanc!), Campari, and something else (Drambuie, Benedictine, Chartruese) at hand as mixers. Have something for after-dinenr (like Grand Marnier). Have two bitters -- one Angostura and one orange. Have fresh juices and quality tonic water (fever tree or q-tonic). Those alone put you ahead of 95%+ of the bars in the world. By the way, I've never heard of your creme de violette and am very curious about it. ~ H