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Home Bar Starter Advice Wanted

Ambulance Chaser

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I want to start a modest home bar for entertaining and would like some advice on what to get. Please name the type and brand of liquors I should look at. Let's say five "primary" liquors (e.g., gin, vodka, rum, etc.) that are in the $30-$40 bottle/range to start. Any advice on "secondary" liquors (e.g., vermouth) and accessories would be appreciated as well.
 

spertia

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For "secondary" bottles, I would highly recommend some triple sec (an orange liqueur, typically inexpensive, unless you substitute Cointreau or Grand Marnier) as well as Rose's Lime (sweetened lime juice). Both come in handy in a lot of drink recipes.
 

ken

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Get a CO2 tap. All you could have is Beam and Smirnoff, but if you've got a tap, you're legit.
 

ScottMan

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The "easy" (familiar) choices IMO are:

Smirnoff vodka
Bombay Sapphire gin
Bacardi Silver rum
Woodford Reserve bourbon
Cuervo Especial tequila

Secondary:
Canadian Club canadian whiskey
Jagermeister poison
??? Scotch
Flavored vodka for the ladies
Kahlua coffee liqueur
Bailey's Irish Cream
 

unpainted huffheinz

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Originally Posted by chorse123
Plymouth is a very nice all around gin. I also like Junipero.

Remember vermouth doesn't keep very long, maybe a month in the fridge. So buy small bottles.


Hendricks Gin is one of the best. Beefeater is more like the older stronger gins at 94 proof. Plymouth Navy is also around that proof too.

Vermouth can be used for cooking as well as cocktails.

My starter bar would be this (note I don't drink wiskey):

Hendricks Gin
Potato Vodka (Chopin etc)
Armagnac, Calvados or Cognac
Kirschwasser or other German schnapps
Lillet Blanc (in place of vermouth)
Angostura bitters
Ramazotti, Averna or similar Italian digestive
 

hi-val

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Esquire had an article on the best stuff for under $15 this month. All I remember was that their gin was Gordon's and their bourbon was Evan Williams. I stand by both of those.

I suggest having a whiskey/bourbon, vermouth, gin, rum, vodka and tequila. You can skimp on the last three on the list but the first two need a bit of attention and selection. Past that, have a bottle or two of something nice you can bring out; Tanqueray for a martini, Chartreuse or Ron Zacapa for an after-dinner drink. Aside from frattastic connotations, Jagermeister is worth having.

So much of this also depends on who your crowd will be. This makes the difference between getting a bottle of scotch or drambouie and a bottle of cointreau (i.e., old hunting club guys or girls drinking cosmos).

Have wine and champagne on hand too. I'd actually get a couple of bottles of champagne that you can open whenever you have some folks over and feel like celebrating. Champagne brings out the party in people and really makes an occasion feel festive.

Aside from the bottles of stuff to get, make sure you have good, appropriate glassware. Have enough bar towels. Get a corkscrew, jigger, shaker, etc. On the topic of the jigger, guests appreciate when you use a jigger to measure amounts so they know how much they're drinking when you hand them a cocktail.
 

Xericx

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Rum: Bacardi (I usually buy the Coconut rum to do rum and cokes, but I'm not really a fan of rum)

Tequila: Cazadores Blanco

Vodka: Ketel One

Whisky: Maker's Mark

Gin: Bombay Sapphire (not a gin fan, but this is what I usually get at a bar for a martini)
 

goodlife

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Basic high value liquor selection (These are just suggestions experiment with different brands to see what you like. There are a lot of high value spirits in this price range):
vodka-Chopin
gin-Hendricks
lt. rum-10 Cane
drk. rum-Sea Wynde
bourbon-Woodford
tequila-patron, don julio...

You may also want to keep 1.75 of cheaper stuff for drinks that use heavy mixers. For example: Svedka or Smirnoff for bloddy Mary's, Captain or Barcardi for run and Cokes, and maybe Seagrams Seven as a cheap whisky.

You really do not need a whole lot of liquors to get started making good classic cocktails.
-Vya sweet and extra dry vermouth (or Carpano for sweet vermouth if you can get it)
-something orange flavored (triple sec, grand marnier...)
-something anise (pernod, absinthe...)
-bitters (angonostora and orange to start)

Also do not skimp on your non alcoholic mixers:
-use fresh fruit juices whenever possible
-look for all natural/old fashioned sodas, tonics, and colas (fever tree, stirrings, Boylans...)
-if you can find Stirrings grenadine and sweet lime use them instead of Roses, there is a big differences in quality and the price is similar (they also make simple syrup and olive brine)

Once you have the basics you can begin to expand, particularly with different types of whisky, and various liquors.
 

spertia

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Originally Posted by goodlife
if you can find Stirrings grenadine and sweet lime use them instead of Roses, there is a big differences in quality and the price is similar (they also make simple syrup and olive brine)

That is interesting, I did not realize that anyone made packaged simple syrup. It's obviously easy to make from scratch at home, but I have found that it does not keep in the fridge for very long before going bad.

I'll have to keep an eye out for this brand, although I definitely have not encountered it locally.
 

hi-val

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Really? I make mine 2:1 sugar:water and the amount of sugar in it kills anything that would live in it. I've had mint simple syrup in the fridge for awhile now.

A lot of people are suggesting Hendricks for gin. I like it, but it's not exactly a classical gin. If you have people who like martinis, they might appreciate Tanqueray or Bombay instead. Now a bunch of people are going to post that they like Hendrick's martinis...

Another thing to have is a nice knowledge of older and classic cocktails. You can give people a fun experience if you make them a Sidecar or a Manhattan instead of the whiskey & coke they were going for at the beginning. A bar book of cocktails, with a few that you like bookmarked, would be a valuable asset.

You'll want Campari for Negronis.
 

goodlife

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Stirrings is also available (and competively priced) from their website if you can't get it locally.

There is also a packaged cane syrup I use as a simple syrup substitute. It is not Stirrings, and I can not recal the name at the moment.
 

otc

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Originally Posted by chorse123
Plymouth is a very nice all around gin. I also like Junipero.

Remember vermouth doesn't keep very long, maybe a month in the fridge. So buy small bottles.


Only a month? Can't it go any longer refrigerated (considering how long it seems to go on the shelves)?
 

princemarko

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Originally Posted by Ambulance Chaser
I want to start a modest home bar for entertaining and would like some advice on what to get. Please name the type and brand of liquors I should look at. Let's say five "primary" liquors (e.g., gin, vodka, rum, etc.) that are in the $30-$40 bottle/range to start. Any advice on "secondary" liquors (e.g., vermouth) and accessories would be appreciated as well.

Vodka - SNOW QUEEN VODKA. It's an absolute must.
 

IUtoSLU

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Gin: Junipero or Tanqueray

Vodka: Titos or Chopin

Bourbon: Basil Haydens or Buffalo Trace

Scotch: JW Black

Other whiskey: Crown Royal or Jack Daniels

All of this depends on your preferences. Personally, I carry 4 types of rye whiskey and no tequila. This is just my preference. I bet most people don't have rye and may not even know what rye is. Since I don't entertain extremely often, I buy what I mostly enjoy. Good luck and have fun!
 

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