With the recent resurgence of classic cocktail culture, some of us are willing to go to great lengths to re-create those long-hidden classics such as the Fancy Free, Tuxedo and The Aviation - drinks that have been rescued from the annals of time. Save for hosting a large cocktail party (another The Knack in itself), pouring a nice dram or two for a small, captive home audience should be a rather understated affair. It's your chance to boast, a little, about the consideration you've taken over your drinks selection. Even if your home bar consists of just a few bottles of old whiskey, get yourself some decent glasses and an ice mould. Save the good stuff for special occasions - there's no need to reach for the premium shelf for every sip. Use those really expensive bottles of aged whiskey, rum, tequila, brandy and so forth for those times. And as for the basics, there are many good spirits available these days that won't break the bank. Here are five steps to stocking a good home bar.
Making cocktails should be a time for decompression, self-reflection or flat-out courting. Take it easy. Be cool.
When it comes to liqueurs and wares, buy the good stuff - these items will last longer. I'm not talking diamond-cut crystal glasses, 35-year-old Scotches and antique shakers, although if you do, touché.
How to prepare a drink is a separate lesson altogether and knowing when to shake or stir is sure to impress. Get yourself a book, or a library. I'd recommend the following reads:
A must for every bartender, "cocktailian" or not. Recipes tend to lean towards the sweet side, but the ideas and methods described are second to none. There's a reason why Mr DeGroff is called "King of Cocktails": he knows his stuff. A great, hands-on work.
This is a seminal work on the state of modern drink making. Mr Regan makes it approachable and informative and very easy to reference.
A wonderful read from an amateur with lots of historical perspective and useful information on spirits by category.
Self-promotion, I know, but we have much to contribute to the home bartender, as well as a number of other DIY mixology topics, all delivered in a manner we hope you find humorous.