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Organizing That Messed-Up Liquor Cabinet


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#1 Chris Amirault

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Posted 07 September 2008 - 06:08 PM

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That's my liquor cabinet. It's a mess: bottles four deep that I can't see; muddler, bitters, strainers, spoons, and glasses all in the way of each other.

I don't know how to organize the bottle shelf or the gadget shelf. How do you do it? Let's see 'em.
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#2 BittermensAG

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Posted 07 September 2008 - 06:28 PM

Try expandable stepped shelves...

http://www.bedbathan...13983119&RN=205
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#3 Dave the Cook

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Posted 07 September 2008 - 07:40 PM

Your lower shelf seems to be substantially shorter than your upper shelf. Is that right, Chris? Like, that Creole Shrubb isn't going anywhere.

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#4 slkinsey

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Posted 07 September 2008 - 09:41 PM

Ya call that a liquor cabinet?

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Seriously, though... I haven't found that there's much you can do unless you have something more custom-designed. My solution is to have one "working" cocktail spirits cabinet with maybe 50 bottles in it -- then keep any duplicate bottles in the tool cabinet, any "mostly for sipping" spirits like single malt scotch, absinthe, Red Hook Rye, etc. in the bottom of the china cabinet, and any vermouth-type things in the refrigerator. Other than that, I try to keep the gin together, all the pisco together, and that sort of thing. Not very good at that, as you can see... and the annoyance of some bottles being extra tall and skinny with others being extra short and fat screws up the "system" a bit.

One thing that I do find useful for home is that I put my "mixing kit" on a tray that I can slide out of the cabinet. This has my mixing tins, strainers, muddler, jiggers, bitters and that sort of thing. That way, when I'm ready to make drinks, I need only slide out the tray and put it on the countertop.
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#5 ShadowedOne

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Posted 07 September 2008 - 10:08 PM

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My Liquor "Cabinet" as of This Evening

Chris, I had a very similar problem about six months ago. Each time I needed a bottle I ended up having to remove about six others to get it. So my solution was to go with shelves from IKEA which are now in my dining room. This works well for me as my dining room is right next to my kitchen, so it's easy when it comes time to mix something up. Plus it freed up a shelf in my pantry, which is always welcome.

I sort the spirits by over arching type (gin, vodka, whiskey, rum, etc). Vermouth and syrups are kept in the refrigerator.

Edited by ShadowedOne, 08 September 2008 - 08:51 PM.


#6 Chris Amirault

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Posted 08 September 2008 - 04:09 AM

Thanks, Avery -- but those steps seem pretty shallow, not deep enough for a non-spice bottle. Are there larger ones that I've just not seen or found? Even ones like this seem too shallow for most of my bottles.

Your lower shelf seems to be substantially shorter than your upper shelf. Is that right, Chris? Like, that Creole Shrubb isn't going anywhere.

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Yes, that's right. And save for some space elsewhere (where like Sam I keep extras and stuff I don't use very often) what you see here is what I've got to work with. Unless I want to be mixing in the unfinished basement, I can't add a shelving unit.

I try to keep the gin together, all the pisco together, and that sort of thing.  Not very good at that, as you can see... and the annoyance of some bottles being extra tall and skinny with others being extra short and fat screws up the "system" a bit.


Yeah, that's about what happens with me: feeble attempts at a system that get screwed up by week's end.

One thing that I do find useful for home is that I put my "mixing kit" on a tray that I can slide out of the cabinet.  This has my mixing tins, strainers, muddler, jiggers, bitters and that sort of thing.  That way, when I'm ready to make drinks, I need only slide out the tray and put it on the countertop.

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That's a useful idea. I'm thinking I need to move those wine glasses....
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#7 slkinsey

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Posted 08 September 2008 - 05:05 AM

Yea, you gotta move the wine glasses. You could have booze there!


ShadowedOne has an interesting solution, but I think that only works if you want to have all your liquor bottles on permanent display and have the extra room for the shelving (neither of which is true for me).

I sort-of end up with a "quadrant" system. If it's a short stubby bottle, it's going to be on the lower shelf to the right and so on.
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#8 lperry

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Posted 08 September 2008 - 05:31 AM

Target has some great little lazy susans with rubberized surfaces. You can put a bunch of bottles on them and face them outwards, so that you can just turn them and grab what you want as it gets moved to the front. (Except for the inevitable bottle in the middle). I did this with my spices and vinegars and it worked great.

#9 Wild Bill Turkey

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Posted 08 September 2008 - 07:04 AM

I'm thinking I need to move those wine glasses....

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This has been a big problem for me, I'm a glassware geek. And I have a galley kitchen. Ceiling-mounted glass-racks have helped a lot, especially with the wine glasses which tend to be space-hogs. If you find the right style and are thoughtful with the placement, the overhead racks can add to the look of your place, too.

#10 ShadowedOne

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Posted 08 September 2008 - 07:36 AM

Another tip that has really worked well for me is to separate the ingredients from the tools. Since most of my mixing is done on my counter next to my sink all my tools are kept in the cupboard directly above that area or in the drawers directly below. This keeps everything at my fingers and allows for easy storage once everything is cleaned.

I like lperry's suggestion of a lazy susan but I caution you that when these become unbalanced (eg due to drinking some of your supplies) they don't turn particularly well. I think one would work great for lighter supplies though like bitters.

Another option would be to find a wine rack type of storage system where you could have all the bottles on their sides. This would maximize your space usage, but would make identifying each bottle more difficult.

#11 slkinsey

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Posted 08 September 2008 - 08:07 AM

I like lperry's suggestion of a lazy susan but I caution you that when these become unbalanced (eg due to drinking some of your supplies) they don't turn particularly well.  I think one would work great for lighter supplies though like bitters.

The problem with the lazy susan idea is that it creates incredibly inefficient use of space. I'm guessing you could fit at least 25% more liquor bottles into a cupboard without lazy susans. And, for most of us, that's the name of the game. I barely have enough room to cram in all the bottles I have in regular rotation, and that's not even accounting for the fact that I have at least ten bottles on my "need to buy" list -- some of which are real necessities (I'm out of Cuban-style white rum, for example).
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#12 JAZ

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Posted 08 September 2008 - 08:12 AM

I like lperry's suggestion of a lazy susan but I caution you that when these become unbalanced (eg due to drinking some of your supplies) they don't turn particularly well.  I think one would work great for lighter supplies though like bitters.

The problem with the lazy susan idea is that it creates incredibly inefficient use of space. I'm guessing you could fit at least 25% more liquor bottles into a cupboard without lazy susans. And, for most of us, that's the name of the game.

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Another consideration is height. A lazy susan will reduce the height of the bottles you can store. But I agree that one would be ideal for bitters.

#13 db_campbell

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Posted 08 September 2008 - 09:22 AM

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My Liquor "Cabinet" as of This Evening

Chris, I had a very similar problem about six months ago.  Each time I needed a bottle I ended up having to remove about six others to get it.  So my solution was to go with shelves from IKEA which are now in my dining room.  This works well for me as my dining room is right next to my kitchen, so it's easy when it comes time to mix something up.  Plus it freed up a shelf in my pantry, which is always welcome.

I sort the spirits by over arching type (gin, vodka, whiskey, rum, etc).  Vermouth and syrups are kept in the refrigerator.

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I seriously thought I was the only person on these boards to own a bottle of Leopold's .. ..

On topic, I guess my advice would be to not feel like you have to store every bottle in or near the kitchen (or, perhaps more accurately, there is no need to feel like you must consolidate your collection in a single area). Sure, you end up having to tote bottles around every time you want to mix something, but there's a certain comfort in looking about nearly every room of the house or apartment and spying alcohol. My bedroom drawer currently houses backup bottles as well as discontinued bottlings, bedroom bookcase has a shelf each for amari/liqueurs, 'well' spirits, and single malt scotch, hallway blanket/towel closet has a shelf each for rum, gin, bourbon, tequila/brandy, and Irish/Japanese/Blended Scotch/Rye whiskey, nightstand contains wine & mid-level brandy, cardboard box on the floor houses vodka, and my bedroom closet keeps the expensive items away from prying eyes. All vermouth, syrups and sodas I store in a mini-fridge. I guess I only really keep bitters, bar tools, and citrus in the kitchen itself.

Wish I had pics :sad:

#14 lperry

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Posted 08 September 2008 - 06:51 PM

I'm going to plug the lazy susans again, if not for a permanent solution, at least for a temporary fix. I used to have some cheapie ones that went off balance, but these new ones are fine full of glass jars filled with various levels of liquids. They add about a centimeter to the height of the bottles, so a couple of things don't fit in the cabinets, but most do. I agree that they do leave spaces between them. I'm not sure how much space I lose, and since figuring it out sounds like a geometry word problem in the making, and I'd rather not have unpleasant eighth grade flashbacks, I'll leave that to the math majors. I use that extra space in between the turntables to store the extra bottles of whatever might be running out or things that I don't use all that often. Because I knew it would be a while before I got a kitchen renovation, I was willing to sacrifice perfection for the convenience of getting to what I really needed quickly and easily. Plus, they are about five bucks each. So for $20 or so, you can at least find the Flor de Caña and get that daiquiri fix without moving thirty other things.

Has anyone else converted furniture that was supposed to be for another task? I've been thinking about another "armoire" like I bought for storing jars of preserves. Some of the ones that were manufactured to hold those huge TVs are spot on for liquor bottles if you insert a new shelf about half way up in the area where the TV was supposed to be, and even the solid wood ones can be had for very little cash now because of the conversion to flat screens. But then again there is the shelf depth issue. Is anyone making a cabinet with stair step shelves like they have in the backs of bars?

#15 Wild Bill Turkey

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Posted 08 September 2008 - 08:24 PM

Kegworks has a whole page of Bottle Shelves that could work.

#16 lperry

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Posted 09 September 2008 - 07:37 AM

Now I'm thinking that a TV armoire with a glassware rack in the top of the big cabinet and these steps on the bottom would work really nicely. Tools and other things like napkins could fit in the lower cabinets.

#17 Chris Amirault

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Posted 09 September 2008 - 08:38 AM

Kegworks has a whole page of Bottle Shelves that could work.

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Two problems there: my shelf is a 45/45/90 triangle, so those sorts of shelves wouldn't work for me. Also: holy cow, they are expensive!
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#18 lperry

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Posted 09 September 2008 - 10:29 AM

Two problems there: my shelf is a 45/45/90 triangle, so those sorts of shelves wouldn't work for me. Also: holy cow, they are expensive!

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Are you handy with woodworking tools? A series of stacked triangle shaped pieces with block supports could give you the same effect.

#19 plattetude

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Posted 09 September 2008 - 10:51 AM

This is somewhat timely. My wife and I just moved into spacious new digs, and as such, we've been planning some kind of furniture piece for liquor storage. Currently, pretty much the whole collection of bottles, sans equipment, glassware, and bitters (which have most of a dedicated kitchen cabinet), sits in a sizable built-in storage cabinet under a bay window, but on our "to-buy" list is some kind of bar cart or armoire or such.

About the only piece of furniture, short of an actual bar (which is just impractical for a bunch of reasons), that either of us has seen that would even remotely be viable for a decent booze collection (I'd put the bottle count in the 40-ish range right now) are these from Crate and Barrel. Anyone have any experience with these? They seem pretty roomy (the wine rack can be removed, I believe), and sit on casters, which is handy.

Any other furniture ideas, repurposed or not, are welcome!

Oh, and in terms of organizing, I like to line things up, best I can, by liquor type. For instance, the cabinet I've got now is set up arrayed from brown spirits (whiskies/whiskeys/whiskys, dark rums, brandies, etc) to transitional spirits (oude genevers, reposado tequilas, lighter rums) to white spirits (gins, blanco tequilas), then vermouths, then liqueurs. Makes it pretty easy to navigate, even in a less-than-ideal space.

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#20 Dave the Cook

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Posted 09 September 2008 - 10:55 AM

Two problems there: my shelf is a 45/45/90 triangle, so those sorts of shelves wouldn't work for me. Also: holy cow, they are expensive!

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Is it really a triangle? I'm not trying to be pedantic, but it looks more like a trapezoid. If that's right, how wide is that back wall?

Also, how far are these shelves from the floor?

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#21 Wild Bill Turkey

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Posted 09 September 2008 - 11:20 AM

these  from Crate and Barrel. 

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I'm amazed somebody thought that through and actually finished the back so you could roll it around and use it as a bar with the doors open. I doubt there's been a piece of furniture built with a finished back since the Hoover administration.

#22 Chris Amirault

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Posted 09 September 2008 - 01:08 PM

Are you handy with woodworking tools?  A series of stacked triangle shaped pieces with block supports could give you the same effect.

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Handy with power tools? Hell, I can barely discern rudimentary shapes. To wit:

Is it really a triangle? I'm not trying to be pedantic, but it looks more like a trapezoid.


See? Yes, it's a trapezoid.

If that's right, how wide is that back wall? Also, how far are these shelves from the floor?

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I'll have to go home and use the numbered stick thing to find out.
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#23 Kent Wang

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Posted 09 September 2008 - 01:56 PM

The best organization method: alphabetical.

Haha.

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I have a bar from Ikea. The photo is from last year, so now it's filled nearly to the brim. I organize the bottles into quadrants:

Top left: non-alcoholic (ginger brew, soda) and bitters
Bottom left: "top shelf" non-mixables like scotch, fine rums and cognacs. By putting all the valuable bottles into one area I can instruct my guests to leave this alone.
Top right: liqueurs
Bottom right: base liquors (plus Luxardo Maraschino, which is too tall for the top shelf)

The drawer has space for tools and the middle section has some space for glassware.

#24 Shamanjoe

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Posted 03 July 2009 - 06:01 PM

I've been meaning to build some shelves in my room with narrower shelves and taller spaces to accomodate my large collection, but I haven't gotten around to it yet. I plan to make them deep enough for one bottle, but long, so that I can fit at least 10-20 bottles per row. And they will have a steel cable halfway between each shelf to keep all the bottles from toppling over in case of an earthquake (I love living in California, I really do).
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#25 Snowy is dead

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Posted 03 July 2009 - 11:37 PM

Has anyone else converted furniture that was supposed to be for another task?  I've been thinking about another "armoire" like I bought for storing jars of preserves.

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I actually use my old bedroom armoire. Two drawers at the bottom hold soda siphons, shakers, tools, etc.

Two full, deep shelves in the upper portion hold many, many bottles. The problem now is that the shelf supports are strained, the doors don't close correctly and the armoire has a nice list to it...

It could be reinforced, but there is soo much stuff inside. It's like painting a room with all the furniture and pictures still there...

#26 weinoo

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Posted 04 July 2009 - 06:01 AM

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I'm just wondering what Kinsey is mixing with that Dolin, Herradura and WD-40?
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#27 TexasCocktailGeek

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Posted 24 April 2010 - 05:01 PM

(Hope it's okay to bump an old thread.)

A friend from out of state asked me to send pictures of my liquor collection, so I took a few shots, and I thought I'd share them here. I don't think my home bar/liquor "cabinet" is very well organized, but it suits our purposes.

We bought an Ikea shelving system to give us more storage space when we moved into our current apartment (galley kitchen, yuck). We now keep most of our plates, bowls, pots, pans, and specialized cooking equipment on the shelves, and my wife swears that we'll never go back to closed cabinets. I love the open shelving too.

We keep our champagne & wine glasses hanging upside down, and below the bowls and plates (not visible in the pics, sorry) are our cocktail glasses. Most of my bar equipment is in the sink at the moment, so it's not visible either.

in situ.jpg

Those horizontal bars that are holding our pans are actually Ikea towel racks that have been screwed into the shelving top.

As far as organization goes, it's mostly by height and ease of retrieval, rather than by spirit family or by name. My collection is small enough that I don't have much trouble finding what I need quickly. Here's what it looks like all laid out:

collection.jpg

I didn't include the multiple vermouth bottles in the fridge, the limoncello in the freezer, the leftover vodka from making the vermouth, or my eye-dropper bottles of absinthe, maraschino, etc.
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#28 Chris Amirault

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Posted 26 April 2010 - 07:24 AM

It's a blurry shot, but as I'm moving soon my days and nights of bottle clanking and fruitless searching are nearing an end:

Posted Image
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#29 bmdaniel

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Posted 26 April 2010 - 09:16 AM

It's a blurry shot, but as I'm moving soon my days and nights of bottle clanking and fruitless searching are nearing an end:

Posted Image


How tall is that upper shelf? I always find my biggest limitation in a shelf set-up is having enough space for the super tall bottles (Luxardo Maraschino, Corralejo Tequilas, etc.)

#30 vice

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Posted 26 April 2010 - 10:03 AM

The shelf height looks to be adjustable.
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