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sml311

Essential/Versatile Mixers

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So I'm 24 with limited budgetary and space constrains (one bedroom apartment) and would like to keep some versatile mixers and liqueurs as well as a few surprises (non-traditionals possibly?) on hand to make cocktails for guests. I always have a supply of the "major liquors"--vodka, gin, rum, tequila, bourbon and wiskey--and generally two of each type--different age, flavor, quality, etc. But many times I'm unsure of what to keep around in order to do something fun for my guests.

Thanks in advance!

SML


Edited by sml311 (log)

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Hi there: Good question. Let's see where this goes:

Triple sec, preferably Cointreau. You'll need this for Margaritas, Sidecars, Cosmos, etc. Perhaps you'll want Grand Marnier as well, but remember that GM is sweeter than Cointreau when you're mixing drinks.

Amaretto--preferably Disarrono--comes in handy frequently.

Pernod or Ricard or Herbsaint or Absente--you should have some sort of absinthe substitute for Sazeracs, and/or to accent all sorts of drinks. Use it sparingly.

Irish Cream (the new Bushmills bottling is great). So popular with almost everyone--even "he-men" types.

Campari. Low alcohol, big flavors.

Benedictine come in very handy at times.

Creme de Cacao and Creme de Menthe. If you have little space, get the white bottlings of both of these, and get the dark cacao before bothering with green creme de menthe.

Kahlua is always good to have around.

Peach schnapps

Maraschino comes in handy, too.

I've probably listed too many items for your bar, so think about what flavors you and your friends gravitate towards, and choose accordingly.

Robert: What have I forgotten?

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Well... for one thing you left off Vermouth! :-> as well as chartreuse, and perhaps Pimms.

However, my recommendation for "stocking the bar" is slightly different then simply building up a shopping list. While I love all of the ingredients that Gary has on his list, something like Pernod, Campari, Chartreuse, or Benedictine might just gather dust on some folks shelves (not on mine!).

What I recommend to folks is that they "stock their bar" the same way I did when I was first teaching myself about cocktails.

Find "A" recipe that you want to try. Buy the ingredients that you need for just that recipe, and then for the next week make yourself one of those drinks each night.

The next week, find another recipe, shop for that one. And so on, and so on...

This does several things. First off, in about a year, you will have an -amazing- selection of items in your bar, and secondly, you will know how to youse -every- single one of them.

The big question of course is what cocktails to use. You could start with a great cocktail recipe book (Gary's "Joy Of Mixology" comes to mind!) and randomly select recipes from that... it would be important to use a book that isn't trying to list "every recipe known to man", but instead is focusing on a smaller subset of recipes that the author thinks are actually worth having.

Another recommendation for a more "automated" method would be to go to "http://www.CocktailTime.com", on a weekly basis, they rotate through a small selection of -great- cocktail recipes. Although sometimes they do recipes which use ingredients which are hard, if not impossible, to find (Amer Picon for one).

Another website that does a different drink on just about a week basis is over at http://www.Esquire.com Just look for "Dave Wondrich's Semi-Regular Cocktail Column" (unfortunately I can't put a direct link to it here since it's one of those "popup window" type of things.) One problem with David's column, is that unlike CocktailTime (which hasn't done a "new" cocktail in several years), David is always adding new drinks, which means he's already covered all of the "standards" and is now getting more essoteric, as well as using hard to find ingredients (The current one uses Van Der Hum).

A great solution to this problem is that David recently wrote a book "Esquire Drinks", in which he covers 250 "classic" drinks with great recipes and great writeups.

Ok... enough out of me on this subject, this is after all Gary and Mardee's forum.

-Robert

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Great advice, Robert. But do you really think vermouth is necessary? :biggrin: I considered adding Chartreuse but then thought that, for SML's needs at least, the Benedictine would be the herbal liqueur of choice. Pimms never occured to me, but it is a handy bottle to have around.

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Thank you both for the info and advice. I think I may use a combination of your suggestions. For example I already have Cointreau, as I'm a huge Margarita fan (Gary--excited to try your revamp in a previous response!) and have a good recipe for Cointreau pancakes, so I may try building and finding drinks around that at the sites Robert suggested, then move on to another liqueur. Mastering a few drinks using each sounds like a fun way to spend my weekends :biggrin: !

The worst part of living in North Carolina is that all the liquor stores are ABC, so they tend to stock the same liquors and it's hard to find esoteric ingredients. I tend bring back a bottle (or two!) when I travel or have friends bring some when they visit from out of state if I want something ABC doesn't carry.

SML

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Triple sec, preferably Cointreau. You'll need this for Margaritas, Sidecars, Cosmos, etc. Perhaps you'll want Grand Marnier as well, but remember that GM is sweeter than Cointreau when you're mixing drinks.

Do you have any suggestions for other brands of triple sec? I mean, I love Cointreau, but it seems like the price is rising faster than that of gasoline (is it possible to buy Cointreau futures? I wonder. . . ). I've used Marie Brizzard with pretty good results, but it's not easy to find.

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This can be hard to find, but look for Van Gogh O'Magifique triple sec. NOT Van Gogh Magnifique. Look at the proof on the bottle--the O'M is 40% abv. Very good product.

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