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Chris Amirault

The Ten-Bottle Start-up Home Cocktail Bar

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This game is way too hard with only 10 bottles!

First off, it seems like there are six bottles that are pretty much indispensible: Gin, Rye, Dry & Sweet Vermouth, Aromatic & Orange Bitters. That leaves 4 slots.

For a beginning bar, aimed at making classic drinks, you probably want to have: Cognac, White Rum, Maraschino and a Curacao. Though Absinthe and a herbal liqueur like Benedictine might be subbed in.

But hey, cocktails are American, right? And we measure our drinks in ounces, our distances in miles -- why use the decimal system to choose a number of bottles? Twelve is a much more noble number, divisible by 3 and 4. And liquor stores have boxes that hold twelve bottles (plus a couple bottles of bitters).

Personally, I would have to include Aged Rum and Cynar. I could live without White Rum, Curacao, Absinthe and Maraschino. If I get 12 give me Tequila and Arrack or Rhum Agricole. If we don't count the bitters, throw in Peychaud's, and I'd have to make a tough choice at the register whether to leave out Scotch, Apry or an Eau de Vie.


Edited by David Santucci (log)

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I'd have to make a tough choice at the register whether to leave out Scotch, Apry or an Eau de Vie.

I'm having trouble with this because of the scotch..blended for cocktails and single malt for sipping, but if we are only talking about cocktails, then i'd live without the scotch (I only make three or four mixed drinks with it) as long as my single malt does not count toward the 10 or 12...still musing on the rest...

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Okay, I'll play.

Rittenhouse bonded rye

Havana club 3-year-old rum

Tanqueray gin

Bols genever

Martell Cordon Bleu cognac

Batavia Arrack van Oosten

Fee's Whiskey Barrel bitters

Noilly Prat dry vermouth

Carpano Antica vermouth

Grand Marnier

Okay, not optimized for versatility, but optimized for deliciousness. If I could add two bottles (I'm sure I'd find a way of smuggling them in; I generally do), I'd add Inner Circle Green Dot rum and Vieux Pontarlier absinthe.

Only 4 of these are available in Washington State! :angry:

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Only 4 of these are available in Washington State! :angry:

i feel your pain. even being in california, a state that presumably should have much available. locally, that isn't always the story. web orders are your friend. there are several vendors that waive shipping over a certain amount (drinkupny.com for one).

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Okay, I'll play.

No Orange Bitters?

What, and get rid of a bottle of booze?

And shantytown, I feel your pain. I could just as easily come up with a list that looked like this:

Glenlivet 12

Highland Park 18

Bowmore 16

Macallan Fine Oak 15

Glen Rothes 1985

Van Winkle Family Reserve rye

William Larue Weller

Elijah Craig 12

Bushmills 10 malt

Suntory Hibiki 12

Or this:

Talisker 25

Longmorn 15

Glenlivet Nadurra

Macallan sherry cask 18

Ardbeg 10

Rittenhouse 10

Woodford Reserve

Old Fitzgerald bonded

Redbreast 12

Nikka 10

Or--well, you get the picture. Then there's tequila....

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Mine is not dissimilar from Dave's

Rittenhouse bonded rye whiskey

Laird's bonded applejack

Tanqueray gin

Bols genever

Louis Royer Force 51 cognac

Noilly Prat dry vermouth

Carpano Antica Formula vermouth

Vieux Pontarlier absinthe

Cointreau

Angostura bitters

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Not counting bitters:

Rye: Rittenhouse BIB

Gin: Plymouth Gin

Light Rum: Flor de Cana 4 dry

Dark Rum: Flor de Cana 7

Sweet Vermouth: Carpano Antica

Dry Vermouth: Dolin

Campari (Bug Juice if you can find it)

Absinthe: St. George (or one of the Ted Breaux products)

Maraschino: Luxardo

Tequila: Partida Repo

Add in Ango, Orange and Peychauds, as well as 2:1 demerra simple, and 1:1 white simple, and then fresh citrus and mint, and you're pretty much set.

Most of the bottles are around $20 here. And other than than the Absinthe, they're all under $35.

A partial list of the stuff you could make:

Old Fashioned

Sazerac

Manhattan

Left Hand

Whiskey Sour

Martini

Martinez

Aviation (sans violette)

Southside

Negroni

Americano

Daiquiri

Hemingway Daiquiri

Rum Old Fashioned

Rosita

Margarita (if you used agave nectar instead of cointreau)

Tequila Old Fashioned

Tequila Sazerac

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Mine is not dissimilar from Dave's

Rittenhouse bonded rye whiskey

Laird's bonded applejack

Tanqueray gin

Bols genever

Louis Royer Force 51 cognac

Noilly Prat dry vermouth

Carpano Antica Formula vermouth

Vieux Pontarlier absinthe

Cointreau

Angostura bitters

Ack. I forgot maraschino. I guess, if bitters count, I'd replace the absinthe on my list with Luxardo La Perla Dry.

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The May/June 2009 Imbibe magazine had a feature on stocking your bar that you might find interesting, Chris, if you haven't already read it.

For what it's worth, my list would be:

Gin

Bourbon (but only because American rye is unavailable in Ontario)

White rum

Cognac

Sweet vermouth

Dry vermouth

Cointreau

Maraschino

Campari

Absinthe (or pastis, in a pinch)

Angostura bitters are certainly a must, but the bottle is so small it doesn't count toward the 10.  :wink:

awesome!

I have all of that on hand in my liquor cabinet/fridge.

Maybe once people post their list, they can begin to start listing drinks that can be made from them with using only a few additional items (lemons, limes, etc.)

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Let's see if we can do this in alphabetical order:

Absinthe (Marteau seems to get high marks around these parts)

Armagnac (Don't have a favorite here; give me a big budget and I'll be fine)

Campari

gin (Beefeater or Whitley Neill)

Maraschino (Luxardo)

rum (Cruzan Single Barrel Estate is what I have, but there's a lot out there I haven't tasted yet: oh, joy!)

rye (Rittenhouse BIB)

Scotch (Talisker or Lagavulin)

Sweet Vermouth (Do they make Carpano Antica in small bottles?)

That's nine, but the tenth is really hard -- Cointreau for mixing, or genever for sipping(Genevieve for me, thanks)?? Amaro Ciociare for Spliflicator's version of a Brooklyn cocktail (for which I salute you, sir, whenever I mix one)? Then there's my hidden shame: Amaretto, for Sours?

Thank the gods of distilled grains this is only an academic exercise.

And I'm firmly in the camp of "bitters-are-too-small-to-count." It's like including salt and pepper to taste as an ingredient. 'nuff said.


Edited by Yojimbo (log)

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I'm about as far from being a cocktail expert as it's possible to get and still know of their existence. I have a very narrow range I generally go for on the occasions when I drink one. However, I get in the mood to play around now and then when I come across a cool/tasty sounding cocktail here on eGullet and I have several friends who are much more into cocktails than I am so I've been putting together a basic bar. I haven't been (and don't intend to) shooting for a high budget setup, I'm calling it middle-shelf. So far the cabinet contains...

Bourbon - Maker's Mark

Gin - Beefeater

Gin - Tanqueray 10

Rum - Appleton Estate Reserve

Rum - Appleton White

Vodka - Grey Goose

Vermouth - both dry and sweet

I also already have Cointreau, Kirsch, Calvados, Creme de Cocoa, Frangelico and several more along that line because I use them in desserts and chocolates.

Things I don't have yet...

Tequila - locally, they have Sauza Silver and Patron Silver (and Patron Anejo... which isn't going to happen). I'm not a tequila fan so the more than 2x price for the Patron Silver really needs to be worth it in a cocktail if I'm going to keep that on hand mainly for friends instead of the Sauza. I'm hoping the tequila fans are going to tell me the Sauza will be fine. I don't drink it so, if they want a really good sipping tequila they can bring their own bottle.

Rye - don't know much about it. Keep in mind with the suggestions that I'm in Canada.

Scotch - again, not a fan but I want to have something on hand. Anything in the same general range as the other stuff I have that's worth bothering with?

Cognaq - I can take care of this one myself but if you want to throw a suggestion in that's fine.

In addition to the above suggestions, throw in anything else that I haven't thought of that's a good idea to have around. I'm not trying to keep the overall expense particularly cheap, just not going to extremes on the individual bottles because I don't want to cringe in fear every time I see a bottle close to needing replacing.

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This week I have taken this theoretical exercise, and gave it real world application as I moved into my new home (OK, the girlfriend's apt). While my old place had room for the 180-something bottles that I held nearest to my heart, the new digs limit me to around 10 or so. The rest must live in the storage unit a few blocks away. I figured that I can always dip into that reserve as seasons change, and as I need other stuff. But for the rest of winter, I have chosen:

Genevieve

Rittenhouse

Carpano Antica

Red Hook Rye (barrel #2)

Smith & Cross

Buffalo Trace

Highland Park 12

Ron Zacapa

Herradura Anejo

Yeah, that should get me through until winter ends. I filled an empty 375 with maraschino, grabbed a handful of bitters, and my bar kit. This may change in a week, but for now it seems to work. And if not, well, there's always the bar across the street...

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Sauza Silver is fine for cocktails. If you can find the Sauza Hornitos it is considerably smoother. Gibson's is a good rye, especially the 12-year old, available in Canada at a reasonable price. I'm not a huge Scotch fan, but Famous Grouse is a fairly well-regarded blend. You'll never satisfy the single malt fanatics anyway, and most of them will drink it.

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Gibson's is a good rye, especially the 12-year old, available in Canada at a reasonable price.

This comes up from time to time, but it's important to note: Canada has a tradition of calling certain whiskies "rye" that are in fact not straight rye whiskies, but rather Canadian blended whiskies containing not all that much rye grain and not having all that much rye character. Not the same thing at all. If you make a cocktail calling for rye whiskey using Gibson's or some other Canadian blended called "rye" it will not be the same at all. This is not to say that these Canadian blends aren't or can't be pretty good. But they're not "rye whiskey."

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So I was discussing this with a bartender friend and he says that Alberta Premium, while still a Canadian blended whiskey, is in fact 100% rye. Anybody know anything about it? Good choice? Bad choice? Close enough? He also suggested Glenfiddich 12 as a decent Scotch choice for my purposes. What sayeth the Gullet?

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So I was discussing this with a bartender friend and he says that Alberta Premium, while still a Canadian blended whiskey, is in fact 100% rye. Anybody know anything about it? Good choice? Bad choice? Close enough? He also suggested Glenfiddich 12 as a decent Scotch choice for my purposes. What sayeth the Gullet?

Alberta Premium and Alberta Springs are both 100% rye, but the grains in the mash bill have less to do with the differences between Canadian whisky and American straight rye whiskey than the production process. As far as I've found, there's no Canadian whisky that tastes anything like an American rye, regardless of what grains are used. If you want to make cocktails that call for American rye, your best bet is probably to go with a spicier Bourbon (think Bulleit, not Maker's) and leave the Canadian whisky at the liquor store. That said, I do quite like Alberta Springs, as far as Canadian whisky goes.

As for Scotch, what are you looking for? Something to sip, or something to mix with?

For tequila, your best bet in Ontario is to just go with the El Jimador reposado. I'd forget Cognac entirely: for the price point at the LCBO, you're better off going with the Armagnac de Montal VSOP for your brandy needs.

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We're not rum drinkers, which apparently simplifies things! If I had to start over from scratch with 10 bottles, it would look like this:

Aviation Gin

Decent Vodka of some sort - Stoli perhaps, or Ketel One

Sazerac Rye

Sipping Bourbon: anything from Bulleit on up to Basil Hayden

Black Bush Irish Whiskey

Single Malt - rotating, probably starting with something big and peaty since there will be other whiskeys in the house. Lagavullin or Talisker

Dry Vermouth - Martini & Rossi

Sweet Vermouth - Carpano Antica

Luxardo Maraschino

Green Chartreuse

If I was starting this up in the summer I'd swap out the Maraschino and Chartreuse for Tequila and Cointreau. It's causing me pain not to have Lillet Blanc or Campari, but this mix gives me good sipping options plus our normal house drinks of Martinis, Rye Manhattans, and my new favorite, a Last Word. I have friends who like Vodka "Martinis" (iced vodka served up), and who like Vodka and something drinks.

(Like others, I'm not counting bitters!)

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If you want to make cocktails that call for American rye, your best bet is probably to go with a spicier Bourbon (think Bulleit, not Maker's) and leave the Canadian whisky at the liquor store.

The closest store that carries the Bulleit is about 5 hours away. Locally, I can get Jim Beam White and Jack Daniels No. 7. I can get Knob Creek semi-locally (about an hour away). I had someone pick up the Maker's for me when they were on a trip. I know the serious bourbon folks look down their nose at it but I like it. I'm willing to have another on hand if I can get them to bring it in though.

As for Scotch, what are you looking for? Something to sip, or something to mix with?

Mainly mixing. I'm not a fan of scotch straight. I wasn't the last time I tried it anyway, which was a long time ago. I may be tempted to sip a little just to see if that's changed but the main purpose will be for mixing. I'd like to go for a scotch that will be good for mixing but won't be too disappointing if somebody wants it for sipping. It doesn't need to be geared towards the serious scotch person.

For tequila, your best bet in Ontario is to just go with the El Jimador reposado. I'd forget Cognac entirely: for the price point at the LCBO, you're better off going with the Armagnac de Montal VSOP for your brandy needs.

The El Jimador isn't available where I live. They literally have what I listed above and nothing else. I can get it semi-locally about an hour away though so it's an option. The same problem with the Armagnac de Montal... it's a Vintages item and not carried locally. Not even the store an hour away has it.

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Without breaking the bank (which was tempting...) and excluding sipping liquors and bitters. Also only using products that are easily obtainable in the UK

Light rum - Havana 3

Dark rum - Woods 100 (or Goslings Family Reserve if I can stretch the budget a bit)

Gin - Tanqueray

Bourbon - Buffalo Trace

Cognac - H by Hine

Cointreau

Sweet Vermouth - Antica

Dry Vermouth - Noilly

Amaro Lucano (there's something about Campari I just don't like, for years I assumed that it was all Amaros but it turned out it was just Campari, sooo much lost time!)

Vodka (kind of...) - Zubrowka, purely because with freshly pressed apple juice it's one of my favourite drinks which tips the balance over the annoyance of having a vodka on the list. Not that I really consider it a vodka of course :wink:

Although, thinking about it, I would probably let my heart overrule my head and swap the Havana for Wray and Nephew white overproof. Couldn't do as much with it (with the same success) but I don't know if I could cope with not have any around!

Cheers,

Matt

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Don't get me wrong; Maker's is just fine. But it's a softer-style Bourbon, so it won't really approximate rye, whereas a spicier Bourbon will be a little closer in flavour. I think Knob Creek would probably be fine, too.

As for Scotch, I agree with the comment above that Famous Grouse is good for mixing, but if you're looking to accommodate single-malt drinkers, Glenfiddich 12 sounds like a good fit.

On the whole, your situation is yet another example why the LCBO should either let people have the bottles they want shipped to a local store, or just allow straight-up mail-order.

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On the whole, your situation is yet another example why the LCBO should either let people have the bottles they want shipped to a local store, or just allow straight-up mail-order.

Yeah, that would be nice. I've managed to get them to bring things in for me but it always seems like they're not real happy about it and it takes them a long time to get around to it. By the way, what do most Ontario residents do about maraschino? I'm guessing the answer is "without".

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By the way, what do most Ontario residents do about maraschino? I'm guessing the answer is "without".

Vintages does bring it in every now and then, so just keep an eye out for it. Or get someone to pick up a bottle when they're out of town. It's well worth whatever trouble it takes for you to get it!

Though, to be honest, I think most Ontario residents think that maraschino is the juice in the jar of cherries. :wink:


Edited by mkayahara (log)

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1) Plymouth gin for a proper martini

2) Noilly Pratt dry vermouth, smallest bottle possible as just a few molecules enter the martini

3) Burnetts gin (cheaper but still good stuff for gin and tonics)

4) Woodford Reserve bourbon

5) Gallo sweet vermouth

6) Glenfiddich 10 year scotch

7) A twelve pack of assorted beers including Guiness, Paulaner wheat beer, a light beer, and an amber lager.

8) Townshend T3 Red Table Wine (Washington State)

9) Whitehaven Sauvignon Blanc (New Zealand)

10)Absolute vodka for friends in training

Accessories: one shaker, one shotglass, interesting cocktail napkins, little clear plastic swords for fruit, good wineglasses, good double old fashioned glasses, small tall glasses, stemmed martini glasses.

Nonalcoholic mixers: regular and diet tonic, good storebought ice, Pellegrino, ginger ale, coke and diet coke.

Fruit: oranges, lemons, maraschino cherries, green olives with pimento.

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So I was discussing this with a bartender friend and he says that Alberta Premium, while still a Canadian blended whiskey, is in fact 100% rye. Anybody know anything about it? Good choice? Bad choice? Close enough? He also suggested Glenfiddich 12 as a decent Scotch choice for my purposes. What sayeth the Gullet?

Alberta Premium and Alberta Springs are both 100% rye, but the grains in the mash bill have less to do with the differences between Canadian whisky and American straight rye whiskey than the production process. As far as I've found, there's no Canadian whisky that tastes anything like an American rye, regardless of what grains are used. If you want to make cocktails that call for American rye, your best bet is probably to go with a spicier Bourbon (think Bulleit, not Maker's) and leave the Canadian whisky at the liquor store. That said, I do quite like Alberta Springs, as far as Canadian whisky goes

The Alberta products would best be described as "Canadian blended whiskies made with 100% rye." They don't have much in common with straight rye whiskey. Which is to say that, while the grain bill may be 100% rye, it is still made by blending ~95% ABV neutral spirits with a smaller amount of ~65% ABV "flavoring whiskey." American straight rye whiskey is not 100% rye, by the way, but there is no blending allowed.

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