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Chris Amirault

The Ten-Bottle Start-up Home Cocktail Bar

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Even potato shochu doesn't taste like vodka (because, as noted above, shochu has flavor). They're pretty different spirits.

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none of them tasted anything like vodka! Which is to say, they all had a flavour.

Even potato shochu doesn't taste like vodka (because, as noted above, shochu has flavor). They're pretty different spirits.

Firstly, potato Shochu is made using sweet potatoes and is a very, very different beast to vodka. That comparison doesn't fit at all.

Secondly, what's the crack with vodka. You are aware there are some fantastic flavourful vodkas out there, right? Not every vodka is distilled seventy times and filtered through charcoal a further hundred times. :wink:

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The list for me is more about the cocktails that I couldn't do without.

Martini- needs Plymouth or Martin Miller gin

Daiquiri, Mojito, Caipirinha- one dark and one light rum or cachaça, maybe Batavia Arak(I'm afraid I mix these up a bit)

Manhatan and Mint Julip- Bourbon

Fanciulli ( basicly a Manhatan with a substitute) Fernet Branca

Corpse Reviver #2- Cointreau, Lillet Blanc, and pastis or absinthe,

Bloody Mary- Vodka(infused with cucumbers)

El Floridita- maraschino liqueur

I didn't add bitters or vermouth because they're in my pantry for cooking, anyway. The list would allow me to make many other of my favorite cocktails. A bottle of creme de violette could be split between 10 people for each to make a years supply of Blue Moons, hardly worth counting for these purposes. Calvados is a must have for sipping, but I don't use it for cocktails, so we won't count that either.

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Having just started my own home cocktail bar, my first 10 purchases were:

Laird's Bonded

Rittenhouse BIB

Sazerac 6

Goslings Black Seal

Appleton Estate V/X

Plymouth

Cruzan White

Ransom Old Tom Gin

Kubler Absinthe

Cointreau

Going back, I probably would have grabbed the Saint James instead Cruzan.

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I'm attempting to put together a small bar myself - had a few people round for pre party drinks on NYE as a dry run. Put together at short notice, so some of the brands probably wouldn't have been my first choice! Those in the US in states with state controlled stores may be surprised to here that this was all from a fairly low end supermarket in the Uk (was like hell on earth with people buying cheep booze and party snacks!). Was based around popular drinks, with some campari for me!

Vodka (can't remember the brand, it was half decent and on offer)

Tanqueray Gin

Bacardi Rum (would have preferred something more interesting)

Martini Rosso

Martini Bianco

Angostura Bitters

Campari

Courvoisier Cognac

Cointreau

Chambord

And we had some Scotch knocking around. And champagne of course!

Plus the usual mixers, made some sugar syrup etc

Will need to refill some of the 'stock' booze and I also want to add

Tequila (Of some description)

Bourbon/Rye (I am not educated in these ways so I'll be reading for recommendations)

Applejack/Calvados

Some more interesting bitters

Maraschino (I like Aviations)

That should do me for a while, then I can really start branching out!

Carl

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I've been thinking about this ten bottle situation and really struggling to get past ten, without including bitters, which would take the count to eleven.

Here's what I would take,

Rye

Gin

Sweet

Dry

Cointreau

Maraschino

Campari

Chartreuse

That's eight. Aperol and Absinthe would be decent additions. Or Kamm & Sons as I love the brand and unique flavour profile.

I could add just Angostura and Orange bitters and be happy, but many here are saying they don't count.

I really mainly turn to Rye and Gin when mixing and although I can and will mix with anything, nothing is screaming for my attention more than those.

I'm enjoying a Lucien Gaudin cocktail right now, so think my choices are bang on the money.

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I've been thinking about this ten bottle situation and really struggling to get past ten, without including bitters, which would take the count to eleven.

Here's what I would take,

Rye

Gin

Sweet

Dry

Cointreau

Maraschino

Campari

Chartreuse

That's eight. Aperol and Absinthe would be decent additions. Or Kamm & Sons as I love the brand and unique flavour profile.

I could add just Angostura and Orange bitters and be happy, but many here are saying they don't count.

I really mainly turn to Rye and Gin when mixing and although I can and will mix with anything, nothing is screaming for my attention more than those.

I'm enjoying a Lucien Gaudin cocktail right now, so think my choices are bang on the money.

While nothing else is screaming for your attention more than rye or gin, what if you have a guest who asks for a Jack Rose? Or a daiquiri? Margarita?

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I like your list, Adam. Assuming you have two more 750ml bottles, I would add Cynar. Add lemon and soda, and you have a nice aperitif. Add to gin and Gin-Cin-Cyn. And to rye for a Manhattan variant. Add to scotch for a Rob Roy variant. Add to dry vermouth for a 50:50 variant.

@weinoo: "Sorry, I can't make you a XXX because I don't have the stuff. Would you like a YYY?". With 10 bottles, you can't have everything.

I would add scotch as my 10th bottle.

A lot depends upon your age. A younger crowd would enjoy weinoo's rum and tequila. And older crowd maybe Scotch. The Cynar is for you and your cocktail geek friends.

I could live with three bottles. Scotch, gin, dry vermouth. Scotch neat in winter; Martini's and Gin & Tonic's in summer.

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I've been thinking about this ten bottle situation and really struggling to get past ten, without including bitters, which would take the count to eleven.

Here's what I would take,

Rye

Gin

Sweet

Dry

Cointreau

Maraschino

Campari

Chartreuse

That's eight. Aperol and Absinthe would be decent additions. Or Kamm & Sons as I love the brand and unique flavour profile.

I could add just Angostura and Orange bitters and be happy, but many here are saying they don't count.I really mainly turn to Rye and Gin when mixing and although I can and will mix with anything, nothing is screaming for my attention more than those.

I'm enjoying a Lucien Gaudin cocktail right now, so think my choices are bang on the money.

While nothing else is screaming for your attention more than rye or gin, what if you have a guest who asks for a Jack Rose? Or a daiquiri? Margarita?

True, I do love a Daiquiri so since this is for myself, I'll have a bottle of light Cuban Rum. That's nine bottles. Cynar is a nice addition, too.

Nobody calls for a Jack Rose in England, though if I were to play Devil's Advocate to Dan, yes if I were asked for those drinks, I'd offer a Rye Rose, Ward 8, Final Ward, White Lady or 1934 Cosmopolitan et al.

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A younger crowd would enjoy weinoo's rum and tequila.

When in Rome... :cool:

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Here is what I would buy if I were starting from scratch:

Gin (Beefeater)

Rye (Rittenhouse)

Bourbon (Buffalo Trace)

White rum (Flor de Cana)

Aged rum (Appleton 12 years)

Tequila blanco (7 Leguas)

Dry vermouth (Noilly Prat or Dolin)

Sweet vermouth (Dolin or Vya)

Campari

Cointreau

Maraschino (Luxardo)

+ Angostura bitters (bitters should not count!).

Even excluding the bitters, that's 11 and not 10. Based on our (low) usage it would be logical to cut the tequila, however being located in San Diego it's not really an option (I need to be able to make margaritas!)... I would probably have to cut the maraschino although it is very sad not being able to make Hemingway daiquiris. No cognac, not scotch as they are not as versatile in cocktails... No Chartreuse... No rhum agricole but I would be tempted to switch the Flor de Cana for La Favorite or rhum JM. No aged rhum agricole for a proper Mai Tai... This is a bit depressing. It's very hard to keep it to 10 bottles!

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Solid list FrogP. Thing about a bar is you can always buy more and try new selections that make you happy


Edited by scubadoo97 (log)

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Don't think I could ever do a 10 bottle bar. I am more about the 100 bottle bar!

I don't like having to make hard choices because of a dearth of options. I prefer making fun choices because of a wealth of options!

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OK I'll play:

1. Gin: Beefeater or Broker's

2. Rye: Rittenhouse

3. Light rum: Flor de Caña

4. Gold rum: Smith & Cross

5. Aged/dark rum: El Dorado 12

6. Cointreau

7. Maraschino

8. Chartreuse (green)

9. Dolin dry

10. Dolin red

Boy, that's not easy.....

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It is interesting that I remember reading through the earlier posts in this thread three years ago when I was starting to build my bar and was looking for advice. Today, looking at this question, I see a new distinction - a ten bottle start up bar, and the ten bottles I would have now. Making the lists I found them slightly different.

For a start-up bar I would have

Gin

Rye

White Rum

Blanco Tequila

Cointreau

Campari

Maraschino

Green Chartreuse

Dry Vermouth

Sweet Vermouth

(Bitters, which don't count according to the above, so I am going with that.)

I think this list allows the broadest exploration of different cocktails. If I could only have ten bottles now, however, I would skip the white rum and exchange it for an Aged one (Appleton V/X). I would also probably get rid of Maraschino and exchange it for Benedictine, or for Cognac. I can't decide which. Getting rid of Maraschino would be tough, no Last Words or many other excellent cocktails, but I have been without it for quite a time now, so I know I can.

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I'm going out on a limb and hypothesize that there is no such thing as a well-chosen 10 bottle bar in an actual person's home. Anyone who takes the care we're discussing descends into the bottle hell and has dozens of bottles or more. Yes, I mean you, reader.

Or they have just a few bottles, enough to make "their drink" -- Manhattan, Scotch, Martini, Gin & Tonic, whatever.

Or, more commonly, they have about 10 bottles, of which 8 or 9 are undrinkable crap, often dusty, perhaps old gifts or left over from some cooking / baking experiment.

:raz:

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Practically speaking, I really do think it's better -- cheaper, more efficient -- to build your bar drink by drink, not bottle by bottle.

If you love Martinis, buy yourself a bottle of gin or two, some orange bitters and some dry vermouth. If you had a Bijou at a bar and loved it, add some sweet vermouth and Chartreuse. If you want to try this Negroni drink that cocktail geeks are always geeking out about go ahead and buy Campari. Or like Tiki instead? Buy yourself 30 rums and as many flavored syrups.

That said, it's a fun game to try to come up with a 10 bottle bar that can cover most of the classics, and it's a given that some burgeoning cocktail geeks will want to find lists like these for guidance. Mine would be

1. Gin: Beefeater or Broker's

2. Whiskey: Rittenhouse 100

3. Rum: El Dorado 5 or Banks 5 Island

4. Dry Vermouth: Dolin

5. Sweet Vermouth: Carpano or Cinzano

6. Cointreau or Luxardo Triplum

7. Campari

8. Chartreuse

9. Aromatic bitters

10. Orange bitters or grapefruit bitters

With runners up being Luxardo Maraschino, Cynar, Lemon Hart 151 (for drinks calling for overproof or dark rums (e.g. Dark 'n Stormy), as well as fun flaming garnishes), Weller 12 bourbon (you can blend it with Rittenhouse for a rye-mashbill 'bourbon'), Scotch (a good blend or something like Glenmorangie 10), either a blanco or reposado Tequila, mole bitters, Bols genever, and Del Maguey Vida.

This 10 bottle bar is a good start if you want to make the bulk of the canon, which isn't a bad way to begin at all. But it favors drinks and spirits from a century ago and minimizes great but more recently (re)discovered spirits like mezcal, and obscure-ish but awesome spirits like genever. It also neglects the growing array of versatile and excellent bitters (to be sure, the numbers of sub-par or hyper-specialized bitters are growing too). I think it might be better to start with one subset of mixed drinks and work your way out from there: if you like Margaritas, maybe explore the growing canon of tequila/mezcal drinks first, and then move on to gin and whisk(e)y and all the standards.

For myself, I'd probably be set with some good rums, Scotchs, mezcals, and Campari and Cynar.


Edited by Rafa (log)

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Practically speaking, I really do think it's better -- cheaper, more efficient -- to build your bar drink by drink, not bottle by bottle.

If you love Martinis, buy yourself a bottle of gin or two, some orange bitters and some dry vermouth. If you had a Bijou at a bar and loved it, add some sweet vermouth and Chartreuse. If you want to try this Negroni drink that cocktail geeks are always geeking out about go ahead and buy Campari. Or like Tiki instead? Buy yourself 30 rums and as many flavored syrups.

That said, it's a fun game to try to come up with a 10 bottle bar that can cover most of the classics, and it's a given that some burgeoning cocktail geeks will want to find lists like these for guidance. Mine would be

1. Gin: Beefeater or Broker's

2. Whiskey: Rittenhouse 100

3. Rum: El Dorado 5 or Banks 5 Island

4. Dry Vermouth: Dolin

5. Sweet Vermouth: Carpano or Cinzano

6. Cointreau or Luxardo Triplum

7. Campari

8. Chartreuse

9. Aromatic bitters

10. Orange bitters or grapefruit bitters

With runners up being Luxardo Maraschino, Cynar, Lemon Hart 151 (for drinks calling for overproof or dark rums (e.g. Dark 'n Stormy), as well as fun flaming garnishes), Weller 12 bourbon (you can blend it with Rittenhouse for a rye-mashbill 'bourbon'), Scotch (a good blend or something like Glenmorangie 10), either a blanco or reposado Tequila, mole bitters, Bols genever, and Del Maguey Vida.

This 10 bottle bar is a good start if you want to make the bulk of the canon, which isn't a bad way to begin at all. But it favors drinks and spirits from a century ago and minimizes great but more recently (re)discovered spirits like mezcal, and obscure-ish but awesome spirits like genever. It also neglects the growing array of versatile and excellent bitters (to be sure, the numbers of sub-par or hyper-specialized bitters are growing too). I think it might be better to start with one subset of mixed drinks and work your way out from there: if you like Margaritas, maybe explore the growing canon of tequila/mezcal drinks first, and then move on to gin and whisk(e)y and all the standards.

For myself, I'd probably be set with some good rums, Scotchs, mezcals, and Campari and Cynar.

While Rittenhouse is a good rye, you left out bourbon

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You have to make sacrifices to get a bar down to ten bottles. Bourbon is a great spirit but rye is generally (with notable exceptions) a better mixing whiskey: drier, spicier, more assertive. I did include Weller bourbon as a runner up.

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I just did this for a vacation travelling bar (with 20 bottles), and reverse engineered it by drink like Rafa suggested. I generally only need to make drinks for myself, and live in a control state, so my list was a little different. If I had a gun to my head and can only do 10 (not counting vermouth or bitters):

 

Rittenhouse Rye

Cazadores Reposado Tequila

Vida Mezcal 

Monkey Shoulder Scotch

Cardinal Gin

Fair Game Apple Brandy

Cynar

Maraschino

Fernet

Cointreau

 

Edit: Oh man, I didn't even get a rum in there, this is no way to live

 


Edited by JCK rum (log)

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My ten must have bottles for the basis of our bar.  With these a lot of classics are possible.

 

Gin

Whisky

White Rum

Amber/dark Rum

Brandy

Sweet Vermouth

Dry Vermouth

Absinthe

Cointreau

Maraschino

 

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I have a reasonable selection of liquor, but for the fact I have no gin (an aversion that goes back to college, when I got deathly ill from drinking way too much of what was likely a horrible rot-gut gin). I've discovered a relatively new gin I like -- Seersucker -- and it's on my list to get. I have bourbon, single-malt Scotch, light and dark rum, vodka, tequila, sweet and dry vermouth, Triple Sec, Bailey's, Frangelico (mostly to cook with). I'm currently out of brandy -- must pick up another bottle of that -- and I need some guidance in building a stock of necessary liqueurs and such.

 

I have not historically been a mixer of cocktails, beyond a vodka martini and/or a Manhattan or old-fashioned. My drinks have tended toward the simpler -- Scotch on the rocks, vodka tonic, the occasional Bloody Mary. But I think it's time I branch out.

 

Waiting for responses before I make a liquor store run.

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