DRINKER | How To Build An Excellent Home Bar, One Drink (And Five Bottles) At A Time

May 8, 2014.

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by Shaun Layton | Customers often ask me for guidance on building a home bar. My answers invariably depend on how much they drink at home, or how many deadbeat roommates they have, but the truth of it is that it can either take a long time to build or be done in a few trips to the liquor store. Basically, what I tell people is this: build your bar one or two drinks at a time.

This is the second in a series of posts on building a home bar (read the first here), so you might remember that the brands I choose aren’t necessarily the best in their respective categories. I’m just trying to use unique and readily available cost-efficient bottles. So here we go…

6. Buffalo Trace Bourbon | A great whiskey for “strong and stirred” drinks. It has enough of a backbone at 45% alcohol, yet it’s still elegant enough to enjoy on its own. It’s also priced decently at $41.99. Try it in a Boulevardier.

7. Punt E Mes Vermouth | An Italian sweet vermouth that has a bitter finish. The name translates as “point and a half”, which could refer to the fact that it’s one point sweet and a half point bitter. In my opinion, it’s the best bang for your buck sweet vermouth out there. You can easily find a bottle at private stores for around $30.

8. Luxardo Maraschino liqueur | I recently wrote about this great buy and it is now a LISTED product at the LDB! I’m taking full credit for that. Buy a bottle for $26.99. It will last you a while, as most recipes only call for tiny amounts.

9. Pierre Ferrand Dry Curaçao | This triple sec is made primarily from orange peels and Ferrand Cognac. It won “Spirit of the year” at the 2013 Berlin Bar show and is by far the best in show on the market. It’s great on its own, but even better in a Sidecar. Pick one up for around $48 the next time you’re in a private liquor store like Legacy or 16th Street.

10. Peychaud’s Bitters | Essential for one of my favourite cocktails, The Sazerac. Originally made in New Orleans, they are now made at Kentucky’s Buffalo Trace Distillery, where they make a lot of other magical things, too. It’s not easy to find here, but you’ll likely find success at the Modern Bartender in Chinatown. If you can’t any there, some barkeeps buy them in the US, get them shipped to Point Roberts P.O. boxes, or buy them off Amazon through private sellers…did I mention they are essential? If stuck, Bitter Truth Creole is the closest match and can be had for $8 to $14.

With your home bar now expanded, it’s time to make a drink…

Red Hook

The Red Hook cocktail is a modern classic, wherein NY bartenders started riffing on the Manhattan and Brooklyn cocktails, naming drinks after the smaller neighbourhoods in those cities.

60 ml Rittenhouse Rye (Mentioned in Part 1 of this series)
25 ml Punt E Mes vermouth
1 barspoon Maraschino liqueur

Add ingredients to a mixing glass with ice, stir until well chilled and diluted, strain into a chilled cocktail couple, garnish with a cocktail cherry.

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