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


by Shaun Layton | This is the third in a series of posts on building a home bar, five bottles and one drink at a time. The brands I choose aren’t necessarily the best in their respective categories. I’m just trying to use unique, readily available and cost efficient bottles for readers to help you get started. I’ve listed bottles 11-15 below (see also 1-5 and 6-10). As your own home bar comes together, please share thoughts or photos, or ask any questions you like via @shaunlayton.

11. Sietes Misterios “Doba Yej” Mezcal – As mezcals can get very expensive, this is a cheaper ($56.00) copper pot still option. It’s great for cocktails, as one doesn’t necessarily need to use more than an ounce in a drink. Try it in a Last Word cocktail (gin, green chartreuse, maraschino, lime) replacing the gin with mezcal. Incredible!

12. B.G. Reynolds Falernum syrup – A fantastic mix of ginger, clove, almond, and lime that can be used for all sorts of tiki and tropical cocktails. These syrups are high fructose and preservative free, and are made by cocktail enthusiast Blair Reynolds from Portland, Oregon. Available at The Modern Bartender or Legacy Liquor store.

13. Havana Club 3 yr – A Cuban rum ideal for summer time cocktails such as the classic Daiquiri, or the Mojito. One of the best bang for your buck spirits on the market, available everywhere for $25.99. It makes for a great gift for American friends, but it’s contraband so be careful!

14. Aperol – Made by the Campari family, this is an Italian amaro that is more on the light and sweet side than most other amari. Think of it as Campari’s younger, hotter, sister. Flavours like rhubarb and strawberry predominate. This beauty is best in refresher such as the famous Italian aperitivo hour tipple, the Aperol Spritz. Available everywhere.

15. Cocchi Americano – A fortified wine made from Moscato di Asti. The Cadillac of its category, Cocchi is the closest thing to Kina Lillet, a now defunct aperitif used in a lot of classic cocktail recipes such as the Vesper and Corpse Reviver. Also great on its own in short glass filled with ice and a splash of soda and a slice of orange. You can find it at specialty liquor stores or quality cocktail bars.


A cocktail of mine (pictured bottom-right) inspired by the classic Aperol Spritz

30 ml Aperol
30 ml Cocchi Americno
10 ml Sietes Misterios mezcal
90 ml sparkling wine

Add ingredients in order to an ice filled wine or collins glass. Briefly stir and add a slice of ruby red grapefruit for garnish.


IMG_6220Shaun Layton has helped to maintain a top notch bar scene in Vancouver for ten years, and since day one at Gastown’s L’Abattoir, where he is the Bar Manager. He also runs his own consulting company, designing bar programs and training staff locally and as far away as St.John’s, NFLD. Layton has competed and travelled throughout the USA and Europe, touring distilleries, breweries and bars. He was recognized in 2012 as the Bartender of The Year by Vancouver Magazine.


There are 3 comments

  1. Aperol also stands in nicely for Campari in a Negroni – the lower alcohol and less bitter profile makes it a little friendlier start to an evening.

  2. @stinkoid:disqus Good call, also try switching the vermouth to Cocchi Americano, and the spirit to Tequila…. The great thing with the Negroni, all ingredients can be swapped to a similar product and it usually works

  3. Yes, that works pretty well – thanks for suggesting it – even though circumstances compelled me to substitute Dolin Blanc. That’s a new product to me, and it’s not that far off Cocchi Americano as far as I can remember. Dolin has a nice (and affordable) Génépi, too.