About a month ago, I read a piece in the New York Times that detailed a home bartender’s attempts to replicate some of the divine cocktails from The PDT Cocktail Book. His final bill? $450 on rare liqueurs — and he was still missing several ingredients he needed to make some of his desired drinks.
That got me thinking about what an enthusiastic home bartender could reasonably keep around without bankrupting herself or spending hours tracking down obscure ingredients. I started envisioning a more basic book of cocktails, one with recipes based around a list of ingredients that most cocktail enthusiasts will already have around, or that will be easy to obtain and versatile once you get them home. So what would we expect a fairly well-stocked home bar to have on hand? Here’s the list I came up with.
Essential cocktail bases
(a well-stocked home bar should include all of these)
At least one type of whiskey — Bourbon, rye, or Scotch
Optional cocktail bases
(may be in stock depending on taste)
Other type(s) of whiskey
Common cocktail ingredients
(most cocktail-savvy home bartenders will have one or more of the following)
Triple Sec/Cointreau/Grand Marnier (probably the most commonly used mixer)
Sweet vermouth (if you like Manhattans)
Dry vermouth (if you like classic Martinis)
Elderflower liqueur (if you like things that are delicious)
Elderflower syrup (see above — a budget-friendly alternative to the liqueur)
Grenadine (What do you do with this besides make a Tequila Sunrise?)
Bitters (definitely Angostura, possibly also orange)
Fair-game affordable fresh ingredients
Lemons, limes, and grapefruit
Assorted Juice (orange, cranberry, pomegranate)
Fresh ginger root
What liquors and ingredients do you find indispensable for your home bar?