Home Bar Series - Part 1 – What to stock?
If you’re the kind who entertains a lot of people at home, then having a home bar is essential. In the first of this three part series we tell you how to stock your poison.
You need not have a “bar” in your home you just need the basics that are necessary: Alcohol, some mixers, few tools, & appropriate glassware. In this part, where we focus on alcohol and mixers, it most important to note and remember that maintaining a well-stocked bar can be a pocket-burning affair. The silver lining is that most alcohol almost lasts indefinitely allowing you to build your collection gradually without any worry of spoilage
Filling up a house bar depends on many factors: The tastes of people you entertain, the space you have available and of course, the amount of money you're willing to spend. Your home bar stock should reflect you and your guests preferences. You can keep most people happy with basic liquors (whiskey, brandy, rum, vodka, gin) and a few cans of chilled Kingfishers. But if you don’t like to be just another mundane host, you would take more interest and indulge in liqueurs, a few wines and an assortment of beers. If you are stocking a bar for a gathering, buy the highest quality liquor your budget will allow.
Liquors: Its time you get a bit patient when you shop for liquors. The most expensive does not always mean the best. Where we have included the names of more than two liquors, some are more expensive, but if you are just using this for making mixed drinks, go with the cheaper brand. As for the others, you will have to experiment to find the best brand for you. You will also have to check the availability in your area. Couple of 750 ml bottles of each of these brands below collected slowly over time should fill up your cabinet.
Single Malt Scotch: Glenfiddich / Laiphrog
Blended Scotch: Chivas Regal/Johnnie Walker/Teachers /Vat 69
Whiskey: Antiquity/Blenders Pride/Royal Challenge
Rum: Bacardi Superior/ Bacardi Reserva/ Captain Morgain Spiced Rum/ Old Monk
Gin: Gordon`s/ Seagram`s / Blue Riband
Brandy: Bols/Mansion House
Tequila: Sauza/Jose Cuervo
Liqueurs: Liqueur is an alcoholic beverage that has been flavored with fruit, herbs, nuts, spices, flowers, or cream and bottled with added sugar. They are generally very low in alcohol content and make great aperitifs. There are literally hundreds of different liqueurs and liquors out there in almost every flavor. But, for most cocktails you might want to make you will need only a few of them. Triple Sec - an orange peel based liqueur is used in most popular cocktails like Margarita, Cosmopolitan, and White Maiden etc. If your budget allows you should stock Cointreau instead of triple sec, for its superior quality and magical twist that it brings to most drinks. Another popular liqueur is Peach Schnapps. It’s used in everything from “Sex on the beach” to the “Woo Woo”. When your cabinet is rife with all kinds of liquors and you are still feeling rich, we suggest you add Kalhua (Mexican Coffee Liqueur) to your repertoire. You can dazzle your guests with “Black Russians”. One bottle of each of these is a must to prepare a decent cocktail menu at your next home party.
Mixers: We suggest purchasing small individual cans if, possible. This way there will be no wastage. Soda, Coke, Sprite, Tonic Water, Ginger Ale, Lime Cordial, Tomato Juice, Orange Juice, Cranberry Juice and Pineapple Juice are must. You may want to add Graprefuit if you care. If you are unable to buy liqueurs for budgetary constraints, you may try either Angostura or Monin`s premixed syrups with give almost the same taste minus the alcohol content. Lime Juice and Simple sugar syrup cannot be ignored at any cost. Use fresh limes if you want, but simple syrup can be made at home and stored in an old liquor bottle. One bottle of Tobasco sauce and Worshestire Sauce will be helpful for making Bloody Marys. If you can lay hands on a bottle of Angostura Bitters, that would almost be the nicest thing you can add to your bar portfolio.
Wines & Beers: Depending upon the guest tastes, you can buy these more on the day of the party or when you are entertaining, as they have lesser shelf life.
Garnishes: These should also be as fresh as possible. Cut Pineapples, Cherries (maraschino or canned), lime wheels, orange peels etc can be used innovatively. You will master this art as you do more.
Ice: Always make sure your refrigerator has enough ice. For a party, its advisable to order ice from a local ice factory. General price range is Rs 25-30 a kg.
Where to buy: Our suggestions on where to buy. If you are in South Bangalore, drop by at Madhuloka, a 10000 sq feet liquor boutique on outer ring road. You will not need to go anywhere else. This will be your one stop shop for all your party / home bar needs. Alcohol is sold at MRP and you are assured of a wide range with price as well as quality. Otherwise, Deewars in downtown is also a popular place to go to. If you are few of those lucky people who own a Metro card, do not ignore their alcohol section, as you would find a great collection there as well. You will get most of the mixers including the premixes of Angostura at your local supermarket – Spencers or MK Retail. Angostura Bitters is not found very easily. One store that stocks it in the city is Toms Bakery and Café in Frazer town.
In the following parts of the Home Bar Series we shall talk about what tools you should own and the kind of glassware you must keep. But till then do remember that there is no “one time fix” to making your bar at home. It’s an on-going process and you must keep adding things, as you need them. Most of what we list is essential bar-stock and just a foundation to a well stocked poison cabinet. Enjoy your drink responsibly!!!