Over my nearly 20 years working in and around bars and restaurants, I have had a lot of non-industry friends ask for my input and advice as to how they should stock their home bar, and what type of cocktails can be made with what they have on hand. Stocking one’s home bar is one of those super simple things that can be made complicated by sheer availability of product.
That said, these are a few suggestions to help build a solid foundation for your setup at home. For the first three bottles in this series, click here.
Bottle #1: Vodka
Cocktail: Green Chile Mule
Obviously, if you are reading a magazine about alcoholic beverages, then you are probably familiar with a Moscow Mule. This spicy riff is easy to put together at home and adds some great vegetal notes and a respectable amount of heat to the classic vodka favorite. I would always recommend that, even if you are going to infuse the bottle, use something with quality and some flavor to it.
2 ounces green chile-infused vodka* (I like Copperworks vodka)
3/4 ounce lime juice
4 ounces ginger beer
Build over ice in a copper Moscow Mule mug, or a regular glass. Garnish with a lime wedge and a pickled jalapeño slice.
*To make green chile-infused vodka, combine 1 bottle of vodka with 2 green bell peppers, de-seeded and cut into strips, and 1 jalapeño pepper, de-seeded and cut into strips. Let sit for 24 hours before serving.
Bottle #2: Rum
The single greatest drink known to mankind. The simple daiquiri is shockingly easy to get wrong. So, if you are ever looking to test the muster of your new local bartender, belly up to the bar and order one. If they nail it, you know you have got a bartender you can trust. Though a classic daiquiri is made with white rum, if you really want to get extra fancy, try a 50/50 mix of Plantation Stiggins Pineapple Rum and Plantation OFTD Dark Rum.
2 ounces white rum (I like Caña Brava or Plantation 3 Star)
1 ounce lime juice
3/4 ounce simple syrup (1:1 ratio)
Combine ingredients in a mixing tin, shake and strain into a coupe.
Bottle #3: Tequila
Cocktail: Tequila Por Mi Amante
Though not technically a cocktail, this little maceration has been one of my favorite beverages to sip on for over a decade. First mentioned in Charles H. Baker’s 1946 publication “Around the World with Jigger, Beaker & Flask” as a recipe he learned of in 1937 while traveling through Mexico City, Tequila por mi Amante (translation: tequila for my lover) is a perfect blend of rich agave notes of the tequila and the tart, semisweet brightness of ripe strawberries. Though it can definitely be enjoyed at room temperature, I recommend throwing it in the freezer overnight and enjoying it cold.
1 liter silver tequila (I like Siete Leguas or Tapatío Blanco)
1 quart ripe strawberries (stemmed and halved)
Seal in an airtight container (like a mason jar) and let sit in a cool place for at least 21 days. Strain the Tequila out and serve.