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.
So here are a few suggestions to help build a solid foundation for your setup at home.
Bottle #1: Gin
Cocktail: Spanish Style Gin & Tonic
A far cry from my grandpa Jim’s summertime cooler, the Spanish-style Gin & Tonic (known colloquially as a “gin tonic”) is known as a vibrant, eccentric and heavily garnished variation of the stiff and proper English G&T. Generally served in a large wine goblet, I highly recommend you experiment with different gins, tonics and garnishes to see what fits your mood and season.
God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater (Original Recipe)
2 ounces gin (I recommend The Botanist or Monkey 47)
¾ ounce cucumber juice
4 dashes Fee Brothers Rose Water
5 ounces East Imperial Yuzu Tonic Water
Build over ice in a large wine goblet. Garnish with three cucumber slices, a lemon wedge, and if you have any handy, an edible flower.
Bottle #2: Campari
Cocktail: Negroni Sbagliato
As the story goes, Mirko Stocchetto, bartender at the Bar Basso in Milan, Italy, accidentally used Prosecco instead of gin while mixing up a Negroni. The Italian word “sbagliato” literally translates to “mistaken” in English. Considering how delicious the Negroni Sbagliato is, I would rate it as a happy accident, for sure.:
1 ounces Campari
1 ounces sweet vermouth
1 ounce Prosecco
Add all the ingredients to a rocks glass over ice. Give it a quick stir and garnish with an orange peel.
Bottle #3: Sweet Vermouth
Cocktail: Vermouth & Soda
Rosso, Rojo, Bianco, Blanc, Chinato, Dry, Extra Dry, Seco, Rosato or Rosado… Vermouth is delicious. Just make sure you keep it refrigerated. While we all know that vermouth is a perfect, low-proof partner to a high-proof base (think Manhattan, Martini, Negroni), a good vermouth can be nearly perfect when consumed by itself, on the rocks or as a highball.:
2 ounces sweet vermouth (I like Mancino Rosso Amaranto)
5 ounces sparkling water
Mix in a highball glass over ice. Garnish with a lemon peel.
To close, let’s combine all of these ingredients into one of my particular favorite classic cocktails, the Negroni! Get that classic recipe here.