Sunday, November 12, 2017

Reader Question: A Serviceable Bar

Photo by Salt Water New England

A Reader Question for the Community:
We will be hosting quite a few friends and relatives over the Thanksgiving and Christmas Holidays.  My wife and I don't drink much ourselves, but we want to stock a serviceable selection of liquor/beer/wine for weekend guests.  Do people have any suggestions for what to include?  

26 comments:

  1. I'm sure you'll receive wonderful suggestion here.

    I also don't drink which is why I am going to suggest having a non-alcoholic option of sparkling cider or other special fizzy drink among the alcoholic bar offerings. That way a person who doesn't drink for medical, religious, recovery or other personal reasons won't be put in an awkward situation.

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  2. "I feel sorry for people who don't drink, 'cause when they wake up in the morning, that's as good as they're gonna feel all day." - Frank Sinatra

    The best advice I can give is to keep it simple but not cheap. Get the basics: vodka, rum, gin, whisky (bourbon, Irish, Scott, whatever you like), tequila. For wines, I recommend both whites and reds. I prefer dry wines but you can get some sweeter ones for the barbarians. Chardonnay,Soave, Merlot, and Barolo are some that I stock regularly.

    Another option is to take a straw poll of your guests and ask what they like. Then, you can "buy to the crowd." That way, you're not stuck with a bunch of leftover booze...although I think those two words should never go together. Have fun!

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    1. Big Sinatra fan and I hadn't heard that quote before. Funny!

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    2. You hadn't heard it because it is a Dean Martin quote.

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  3. I'd say to make sure you have the obvious staples of one good pilsner beer, a nice white, and a red (if appropriate). When it comes to liquor, be sure to have the proper fixings for classic cocktails: Manhattans, Martinis, Old Fashions, and Tonic drinks, etc. This would mean having a selection of bourbon, rye, vodka, and gin, as well as sweet and dry vermouth (small bottles) and at least one type of bitters (which will never go bad). It doesn't hurt to have some fresh citrus fruit if it's available: limes, lemons, and oranges. Rum is unnecessary, and mainly drunk by proles. This holds true for flavored vodkas as well.

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    1. If rum is for proles, count me in. I'll take a good dark and stormy any day! Goslings, ginger beer, and lime is lovely.

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    2. I agree with Emily; a good dark and stormy is good any day!! As far as tonic for drinks, Fever Tree has a variety of tasty tonics. As far as red wine, Beaujolais is always a crowd pleaser.

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    3. Here in Florida rum is absolutely necessary.

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    4. And don't forget, the Beaujolais Nouveau will be here soon. Never hurts to have a couple bottles in the fridge.

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    5. Unknown is a snob! Nothing is more refreshing than a Mount Gay and Bitter Lemon tonic.

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    6. To: JGilliland - I agree wholeheartedly on Mount Gay and tonic as a regular MG imbiber for 35+ years. I also like gin and tonic. I go with the spirit basics of top-end vodka, gin, rum, bourbon and scotch along with appropriate mixers, and red and white wine and a variety of beers. Often, when I am a guest, I drink beer as protection against heavy handed bartenders. That way I can better monitor my intake and avoid the Frank Sinatra/Dean Martin problem.

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    7. I like anonymous 5:24's comment; you sound like a fun, easy going person! And JGilliland, I drink Mount Gay with tonic or cola but I have never tried using bitter lemon with Mount Gay! Sounds delightfully refreshing- can't wait to try it!

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    8. Agree with Unknown about stocking bitters. Pour it on a slice of lemon and bite into it for a surefire cure for a case of the hiccups. But disagree about rum for the same reason as others - a Dark n' Stormy is a fine drink.

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    9. "Sugar in drinks [is] for those from the lower ranks of society. 'Sweet alcoholic drinks are favored by the young and callow of all classes...a taste doubtless representing a transitional stage in the passage from the soda fountain to maturity.'" - Paul Fussell

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  4. As others have suggested, keep it simple. Quality should be good but you don't need to go all out.

    I would suggest gin (a London dry - Tanqueray, Bombay, or Beefeater), vodka, rye or Canadian whiskey, a dark rum (like Gosling's), sweet and dry vermouth, bitters, a local beer or two, red wine, and white wine. Whisky and bourbon are nice additions. There are lots of good, local distilleries these days, so it might be fun to share local varieties with out of town guests.

    For mixers: club soda, tonic, ginger ale or ginger beer, tomato juice, orange juice, grapefruit juice, and cranberry juice. Small bottles or cans are handy. For garnishes, limes, lemons, olives, and maraschino cherries for Manhattans (Luxardo are good).

    Port and sherry are nice additions for a light drink, as is a bottle or two of champagne. Festive options for non-drinkers are also thoughtful - sparkling or local apple cider, juices, sparkling water, etc.

    A good local liquor store should be able to help you stock a bar that meets your needs.

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  5. Wine - a white (Chardonnay, not too oaky) and a red (a Pinot noir goes over well in my house) and a sparkling wine or champagne. The occasional drinkers always seems to enjoy bubbly at a festive event.

    Liquor - vodka, gin and a nice bourbon or whiskey. Add rum if you want more variety but in my experience, most people that drink hard liquor will be happy (or at least satisfied) with the basic offerings. Over the years, too many bottles of specific scotch, tequila etc have gathered dust in my house.

    Beer - Pilsner and a Lager

    Non-alcoholic- club soda, toNic and mineral water.

    Compliments -lemon, limes and bitters. Club soda and a couple of dashes of bitters makes a very refreshing drink.I️

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  6. Fever Tree make a lightly sweetened tonic that is the Barbour of tonics. Use Pellegrino for the club soda. Limes are essential for both drinkers and drys. Vodka, a good gin, bourbon and scotch are adequate-rum and tequila aren't necessary. Men can consume amazing amounts of wine-try a merlot as its easier to find a good one as compared to a Pinot. Chardonay is essential but a sauvignon blanc is a nice addition.

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  7. Several years ago, SWNE had a similar question asked; the question was in regard to what makes a well stocked liquor cabinet or something to that effect. Well, I recall the comments were most educational about different liquors, beers, cocktail fixings, ... If it is available, it would be nice to read the many comments again! Thank you!

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  8. I'll drink pretty much anything on offer within reason, and I like to offer guests something new when hosting, so my list of recommendations would be far too extensive. One piece of advice I can offer though is to never underestimate the amount a close group of people will drink if they're having a good time. If you think you're going to need 10 bottles, get 15.

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  9. If I may throw in a suggestion to an already greatly entertaining list, there are a lot of gluten free folks out there and an awful lot of Paleo folk as well. Tito's satisfies both crowds, as it is gluten free and carb free. You would think all vodka's would be g.f., but no.

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    1. Thank you! Didn't know this

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  10. My son and son-in-law are bourbon drinkers so I always stock what they prefer, WOODFORD RESERVE, small batch 1792 and Makers Mark. Don't forget Sherry for late afternoon sipping and it should be Harvey's Bristol Cream for sweet and Dry Sack for dry and serving with ice and and citrus. PA

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  11. I shall not except your invitation unless you have a decent bottle of Scotch whisky ( single malt ) such as Laphroaig Quarter Cask .

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  12. Go to the best liquor store in town (ask a friend who drinks) give them your budget. Your done.

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  13. “I should never have switched from scotch to martinis.” The last words and regrets of screen legend Humphrey Bogart

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