Photo by Muffy Aldrich
The Modern Guide to The Thing Before Preppy

Monday, December 23, 2013

Question for the Community: What stocks the proper bar?

Question for the Community:
This may be the best time of year to ask the community this question.   What stocks a classic/proper bar? What drinks and brands are favorites?


  1. Hendrick's Gin. Even professed gin-haters like it when coerced into trying it.
    Glenfiddich Scotch whiskey.
    Buy good quality tonic water. There are even some artisanal tonic waters that taste like those of decades past. You would not think the tonic water makes a difference, but it does. Diet tonic water is an insult to cocktails. So is "lime-flavored" tonic water. Use real, good-quality tonic water and freshly-squeezed lime juice. It's 50 calories or so...Live a little...

  2. A very timely question as my present to me out of a recent year end bonus was a total re-stock of my home bar. It included
    1. 4 Roses Bourbon
    2) Overholt Rye
    3. Campari
    4. Grey Goose vodka
    5. Angostura Bitters
    6. Patron Tequila
    7. Plymouth Dry Gin
    8. Martini and Rossi vermouth
    9. Dewar's Scotch
    10. Hardy's VSOP Cognac

    John B

  3. I disagree with the Hendrick's suggestion. As a professed gin-lover, I can't stand it. It tastes too much like flavors other than gin. Bombay Sapphire is a favorite in our house.
    Along with green Chartreuse and sometimes yellow.
    Any label of rum does the trick, I feel almost as though it goes against the nature of the liquor to buy something expensive.
    Along with Gosling's ginger beer. Or Chappie's alcoholic ginger beer.

    1. I agree with your opinion on Hendrick's; the flavor profile is so outstandingly herbaceous and zippy that it's like sucking gin through a sweatsock stuffed with an herb garden. I prefer classic juniper-forward gins every time.

  4. At minimum, our bar is stocked with:

    Gordon’s and Bombay Sapphire gin
    A single malt Scotch (favorites are Bowmore, Dalwhinie, Oban & Balvenie – notice a slant towards Speyside and Islay)
    Grey Goose vodka
    Maker’s Mark bourbon
    Lillet Blanc (for Vesper martinis)
    Bulleit rye
    Mephisto absinthe (for Corpse Revivers)
    Courvoisier V.S.O.P.
    Gosling’s rum

  5. When we used to frequently host the extended family I just covered everyone's bases; one liked dark beer. Now it's Glendronach single malt for me; Tangueray gin for a sister-in-law, Famous Grouse, Weller Antique 107 and Reyka vodka-the last three recommended at a good liquor store in Portland.

    Vancouver WA

  6. Scotch Blend - Famous Grouse
    Scotch Single, Talisker, Balvenie Double Wood 12
    Irish Whiskey, Jameson for McNulty
    Gin, Bombay Sapphire
    Vodka, Stoli and another bottle of Stoli,
    Bourbon, Four Roses, Single barrel to make Danny Boys
    Canadian Mist for your uncle that does not know any better.

  7. My list is long but I like to have a selection of spirits on hand based on the guests and the occasion:
    Sipping Bourbons: Basil Haydens or Four Roses
    Mixing Bourbon: Jim Beam Black (great own its own as well)
    Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth (top shelf)
    Noilly Prat Dry and Sweet Vermouth(s)
    Fee Brothers West Indian Orange Bitters
    Angostura Aromatic Bitters
    Luxardo Cherries (splurge)
    Sipping Rye: Templeton
    Mixing Rye: Old Overholt
    Single Malt Scotch: Balvenie DoubleWood
    Blended Scotch: Michel Couvreur (A Belgian who imports and blends scotch in Burgundy France...Amazing trust me)12 Year Old Overaged Malt Scotch Whisky
    Top Notch Martini: Plymouths Gin
    Nearly Top Notch Martini: Bombay Sapphire
    "Gonna have a Martini": Beefeater Gin (G&T's too)
    Good quality olives
    Fever Tree Tonics
    Sipping Rum: Bacardi 8
    Mixing Rum: Brugal
    Leblon Cachaça (Caipirinha's)
    Homemade Simple Syrup
    Fresh Fruits: Oranges, Lemons and Limes
    Goslings Ginger Beer
    Luxardo Maraschino Originale Liquer
    Patron Tequila
    Absolut (Vodka is Gin's unrefined younger brother)

    1. Wow! Your home bar must look similiar to mine. I especially like your inclusion of Carpano Antica, which is my personal favorite rosso vermouth for most craft constructions. I've always been frustrated at the cost of Luxardo cherries and so have always opted for Trader Joe's cherries which I then treat with liqueur.

  8. I say stock the bar with the things you and your friends like, as long as you actively enjoy them!

    True to that philosophy, my bar comprises a largely generic selection of middle-shelf liquor and mixers. The things I buy with purpose are:
    ~ Gordon's gin
    ~ Fever Tree tonic water
    ~ Elderflower liqueur (e.g., St. Germain)
    ~ decent bourbon (e.g., Buffalo Trace or Maker's Mark)
    ~ Small-batch bourbon from Costco
    ~ Sextuple distilled vodka from Costco
    ~ interesting gin (e.g., DC's local Green Hat gin)

    And for anyone seeking preppy drinks: you cannot go wrong with gin. A gin & tonic has the appropriate connotations of Britishness and unabashed colonialism -- but when it comes down to it, it's grown-up Sprite. :)

    Happy boozy holidays to all.

  9. Don't drink vodka as it is a hooligan's preference.

  10. Finally a topic I believe I have something to contribute, First, gin. The Christmas issue of the Spectator addresses a variety of spirits but gin has since the advent of Bombay Sapphire become vodka-ized. That is made for people who don't like juniper.Cucumber and the like are fine but Hendricks isn't gin it is flavored vodka. For sweet vermouth ditch the Rossi, try Carpano Antica. Much subtler and less cloying. Finally the cisco bourbon is delightful. It may be Woodford but you can't beat the price and its very smooth.

  11. Must haves at our house: Harvey's Bristol Cream, Maker's Mark, 14 Hands Pinot grigio and merlot, Gordon's gin, a couple of interesting single malt scotches (e.g. Isle of Jura), Courviosier, Crème de Menthe and Crème de Cacao


  12. In compiling this list, I express fondness for brown spirits over their clear brethren, but I do find this set up works quite well for my own uses.
    Bourbon is a necessity in my opinion. I rely almost exclusively upon Four Roses Small Batch and Woodford Reserve Distiller's Select. Four Roses is for mixing, neat, and for those who don't necessarily like bourbon. Rye is also a staple. Knob Creek Small Batch Rye fills in where bourbon won't do, or more interest is desired. Bulleit also makes a fine Rye.
    Being of Scottish descent, I am blessed to have a family connection to the Balvenie distillery. I am therefore (highly), but I do regard the Balvenie Caribbean Cask 14 and Double Wood 12 with the highest of praise. Oban 14 additionally seems to have become a staple in the previous year. I have further taken a liking to Glenglassaugh Revival, a perfect dram for those uninitiated to Scotch or who do not like smoke, while remaining heartier than any lowland malt.
    Moving beyond whiskey/whisky, I shall elucidate upon brandy and sherry. I’ve developed a liking of Raynal VSOP for mixing, and Courvoisier VS for sipping by the fire with a good book. As for Sherry, a taste for Harvey’s Bristol Cream has been inherited from my father and grandfather.
    Despite my stated fondness for brown spirits, a bar without gin is just a collection of bottles. Bombay original and Brokers have always worked for GTs, Negronis, and Gimlets, as well as my wallet. There are better bottles certainly, but these work fine for me.
    Vermouth is often overlooked, but Vya Sweet and Dry are among the best out there in my opinion. I additionally keep a bottle of Campari or Aperol at most times, especially in the summer. I normally use Angostura Aromatic Bitters and Fey Brothers.
    Finally; wine. For the first twenty-two years of my life I had the privilege of growing up in the Finger Lakes region of New York. If you like Riesling or Gewürztraminer, seek out local favorites Dr. Frank Konstantin or Keuka Spring. It simply does not get better that this. The Vermont wine scene, sadly, cannot compare. In fact, plan a trip to the Finger Lakes. It’s an area of exquisite beauty, and warm people.
    Finally, stock whatever mixers you like! Enjoy, and Happy Holidays.

  13. As an Irish Whiskey drinker, there is only brand I stay with and that is BUSHMILLS in its various incantations, especially their Single Malt.

    Jameson is made in the Republic of Ireland and is a very poor competitor from a taste and consistency standpoint.

    And after all, Bushmills does originate in the world's OLDEST operating distillery.

    All of the other liquors mentioned are for those who drink them. When I walk into a tavern or bar, I always look for the BUSHMILLS first.

  14. Anonymous- your Canadian Mist comment is priceless! I will so have to remember that for the next holidays I host. Don't want this to be a rant BUT my pet peeve is visiting homes where they serve "bottom shelf" alcohol but are Oh so happy to drink our "top shelf" until it is gone!

  15. Heineken!!
    Merry Christmas!!!!!!!!

  16. Heineken.
    Clan McGregor (the BIG bottle).
    Beefeater Gin.
    Jack Daniel's.
    Big bottle red wine.
    Big bottle white wine.
    2 sizes plastic cups.
    Swiss Army knife w/corkscrew.

    From a purist . . . ;)

  17. I second the recommendation of Fever Tree tonic. I like to pair it with Plymouth Gin, although I do not drink gin-and-tonics beyond summer.

    The only addition I have to the above would be a good bottle of sherry. A woefully neglected wine.

  18. Bombay Sapphire, Dewar's, Famous Grouse, really nice Scotch that someone gave you, two bottles of Jameson, Mount Gay, Bailey's, Pimm's, terrible vodka, bourbon maybe, cans of beer kept in the garage, tonic, soda water, ice, lemons and limes, coke, ginger ale, cocktail onions, gherkins, green olives, several bottles of really decent red wine someone gave you, several bottles of organic $4.99 wine from Trader Joe's for personal consumption only, Veuve Cliquot. Matthew Findlay, much agreed on Finger Lakes! Merry Christmas friends.

  19. Whereas a classic dry gin goes a long way in Summertime, I find that Autumn and Winter call for rich, dark liquors and cordials. Brandy such as armagnac or apple brandy (e.g., Delord's or Laird's) lend themselves well to Fall-friendly cocktails, as do dark rums such as Pusser's BNR or Meyer's. Whiskies are obviously "to preference", but contemporary standards for ryes, bourbons and scotches could be Bulleit, Basil Hayden's and Johnnie Walker Black, respectively.


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