After a long and hard day at work or before a long, hard night on the tiles, it’s always nice to have a glass or two of your favourite tipple close to hand. With the price of drinks in pubs, bars and clubs skyrocketing, more and more of us are turning to the humble home bar to enjoy our favourite drinks without catastrophic consequences for your household finances. Yet, while there’s nothing like enjoying a bottle of wine with a great meal or a robust ale with a great movie, your favourite drinks are even better enjoyed when shared. Whether you’re entertaining a few of your closest friends to watch the big game, hosting a glamorous cocktail party or a sophisticated dinner soiree the right drinks can make a big difference; making a good night-in great and making parties go with a pop!
But while a home bar is a great addition to any household, it can only thrill when it’s stocked with the right drinks. Just remember to start small, building your bar up gradually, and only ever buy the kinds of drinks you enjoy (otherwise what’s the point). Here we’ll take a look at some quintessential choices which no self-respecting home bar should be without…
Commonly referred to as “bartender’s ketchup” no self-respecting mixologist should be without it. This potent herbally scented and tasty liquor needs only a dash to liven up any libation from a strawberry daiquiri to a champagne cocktail. Its earthy, herbal and subtly sweet taste can lend even the blandest drink that extra indefinable… something. If your tastes err on the sweet, however, perhaps St-Germain elderflower liqueur would be a viable alternative that adds sweetness and character wherever it’s applied.
On its own vodka is only enjoyed by Russians and masochists, but when mixed with other spirits in a cocktail it can lend potency and gravitas. Alternatively, it makes an unobtrusive addition to virtually any soft drink and one of the easiest spirits there is to mix. If you genuinely enjoy vodka on its own Absolut has a glossy texture that goes over well, while Grey Goose is great for mixing.
While it’s currently enjoying a resurgence among hipsters around the world, this sharp and potent spirit has its roots not in the Victorian slums of London but in 11th century Holland. Its tart and slightly fruity taste comes from the juniper berries from which it is distilled; making it a common base for many popular cocktails. Enjoy with tonic water, cucumber and citrus for a refreshing pick-me-up.
A combination of whiskeys
Whiskey is a multifaceted drink. Some whiskeys are best enjoyed with no more ornamentation than a crystal tumbler and a comfortable armchair while others make a cocktail complete. If you’re looking for something to savor solo, a single malt scotch really is the only way to go. On the other hand, a good bourbon will go will in most cocktails while still being enjoyable for sipping.
If you have a sweet tooth, rum makes a great addition to your home bar. Usually, it is best left to speak for itself with a minimum of accompaniment. The Viva Cuba Libre requires nothing more than your favourite cola and a twist of lime, while rum can also serve as the base for punch at a party.
Finally, your home bar should be stocked with a robust selection of mixers to help you to get the most out of your spirits. Fruit juices are a given, as are cola, lemonade and tonic water. The greater your range of mixers, the wider your range of options.
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Founder of yourbeer.info and a self certified expert beer drinker…