By: Chiara Shannon | Head Sommelier - K&L Personal Sommelier Service
As promised in my article "Stirring Things Up"in this month's edition of the K&L Wine News, here's the K&L short list of home bar essentials with notes and tips from our Spirits Buyer David Driscoll. It features the basic booze, mixers, elixers, and accents you need for a fun and functional home bar, with links so you can learn more about each product without spending a fortune. I've also included David's recommended essentail classic cocktail recipes to inspire you.
Be sure to forget to check out the K&L Spirits Journal for more cocktail tips, news, and updates on all things Spirits!
So what are you waiting for? The time has come to release your inner mixologist...
K&L Home Bar Essentials
Single Malt Scotch:
BenRiach 12 year old Single Malt Whisky ($44.99) - Standard Highland, standard scotch - vanilla, sweet barley, smooth
Glendronach 12 year old Distillery Bottling Single Malt Whisky ($47.99) - Standard sherry-aged, richer textures, brown sugar and cakebread.
Bruichladdich 10 year old "The Laddie" Islay Single Malt Whisky ($52.99) - Islay whisky, with only a hint of peat on the finish. A great beginner or accessible Island malt
Bank Note Blended Scotch Whisky ($29.99) - Inexpensive and made with 40% actual single malt, compared to things like Johnnie Walker that are much lower percentages and use more grain. Delcious for highballs or Scotch cocktails.
Four Roses Yellow Label Bourbon ($19.99) - Mellow, round, delicious.
Old Weller Antique Straight Bourbon Whiskey ($19.99) - Spicer, higher proof, wheated-formula instead of rye (most use around 60% corn and about 30% rye with some barley).
Templeton Rye ($36.99) - A small-batch marriage of rye casks with clove and baking spice flavors.
Bulleit Rye Whiskey ($21.99) - Made from the same rye as Templeton, but a much larger batch of casks that results in more mild flavors.
Campo de Encanto Pisco de Peru ($32.99) - 'Acholado' style Picso distilled only once, with nothing added, including preservatives, sugar, or water - just pure, clean spirit. Bottled at proof for use in cocktials.
Park VSOP Cognac ($34.99) - Elegant, round and easy to drink with rich, nutty flavors.
Laird's Straight Bonded "Apple Jack" Brandy ($23.99) - This 100% aged apple brandy is a necessity for anyone creating an authentic bar.
Osocalis Alambic Brandy ($42.99) - A blend of Colombard, Pinot Noir, and other Coastal Callifornia grape varieties, this local Brandy has the finesse and balance of the Old World brandies with more intense fruit.
Citadelle Gin from France ($19.99) - An inexpensive, basic bottle if you only want one option
Berry Bros & Rudd No. 3 London Dry Gin ($34.99) - The best London dry style gin available.
Ransom Old Tom Oregon Gin ($39.99) - If you want to make sweet vermouth cocktails, the barrel aging smoothes out the spice.
Belvedere Polish Rye Vodka ($19.99) - Delicate and clean with subtle aromas and flavors. For classic and contempory drinks.
Potocki Polish Rye Vodka ($34.99) – A stunning vodka, elegant and pure.
Tapatia Silver (in stock 8/2) - Balanced and smooth, with subtle spice. Great for mixing.
ArteNOM Seleccion 1414 Reposado Tequila ($44.99) - Nutty, bready, with cinnamon bursts and spicy cloves on the palate.
ArteNOM Seleccion 1146 Anejo Tequila ($49.99) - Incredibly lean for an añejo! Black pepper and fruit on the finish with flavors of toasty vanilla, warm baking spices, and roasted nuts.
Embajador Blanco Mezcal de Oaxaca ($19.99) - Smoky, vibrant, tangy, spicy and clean mezcal. Great value.
Ron Abuelo 7 Year Old Panama Rum ($24.99) - A fantastic sipper at a great price.
Chairman's Reserve Silver Rum ($24.99) - For white rum drinks with lime, a great value.
Batiste Rhum Agricole ($36.99) - Bright, clean, and distinctive, it mixes exceptionally well with many ingredients
Smith & Cross Traditional Jamaica Rum Plummer & Wedderburn Pure Pot Still ($29.99) - Navy-strength rum has all of the oily aromatics of a top-class single malt. Makes a mean Mai-Tai.
La Sorcière Absinthe Supèrieure Verte ($59.99; for those who want to just splash a few drops into cocktails, the 375ml ($35.99) is also available) - The anise really shines with clean and focused flavors. You could even drink it straight!
Byrrh Grand Quinquina Aperitif ($19.99) - Based on quinquina bark, which creates a wonderful earthy aroma and a slight balancing bitterness.
Campari ($26.99) - Sometimes Campari and soda is all you need to get the party started!
Cocchi Aperitivo Americano ($18.99) Try it chilled with an orange twist and a splash of soda to enhance its exciting herbal aromas.
Aperol Aperitivo Liqueur ($34.99) - Moderate in alcohol with a nice balance of bitter and sweet, this is great for using up leftover Champagne. Prepare like a traditional aperitivo with Champagne instead of soda on the rocks with an orange twist.
Dolin Blanc Vermouth de Chambery ($13.99) - Ideal as an aperitif or in cocktails as needed.
Dolin Dry Vermouth ($13.99) - Ideal as an aperitif or in cocktails as needed.
Dolin Rouge Vermouth de Chambery ($13.99) - Ideal as an aperitif or in cocktails as needed.
Lillet Blanc ($14.99) - The modern version of Kina Lillet, the essential ingredient in James Bond's famous Vesper Martini. Serve chilled or on the rocks with or without lime twist, or use as needed in a number of classic and revival cocktails.
Ferrand Dry Orange Curacao ($19.99) - A must for the Sidecar, Corpse Revivers, and a number of classic revival cocktails calling for orange liqueur.
Tempus Fugit Liqueur de Violette ($30.99) - With less sugar than Crème de Violette, this integrates seamlessly into cocktails without losing its essence.
Angostura Bitters 10oz ($11.99) – Gentian-based bitter. Absolutely essential.
Peychaud Bitters 10oz ($6.99) –Lighter and more floral than Angustura, a must for the Sazerac.
Small Hand Foods Gum Syrup ($9.99) - Essential for those spirit-driven revival cocktails like Sazeracs, Old-Fashioneds and Juleps to achieve the right balance and a smooth mouthfeel.
Small Hand Foods Pineapple Gum Syrup ($10.99) - Adds viscosity and texture, for Pisco Punch.
Orgeat Syrup ($15.99) - Made from almonds and apricots according to a pre-prohibition recipe for revival coctkails. If the recipe calls for it, there is no substitute.
Luxardo Maraschino Cherries ($15.99) - These cherries will enhance your cocktail significantly; you cannot compromise here. Try them in a Manhattan and you will know what we're talking about.
Driscoll’s Essential Cocktails
Negroni - equal parts gin, Campari, vermouth - stir
Manhattan - 2 oz whiskey, 1 oz. sweet vermouth, 2 dashes Angostura bitters - stir
Sidecar - 1 1/2 oz brandy, 3/4 oz orange, 3/4 oz lemon juice - shake
Aviation - 2 oz gin, 1 oz luxardo, 1/2 oz lemon juice, 1/4 oz Crème de Violette - shake
Pisco Punch - 2 oz. Pisco, 3/4 oz lemon juice, 3/4 oz pineapple gum - shake
Mai Tai - 1 1/2 oz Jamaican rum, 1/2 orange liqueur, 1/2 orgeat, 3/4 oz fresh lime juice - shake
Sazerac - 2 oz rye whiskey, 2 dashes Peychauds bitters, 1/2 oz gum syrup, dash of absinthe
Single Village Fix (margarita variation) - 1 1/2 oz mezcal, 1 oz pineapple gum syrup, 3/4 oz lime juice - shake
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