The bottles on show in your home bar, were once a sign of how cultured you were. Showcasing your favourite spirits, liqueurs and aperitifs that had been discovered on far flung travels around the globe. Or simply just as a trophy cabinet paying homage to how refined a palate and overall taste you have.
A Note On Glassware...
In order of importance, after the ingredients themselves and any mixing apparatus, comes glassware. The way you present your finished drink is how many of your friends will judge your efforts. So, rather than serving your meticulously-made cocktails in mismatched, branded glasses, invest in some choice pieces of glassware and you’ll surely impress.
We’d suggest a good set of tumblers, highball glasses and martini glasses. Stay away from specialist glassware, like a hurricane glass for Pina Coladas or cosmos.....if you drink these you may as well skip this article entirely.
In terms of design, clean is king! No fancy, heavy cut crystal. It should give the drinker optimum view of their drink, as if it was a window into the beverage. Also you don't want glassware that looks akin to a recycled 1970s ashtray.
Dartington Crystal Tumbler - £46 LSA Highball - £24.95 LSA Martini Glasses £22.50
What To Stock?
Firstly throw away any bottles of spirit you already own. We all pick up random booze throughout the year, a birthday gift here a left over bottle from a party there. So ditch all the off-license vodka and bargain birthday gift whisky. Then, acquire the "holy eight" – these should be of a reasonable expenditure, but one which will reward you consistently when you start pouring.
A good Scottish whisky; a dry gin; a Russian vodka; Kentucky bourbon; Blanco tequila; Amber rum; French Brandy and Vermouth. These are the staples of your collection, from which you can make most cocktails. Add simple syrup and Angostura bitters to this list, along with the basic mixers you should always keep in your fridge. Tonic water, soda water, ginger ale, grenadine and fruit juices. Also Ice in the freezer.
Macallan 12yr - £59.95 Hendricks Gin - £28.95 Stolichnaya Elit Vodka - £39.95
Woodford Reserve - £25 Patron Silver Tequila - £39.95 Mount Gay XO Rum - £35
Remy Martin XO - £110 Noilly Prat Vermouth - £12 Angustura Bitters - £8
Some of the bottles in our selection top £20 and often nearer £40-£50. The reason for this is that these spirits are high enough quality to stand alone. By that we mean that they are good enough to be drunk straight and don't need to be in a cocktail to make them palatable. Many lesser spirits are only worth the money when hidden inside a multi-flavoured cocktail. You want a spirit that, say if someone asks for whisky on the rocks, will be a solid choice for them to imbibe.
Try to keep things simple. A few well chosen and good quality pieces will be far more appreciated than dozens of inferior spirits.