The Cocktail Bar, Part III

Friday, June 10, 2011

It's time for Part III of Building your Home Bar: the essential non-essentials! These things are like shaving cream on your honeymoon-you don't technically need them, but they sure make life better!

Some of these selections are your standard spirits' more exotic cousins: cachaça, mezcal and pisco, in particular. If you've ever had a caipirinha, you know that cachaça is more than Brazilian rum, and tequila simply can't be substituted when a recipe calls for mezcal. For cachaça, try Weber Haus' Silver, and pick up a bottle of single village Del Maguey, which is widely accepted as the highest standard of mezcal. Marian Farms makes a terrific Pisco that's also biodynamic!

Next come the vermouths: this is one area where you will need all three varieties. Vermouth is a fortified wine (like sherry) that's been mulled with various other ingredients; it's essentially a cocktail spice, like salt or pepper. You'll need a red (sweet), white (dry) and blanc (a sweet white). For an exceptional red vermouth, Carpano Antica can't be beat, but Dolin or even humble Martini & Rossi will do in a pinch. Dolin's dry vermouth is excellent, and their version of blanc is also quite good. It's just as wise to pick up a bottle of Lillet instead of a traditional blanc vermouth, however; Lillet is also a fortified white wine that plays a role in many cocktails, and does terrific double duty.

Campari, an Italian bitter liquor, is a favorite of mine and so it has a place in the essential non-essentials. Over ice with a dash of soda, it makes the perfect summer cocktail, and while not everyone has a taste for it, you might be surprised by how refreshing it is!

You'll want a bottle of orange curacao or triple sec in your liquor cabinet; Cointreau is really just a more expensive version of the same thing, so feel free to splurge on it if you'd like.

Finally, you'll want a brandy; head to your local liquor store and pick out a bottle you can afford. As a tip, more expensive cognac is simply brandy from the region of Cognac, like champagne and sparkling wine.

And from the "others" category, don't forget to pick up a bottle or two of bitters. The must-haves are Angostura and Peychaud's bitters, but orange, lemon and even chocolate bitters can be great cocktail additions!

Next week, we'll enjoy the most decadent list of all: the non-essentials for the cocktails you love! And as a reward, another sour: this one with whiskey and Meyer lemon!


Meyer Lemon Whiskey Sour

1 1/2 oz of whiskey
1 oz of freshly squeezed Meyer lemon juice
1/2 oz of simply syrup
1 egg white, optional

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker; if using egg white, first dry shake. If not, shake for no more than 10 seconds with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Notes: a whiskey sour has just 4 ingredients: whiskey, the base spirit, lemon juice, the citrus, simple syrup to sweeten and egg white, to make a magnificent foam. Raw egg has gotten a bad rap since people started buying eggs from chickens in someone else's yard, so many recipes omit it. It's a personal preference, and while the drink does miss that wonderful texture, it's just as delicious!

Photo by Nora Maynard via the Kitchn.

25 comments:

  1. Oh Lena, you have no idea of how much you've been helping me with this. I am completely smitten. Thank you darling!

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  2. sounds delicious! i have a soft spot for anything lemon :) xoxo jillian:: cornflake dreams

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  3. Slurp, that cocktail looks yummy!
    And a happy weekend to you :)

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  4. mmmm these make me feel warm and sleepy lol.. or maybe its the 5am rise and shine time today..

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  5. you are weirdly knowledgeable and stylish about liquor, lena. you should come over and HELP me put together a bitchin' home bar. no?

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  6. When I first started going out to the bars, I always ordered whiskey sours. I can imagine with meyer lemons they're pretty good - it's been ages since I've had one, I get acid reflux the moment I sip whiskey now, grr! Plus it's made me sick 800 too many times, hahah! Have a great weekend!

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  7. I'm w/ Jillian...I love everything and anything with lemons. Have a great w/e!!

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  8. Please invite me over. I think we'd be great friends.

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  9. It's Friday. I'm ready to swig out of the bottles. Sad, but true. And no glasses to clean up. hehe

    You know where I'm going with that one!

    xo,
    C

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  10. I like this series- very inspirational- I think I need a new piece of furniture to house my bar.

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  11. this is perfect. definitely making this lemon whisky sour this weekend! have a great one! xo

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  12. That drink sounds fabulous. Anything with Meyers lemons. haha
    alexa
    www.theshortandthesweetofit.com

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  13. as soon as I finish painting my dinning room I am going to head out and get these essentials and take my bar to the next level. Oh yeah!

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  14. Oh la la I adore lemon-tasting cocktails! And..I loooove Campari!!
    Have a sparkling weekend, Lena darling!
    Laura@RicevereconStile

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  15. yum! I love me some whiskey. :]

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  16. Excellent advice, as usual! You need sweet vermouth for a Manhattan. I mean, I'm just saying...

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  17. I'm not much of a drinker, but that looks delightful!

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  18. I am officially thirsty! Is it cocktail hour yet??

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  19. you are invited to follow my blog

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  20. I definitely want a nice, fully stocked bar in my home when I finally settle down.

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  21. You are the cocktail guru... plain and simple!!

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  22. When can you come to Michigan to make sure our non-existant bar is up and running? You are phenom, Lena :)

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  23. Wow, yummy :)))

    LOVE minnja

    http://minnja.blogspot.com/

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  24. Ah, yes, I am such a fan of bitters -- perfect for a simple champagne cocktail!

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