So far you've had a Sidecar, tasted a Between the Sheets and met Tom Collins. Without further ado - drum roll please, let me introduce you to the Booth's Gin cocktail competition first prize winner - The Red Lion. Oh and the year was 1933. But trust us, there's nothing old school about this cocktail.
The Red Lion was created by a British barman, Arthur Tarling. The drink was soon adopted by Grand Marnier for promotional use in the 30's and is actually still being promoted up to now as you can see from their website. That's been over 70 years! Talk about a cocktail with staying power.
In a Boston shaker with ice, combine:
2 oz Gin (Tanqueray #10)
1 oz fresh lemon juice (no subsitutes)
1/2 oz Grand Marnier
1/2 oz Grenadine
Strain into a chilled martini glass.
Optional sugar rim.
Setting up a home bar is all about having the right equipment and ingredients. In the first part of this series, we'll cover the essential utensils you'll need. Part 2 will cover glassware and Part 3 will cover liquor.
Stock up on these essentials and don't cut corners on quality. You'll soon be the toast of your town, or city, or suburb...
- A Boston Shaker. This is the professional version that most bars use. 2 pieces, a pint-size mixing glass and a stainless steel shaker cup. We prefer this type over the more common 3 piece stainless steel types because the clear glass in the Boston Shaker allows you to see what you're mixing and let's you know if your proportions are right. We like the Rosle Boston Shaker. Get a Boston Shaker here.
- A Hawthorn Strainer. A basic strainer shaped like a spoon with a spring edge. The Hawhorn Strainer ensures that you don't get any bits of ice in your drinks. Fits over any size glass. Always strain your drinks from the mixing tin. This way if you're off on your measurements, nobody else will be the wiser. Get one here as part of the Oxo 7 Piece Stainless Steel barware set.
- A Jigger. For measuring. Most usually have 1 oz on one side, and 1/2 oz on the other side, sometimes also called a double jigger. You'll want to use one of these until you've mastered freehand pouring. Get one here as part of the Oxo 7 Piece Stainless Steel barware set.
- Pour spouts. After you've become comfortable mixing a few cocktails, you might want to consider using a pour spout. Pour spouts allow you to mix your drinks faster, because you don't lose time measuring and you don't want to keep your patrons waiting. There are all kinds of pour spouts out there, even ones that measure for you when you pour. We don't like these because they can interfere with your rhythm when you're pouring. Look for the Spill Stop Model #285-50, it's a professional standard. Buy a couple - because it's a bad idea to switch pour spouts without washing them first, and remember to always re-cap your bottles with the original caps. This way your premium hooch doesn't go up in smoke. Get a set of 12 Spill Stop 285 here.
- A sharp knife. Important for preparing garnishes and slicing those lemons and limes.
- A citrus stripper / zester. The sharp head removes the pith from citrus fruits and the side knife gives you that perfect twist everytime.
- A chopping board. Get one here as part of the Oxo 7 Piece Stainless Steel barware set.
- Swizzle sticks (for stirring long drinks), a long bar spoon and straws.
- Citrus Press. This is an essential part of your home bar - because nothing but freshly squeezed juice will do. That means no canned juices or store bought mixes. This stainless steel model from Nor-pro is an excellent choice.
- Get one here.
- A wooden muddler. To crush fruit and bruise herbs. Have no mercy. Get it here
- A Waiter's Knife. A multi-purpose tool which usually contains a knife, cork screw and can opener. Our money is on this model from Victorinox, the company that gave us Swiss Army. Yours should be too. Get one here.
- A Blender. How else are you going to make those margarita's? This one's a Consumer Reports Best Buy - that's good enough for us. Get it here.
Honorable Mention #1: This manual juicer from Hamilton Beach. A tad more expensive but worth every penny. It's the commercial version you'll find in any top class bar. Worth every cent when you're whipping up a killer cocktail. Get a Hamilton Beach Manual Juicer here.
Honorable Mention #2: The Oxo 7 Piece Stainless Steel Barware Set is one of the most trimmest and elegant sets around, containing just about everything you might need for a basic home bar.
In Part 1 we covered basic utensils and barware - items such as Boston shakers, Hawthorn strainers, muddlers etc.
Now it's time to take a look at the second part in our home bar series, glassware. Buy the best quality you can afford, and always wash glassware by hand to prevent chips and cloudy build-ups. Stick to the sizes shown so that your drinks look right in the appropriate glassware. Bottoms up!
1. Martini glass: 4 - 6 oz
2. Old fashioned / rock glass: 8 - 10 oz
3. Collins glass: 10 - 12 oz
4. Champagne flutes: 5 - 8 oz
5. Wine glass: 10 - 14 oz
6. Shot glass: 1 0z
7. Cordial glass: 2 oz
8. Brandy snifters: 9 - 12 oz
9. Margarita glass: 9 - 11 oz
Subtract and add at your leisure. At the very least you'll need martini glasses, old-fashioned glasses and Collins glasses for a basic bar setup.
Cocktail Base Liquors – Gin Whisky Vodka Cognac Scotch Tequila Rum – Building a home bar – part 3 of 3
This is not a definitive list. There are a lot of excellent brands that are not mentioned here, and more are launched frequently. Don't be afraid to experiment with any of the numerous other brands and tell us about your experience.
Pick and choose from my recommendations below to help you stock your home bar. I have added flavors to some of the items to help you choose the ones you can start out with based on your preference. Everything in the modifier section is essential, items 1 -10 in the color/flavoring section are strongly recommended. Favorites are italicized.
A basic cocktail may consist of:
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Gin is probably the most misunderstood of the major base spirits. Vodka, considered by some to be the best of all spirits couldn't be any further from the truth. Here, gin is king of all the liquors. It has a strong profile - taste, aroma and a world of exotic profiles that differ from one gin to another depending on the herbs and spices used in it's distillation. Gin is not your father's drink anymore. Get familiar.
It's widely believed that the English invented gin. No - the Dutch did. It was discovered in the 17th century by Franciscus de la Boe (aka Dr. Sylvius), a Dutch physician at the University of Holland. English soldiers returning from the 17th century war brought the drink back with them to England where it soon became the national drink.
007 gets his martinis with vodka - but martinis traditionally call for gin. Plus 007 likes his martinis shaken and not stirred - (also wrong, or right) but let's save that debate for a later post, shall we?
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Since you've already been acquainted with Gin, our second base liquor is Rum. Rum has a dark and murky past dating back to the 17th century when it was the drink of choice for pirates, slave runners, American colonists and the British Navy. Rum was created in the Caribbean (credited to the arrival of Christopher Columbus - who planted the plant there), when sugarcane plantation owners realized they could create a unique liquor from adding water to the juice of the sugarcane plant.
All rum then by default comes from sugarcane by-products - fermented sugarcane juice, sugarcane syrup or sugarcane molasses. Rum is usually broken into two classes, light or dark. Light rum is typically young (may be aged in un-charred oak barrels) or un-aged rum perfect for mixing in cocktails. Dark rum on the other hand derives its color as a result of aging in charred oak barrels which imparts a more pronounced flavor. Deeper colored rums have usually been aged longer and should be sipped straight like fine cognac.
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