There’s no question that 2020 and 2021 brought forth a new world.
Rather than going out with friends and family, we stayed inside. We binge-watched, made sourdough bread, & discovered new talents. Some of us endured tremendous hardships, while others had unexpected success… some lost work & others worked harder than ever.
No matter how these “unprecedented times” affected you – We could all agree: we could really use a good drink!
As restrictions lift and better days are arriving, many of us are eager to rediscover their favorite local establishments to reconnect with friends while sipping a margarita, martini, or perhaps a great craft beer. We at Aldez hope to see you out there! In fact, be sure to tag us on your Insta if you’re back out in the open air!
But if your time in quarantine uncovered the joy of mixing cocktail creations in your own home, cocktails that could be influenced by your own unique flair and personality, and can be savored with the people you love, the time may be right for you to embrace your burgeoning inner mixologist and set up your very own home bar.
A home bar is a marvelous way to create a highly individualized environment within your home or outdoor living space. Whether fun, elegant, sporty, vintage, edgy… a home bar can be as unique as your own vibe, while being a fantastic centerpiece for entertaining your tribe.
So where should you start? Which bottles should you stock up on in order to maximize your potential for creating familiar favorites, as well as unique creations of your own?
Every home bar starts with a couple of essential bottles of liquor, as well as some standard equipment, and other accoutrements.
Plan ahead to obtain the right equipment before you purchase your stock of liquor, so that you can enjoy the beverages to their fullest extent once you begin mixing. You can either explore the aisles of a brick and mortar store or shop online at places like Advanced Mixology to get the bar tools shipped directly to your door.
Find a good space to store your bottles. For those who desire a smaller collection or have limited floor space, many opt to store bottles in a cabinet either in the kitchen or in a dining room. If you do have the floor space, however, consider investing in a quality bar cart.
A bar cart, especially if equipped with wheels, is not only a classy way to store and present your collection, but also a way to cater to guests when hosting company.
Once you know where you are storing your liquor and bar equipment, you can begin to obtain a few essential items you’ll need to make most cocktails. These include:
Those few items are the main equipment you’ll need to get started. Other items, such as bar spoons, cocktail picks, and the like, are extra items you can invest in when you want to step up to more advanced cocktail preparation and presentation.
With the above equipment, you’ll be ready to make a wide variety of new and classic cocktails. But of course, the glass can’t be empty.
The majority of cocktails begin with one of a handful of primary liquors, or “core base spirits,” which you’ll want to keep stocked:
These five liquors make up a vast majority of cocktails, so having one or more bottles of each in your collection will help to ensure you’re ready for most any mixed drink recipe.
In some cases, and based on your tastes, you’ll want to find the most versatile liquors to work with. For example, you don’t need to invest in a high-quality, costly single-barrel whiskey if you plan to primarily enjoy it in a mixed drink (such as with ginger ale and grenadine). It is perfectly acceptable to choose familiar fan-favorites for mixed drinks while you get familiar with your ingredients. On the other hand, if you have particular flavors that you enjoy and appreciate, it is well worth it to choose high quality liquors that can be sipped neat (room temperature in a glass), savored “on the rocks” (over ice), or enjoyed in a sophisticated cocktail. Let your personality and palette guide you.
A traditional cocktail typically includes a base spirit (e.g. one of the five liquors above), a sugar, and what is called “bitters” (usually a combination of extracts and other flavorings).
A good place to start is to purchase a bottle of Angostura bitters, a ubiquitous ingredient featured in dozens, if not hundreds of cocktails. Angostura is the “classic” bitters and a good way to add a special something to even a plain glass of whiskey over ice. If you want to explore a bit more, we recommend branching out to orange bitters.
The other staple add-in that appears in countless cocktail recipes is simple syrup – or agave syrup (which is a 50/50 mix of agave nectar & water), which is a great alternative.
Other liqueurs & add-ins that you may want to add to your list are the following:
Those two families of liqueurs will get you very far in mixology, while even more doors open if you stock amaretto and/or coffee liqueur. Beyond these categories, other niche cocktails have diverse inclusions, so again, let your own personal flair, style, and tastes guide your purchases.
Despite what the obsessively detailed (and often professionally photographed) images on your favorite Instagram feed might show you, many cocktails don’t actually need a garnish in order to be enjoyed. That being said, for those that truly wish to savor their drink’s flavor and enjoy life’s finer nuances, most cocktails do benefit from a wedge or rind of citrus, or a sprig of fresh herbs.
So keep a couple fresh citrus fruits on hand, which are especially useful as an ingredient in many great Aldez tequila cocktail recipes – lemons, limes, and oranges. Fresh mint is another ingredient included in many cocktails, so we suggest having that readily available. Many even choose to grow their own fresh mint in pots or a home garden.
Lastly, cherries are an oft-used garnish in a number of drinks, so we suggest keeping a jar of high-quality cocktail cherries nearby (note: not the neon red ones found in the ice cream aisle).
With these most common garnishes in your arsenal, we encourage you to experiment with other garnishes from your fridge or pantry – whether fresh fruit, herbs, or spices like nutmeg. You can really get creative with garnishes, and you may unlock a fresh flavor or set a trend of your own!
Now that you have your fully stocked bar, you have everything you need to begin making some of your favorite cocktails at home and even discover new favorites. Why not start by opening a bottle of Aldez and pouring a classic or creative margarita? Cheers!