We have done some posts about the basics for your bar, and this one is all about the top 5 liquors to stock your own bar. We’ve covered some Bar Tools and Bar Glasses so far and this one is going to round out the list.
Essentially, we’re going to want a selection of good liquors to build the greatest number of cocktails from. Which means to always these top 5 liquors to stock your home bar.
I’m primarily going to review the basics and focus on liquor. You can have all kinds of liqueurs, or more flavorful alcoholic options, but these are rarely consumed alone.
Many liqueurs are just too sweet. That doesn’t mean someone won’t sit down and knock back some Jägermeister straight. More power to them. Most cocktails however are going to require a basic liquor first to work from.
Rum is the liquor made from sugar cane. It’s not necessarily sweet but there’s a sugary component to it that is excellent to mix with citrus and other tart flavors. There’s a couple basic kinds that you may consider having on-hand. Some folks are sensitive to lower-quality rum and can get headaches by drinking a few shots of it (more than a few and probably anyone would get one). I prefer not to go too cheap on my rum.
Dark Rum has a heavier flavor of molasses and can really take the bite out of tart mixers. A strong ginger beer and some dark rum make an excellent Dark and Stormy.
Light Rum is the choice for most of your daiquiris, mojitos, and many other drinks, like our Holy Water! If I had to choose between the two, having a light rum in the bar is an absolute must-have.
Vodka is one of the most popular liquors and you’ll find it in hundreds of cocktails. It is incredibly versatile, and the flavor profile is fairly neutral, which lends strongly to its popularity. One of my favorite cocktails to go with is the simple Greyhound, some grapefruit juice and a healthy shot of vodka is very refreshing and goes down easy.
We begin a trek into some more complex liquor choices with gin. Gin, as you might not know starts out very similar to vodka, being a neutral (often grain-based) spirit. It undergoes a transformation with the addition of one or more herbal components like juniper, licorice, or any number of other ingredients. It could further be flavored in the aging process by choosing certain kinds of casks.
Cocktails with gin typically involve some citrus and sometimes some bubbles – like with a great summertime go to; the gin and tonic!
Gin isn’t to everyone’s tastes but the variety of choices out there is quite wide, and I’d guess that unless you find juniper absolutely revolting, there’s probably and gin for you!
Here’s a liquor with an even larger variety of flavor profiles. The cocktails you make with these tend to be sweet, to play off the strong flavors that most whiskey has. Some of the whiskey variants however can really buck that trend.
Bourbon is the sweeter of the whiskey lineup and is a great choice for the Old Fashioned. You’ll almost always see some bitters added into bourbon cocktails to introduce something to take the edge of the sweetness off.
This one gives you a bit more spiciness to your cocktails and while some prefer rye in an old fashioned, some like a peppery kick to the Manhattan that rye whiskey can give you.
I must admit I snuck this into the list for one very important reason. If you appreciate scotch as I do, you might find that it can be a very adventurous flavor in drinks where you might choose rye. Depending on your budget, I’d suggest getting a blended scotch, rather than single malt for your cocktails.
Finally, we have added tequila to this list, even though some might consider this a liqueur. Having been to Mexico a couple times, I have to tell you that there is a huge difference in the tequila we get in the US and the stuff you get down south of the border. Many express a preference for our northern version, but I myself just love the drink down there.
As you can imagine the difference comes down to good old United States regulations. In order to be sold in the US, tequila must have at least 40% alcohol. In Mexico, it can be as low was 35% and as high as 55%. Some of the best tequila I’ve had in Mexico is about 35%.
In this bartender’s opinion, only 100% blue agave tequila will do. There are certainly differences and you’ll know when you’ve tried tequila that isn’t 100% blue agave.
This is the “white” tequila you will likely find, where the bottle’s contents are quite clear. This kind of tequila isn’t aged for long and won’t be as smooth as the aged version. This is a great choice for your standard margarita and anywhere you’re making a tequila mixed drink with a strong mixer.
This tequila is aged and will have a more golden color than the Blanco. These are decently smooth drinking and can be taken straight up. This tequila makes a great cocktail choice where the mixer flavors you’re using are milder, so you can enjoy the more robust flavor profile.
Well, that’s it for my overview of the basic list of Top 5 Liquors to Stock Your Home Bar. Do you have a favorite whiskey that you never leave empty in your bar? What’s your take on tequila? Please share with us and any of your favorite cocktails! If we enjoy them we’ll be happy to share them and make sure you get mentioned!