Back to Basics
Our first experiences of cocktails in the mid-1990’s (both in front of and behind the bar) are a world apart from the cocktails we enjoy today. We can’t remember when our tastes changed exactly but we think it had something to do with a transatlantic cruise on the Queen Mary 2 to New York back in 2009. After appreciating a range of quality spirits and the carefully blended flavours of hand-crafted drinks, our ‘home bar’ began to grow alongside an increasing desire to visit more cocktail bars!
Building your drinks cabinet at home can be a daunting task; so many cocktails with so many ingredients. Like most people, we couldn’t just go out and empty the off-licence in a one-off spending spree. We started off with some quality vodka, some frequently used liqueurs and, with some readily available mixers from the supermarket and a cheap stainless steel Manhattan Shaker, we were ready to get mixing. A large jam jar (with lid) or some Tupperware can act as a perfectly good shaker, however. Just make sure you have lots of ice in the freezer.
Early ‘house favourites’ were the Vodka Martini and a Ginger Cosmopolitan; needing just four alcoholic ingredients (Vodka, Vermouth, Citron Vodka, Cointreau), cranberry juice, fresh lime juice, fresh ginger and a few olives. Over the years, as our repertoire and cabinet expanded, we have the capacity to create a larger number of drinks.
However, Difford’s Guide states that with just 14 key ingredients, a few mixers and some fresh fruit for garnishes, you can make 500 different cocktails!
According to them, these key ingredients are:
Vodka, Gin. Rum (white), Tequila, Scotch Whisky, Cognac, Bourbon, Triple Sec (Cointreau), Orange Liqueur (Grand Marnier), Apricot Liqueur, Berry Liqueur (Chambord), Dry Vermouth, Sweet Vermouth, Champagne.
When it comes to buying spirits, don’t buy cheap but instead seek out a good brand on special offer! With a good vodka or gin in your cabinet, you have the base for many great tasting cocktails. Go for something like Ketel One or Absolut Vodka. For gin, try Tanqueray, Hendrick’s or Sipsmith Gin. And once you have the basics and have had a play around you can start to expand your portfolio.
There is a huge range of spirits out there, which we can discover together in future posts… Alternatively, a great way to find a spirit that suits your own taste is to visit quality cocktail bars and try out new drinks.
Wherever you are on your journey, have fun with your creations. Enjoy your cocktails responsibly but always with panache!go back