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Mixers, Water, Ice and Glasses

All of the ingredients in a cocktail contribute to the experience.


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Old 12-22-2012, 11:53 PM   #1
SlowRain
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Question Need some help starting a minimalist home bar

I'm looking to start a very modest home bar. Most of what I want will be rum-based, but if it can be carried over to whiskey or gin then that's a plus. I'm a minimalist by nature and would like to keep things basic and natural (I've proved I can do this with my other hobbies). I don't mind paying for good quality, but I dislike paying excessively for rarity, so I may not go for those kinds of ingredients. Also, I'm limited in what I can get over here, but post away and I'll worry about finding it.

Two questions:

1. What basic equipment should be in every home bar?

2. What basic ingredients should be in every home bar (styles of rums too)?

Assume I have nothing and that I'm an idiot and have no idea about mixing drinks--which is true, by the way.

Last edited by SlowRain; 12-24-2012 at 12:31 AM.
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Old 12-23-2012, 01:09 PM   #2
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1. Well, there are a variety of different barware that every bar should have. The bare minimum for a home bar should include

2-piece or 3-piece shaker
strainer
bar spoon (a spoon with a long handle and small bowl designed for stirring)
stemmed cocktail glasses
old fashioned/rocks glasses
some form of highball glass
wine goblets

After those you can start branching out into items like muddlers, a lime/lemon juice squeezer, bottle cap opener, champagne flutes, snifters etc. Good place to buy items on the cheap would be to check out a local Goodwill or Salvation Army store. You'd be surprised how many high quality items you can find there.

2. As for spirits/liquors to buy we'd need more information? Are there cocktails in particular that you appreciate? Are you going for classic or modern cocktails? What brands have you tried and enjoy? To this level I'm going to refrain from suggesting brands of spirits to buy and stick more to the general items.

My general advice for a starting bar is "buy everything you need for a Long Island Iced Tea" and branch out from there according to what interests you, such as the rum and whiskey focus you mentioned. That would be:

Vodka
(white) Tequila
Gin
White/Light Rum
Triple Sec

to this I'd also add

Brandy
Bourbon + Rye Whiskey
Amber Rum (examples include Mount Gay & Doorly's)
Dark Rum (examples include Bacardi 8, Appleton v/x or higher, Cruzan Dark. I don't include Gosling's and Cruzan Blackstrap in this catagory due to excessive molasses focus, but add them in if you like tiki cocktails)

Some mixers/juices needed at a bare minimum would include

Sugar (preferably cubes)
Salt
Limes
Lemons
Orange Juice
Pineapple Juice (preferably in the small 6oz cans)
Cranberry Juice
Bitters (Angostura at a minimum, preferably also Orange and Peychaund bitters)
Grenadine
French (white) and Italian (red) Vermouth - Martini & Rossi comes out with 375mL sizes for a good price and reasonable quality

The rest is really subjective. You mentioned Rum and Whiskey as things you particularly enjoy. What type of whiskeys do you like? What rum have you had? What budget are you on, and what are prices like in your region? I and probably many others can give more detailed advice after getting more information. But at the minimum this list gives you the bases for making most classic cocktails with fudge rules written in - example substituting Triple Sec for Grand Marnier/Cointreau.

Hope this helps!
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Old 12-23-2012, 11:41 PM   #3
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Thanks, MajinGohan, for your reply. I feel you forgot to apply the advice in the last line of my original post, but I'll try to answer your questions as best I can.

I haven't experimented much with cocktails or mixing. I enjoy Appleton 12-year-old and Coke at home, and when I (oh so rarely) have a drink in a lounge, it's usually a Black Russian. I tried a Mojito and thought it was pretty decent. That's not to say I wouldn't like other cocktails, I just haven't tried them.

For starters, I'm going to nix a lot of drinks using fruit juice (except lemon and orange because they're in ample supply here) and, for the sake of space, anything with tequila. I live in a small Asian apartment--which I should have mentioned at the outset--so this little project has to be kept...well...little.

I'm not in a hurry to buy a bottle of vodka, either, but it is an ingredient in a Black Russian. I've heard there was a kind (brand?) of rum that was specifically designed as a vodka substitute. Does anyone know about that and how well it works as such? Or am I just better off getting the vodka?

Gin and whisk(e)y can be added, but at most only one of each, and they'll have to serve the dual role of mixing and sipping. The Angostura bitters certainly seem doable, as does a bottle of Triple Sec if it's fairly universal.

Right now I have a bottle of Havana Club Anejo Especial and an unopened bottle of Kahlua. Assume I'd like to keep this whole thing to under 10 bottles, and the fewer the better. Size is more important than budget. I don't have to buy the absolute cheapest bottle of any given thing, but I have to bow out when things start to get too rare. As for what's available and prices, you can check out this thread to get a bit of an idea for now: http://www.ministryofrum.com/forums/...9549#post49549
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Old 12-24-2012, 01:24 AM   #4
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In hindsight, the title of this thread was poorly chosen. Not only is it subjective, but it implies anything other than what I have mentioned may be immodest. Perhaps a better title would have used the word "minimalist". Unfortunately, I'm unable to change it now. I apologize.
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Old 12-24-2012, 02:05 AM   #5
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I might add a muddler too.
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Old 12-24-2012, 02:57 PM   #6
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I'll attempt to address you line by line in your response SR.

1. Sorry about that. I know you mentioned to approach it like you're just beginning a bar (which you are) but this topic as a definition is subjective, like you mentioned in the second post. The best I could try to do is give some general advice regarding a starting bar won from my experience owning my own, and having a home bar. Some spirits are used in many cocktails, and some rarely, so it's easy to make mistakes in terms of purchasing. I certainly have.

2. It's fine that you haven't have much experience with alot of cocktails - everyone has to start somewhere! And Appleton 12 y.o. is a great start in terms of dark rums - my second favorite if being totally honest.

3. I honestly don't drink alot of tequila either, so I can understand leaving it out of a starting bar. The list I gave at the beginning was for a starting bar that has enough flexibility in it that you can pretty much look up any simple cocktail mentioned here or on other sites and have the basic components on hand and at most would have to pick up one or two other things to buy, or substitute for.

Oh, and do buy limes. A bar without both lemons AND limes is like a silverware set where you need to choose between spoons and forks. One or the other are essential components to pretty much 80% of all cocktails in existence. For example just take your rum and coke and squeeze half a lime in it. Drink. Then come here and thank me.

4. I've never heard of that brand of rum, but as a precaution I'd advise you to avoid looking for it or drinking it at all costs. Vodka and (light) rum are in their very nature fundamentally different spirits, one made from grains and the other sugar cane or a derivative. A vodka with rum properties wouldn't be as flexible in cocktails and would overpower any drink you'd use it in, and a rum with vodka properties would best be described as being insipid. I've never heard of a cocktail where you could use one or the other in it and not comes out with a wide variance of drink, with the exception of just throwing one or the other into coke and chugging it frat boy style. The mental image of that type of spirit causes the hair on the back of my neck to stand up. I can't tell you enough to avoid... avoid... AVOID using rum and vodka as interchangeable for anything other than experimentation.

5. Well, this is rather straight-forward. Buy Buffalo Trace/Maker's Mark and Bombay Sapphire for your whiskey and gin respectively. Common enough to be everywhere and flexible enough for sipping or mixing, though in all honestly I don't know of many people who just sip gin sans cocktail, but hell, people might like their martinis drier than I do. *shrug*

6. Well, after I've said all this I'm going to contradict myself a bit. To be blunt the best advice I or all but the true geniuses here can probably give you is to go to the bar more often and try new things. If your purpose is to experiment with looking up new cocktails online or mixing new things, I'll stand by each and every choice I mentioned in my original post with different examples of great drinks which need various ingredients in them to make the cocktail a complex delight to enjoy on a day off or after work. In my opinion the joy of a spirit is only half in the nature of the spirit itself, but more in the joy of mixing different flavors together to create a new taste entirely. If you don't have alot of experience with specific cocktails then go out and try new ones. Walk into a bar and just point to a random entry and request it. Make a search online for "top ten cocktails" and try a couple a week. There are going to be some you don't like that much and some that you'll love, and after that all you'd need to do is to buy the few specific ingredients for those you like, and there is sure to be plenty of overlap between them so your home bar won't grow beyond your ability to contain.

In summary, the only way to really learn what to buy is learn what you like. As is I'd recommend the only things you should buy that I've picked up you can really jump into is Maker's Mark and more Appleton 12 y.o. and if you can't find more of the latter Havana Club will do. But that isn't what you were really going for I figure, since you have curiosity about new spirits. So I repeat my advice of just going and experimenting. Drinking shouldn't be a chore or an escape, but an experience. Go forth and learn young padawan!
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Old 12-25-2012, 01:28 AM   #7
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Thanks. I appreciate your candor and experience, so I hope you don't mind my overly basic questions.

I didn't mean to pass off limes so casually, and I did say to recommend anything and let me worry about local availability. Apparently, the Taiwanese don't feel limes are distinguishable enough from lemons--either that or else they just don't like the flavor--so it's almost impossible to find them. There is an older area in my city near the train station that caters to Southeast Asian foreign laborers, so I'll go there and have a look around.

I accidentally stumbled across a local online liquor vendor who sells Maker's Mark. I can consider that. Is there just one that they offer, or do they have different grades? (However, I should note that Scotch is heavily marketed here, so I may have more luck finding something good there.)

As far as making more trips to the bar goes, what you suggest for one week is kind of what I do in a year, but I can try a little harder in that regard.

I updated my other thread with a couple more rums if anyone here has some free time over the holidays.
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Old 12-27-2012, 08:17 PM   #8
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It looks like everyone missed the proper glassware for neat whisky and rum. I drink all my whisky and rums neat, and the right glass helps nose it. I like the glencairn and distillers copita.
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Old 01-11-2013, 09:20 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MajinGohan View Post

4. I've never heard of that brand of rum, but as a precaution I'd advise you to avoid looking for it or drinking it at all costs. Vodka and (light) rum are in their very nature fundamentally different spirits, one made from grains and the other sugar cane or a derivative. A vodka with rum properties wouldn't be as flexible in cocktails and would overpower any drink you'd use it in, and a rum with vodka properties would best be described as being insipid. I've never heard of a cocktail where you could use one or the other in it and not comes out with a wide variance of drink, with the exception of just throwing one or the other into coke and chugging it frat boy style. The mental image of that type of spirit causes the hair on the back of my neck to stand up. I can't tell you enough to avoid... avoid... AVOID using rum and vodka as interchangeable for anything other than experimentation.
I now know which rum it was and where I saw it. It's Ron Matusalem Platino, and I read about it as a vodka substitute here.
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Old 01-11-2013, 02:24 PM   #10
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Ah, thanks for finding that. It pretty much confirms what I thought about a spirit like that though. It's better to have a good vodka and a good rum than one which seems mediocre at both.
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