From the Golden Age, through Prohibition, to the swinging sixties and beyond, the cocktail has always been the height of sophistication. Agent 007 sips on martinis in every action-packed Bond movie ever made.
The Mojito makes everybody’s holiday in the sun that much more enjoyable. A meal could be considered incomplete without a negroni to either kick things off or round up proceedings. And a Monday night wouldn’t be a Monday night in the absence of a Manhattan to help celebrate being back at work for the week! Okay, the latter may be a stretch. But just like diamonds, cocktails are forever.
But trends are cyclical. The bartender has been replaced by the Mixologist in many a flash cocktail bar, but the cocktail revolution has gone 360◦ and classics are now the new kids on the block (simple is best; they are classics for a reason, I guess). And the cocktail is no longer reserved for when we head out to our favourite bar, with a variety of delicious concoctions now commonplace in the home. Which means that every domestic bar curator needs to grab a hold of a few basic bits and bobs so that you can mix up a perfect storm of drinks in front of the fire in your living room rather than having to venture out into the city lights on a Friday night!
Start with the hardware - the things that every cocktail cabinet cannot do without. Once you get started you’ll never stop, so best invest early on so that when you get the urge for a daiquiri you have all the essentials at hand….the list below should be a good starting point!
Boston Shaker, Double sided jigger (which means you get the measures just right in your favourite tipple), Julep strainer, Hawthorn Strainer (your martinis need to be crystal clear!), cocktail spoon, cobbler shaker (two shakers are better than one!!), paring knife, small kitchen knife, muddler, ice bucket and tongs, old-school waiters friend (for opening the beer you’ll need whilst mixing up drinks for your guests), citrus reamer, citrus juicer and a steady hand!
If you follow these simple steps hopefully we can help to break down some of the myths and mystiques that lie within the bottle that you’re about to pull the cork out of (or more often twist the cap off!). This will allow you to savour your bottle, and give yourself a high five on the other side for making such a great choice in your vinous selection!
You can get pretty creative with your glassware but at the very least, all good cocktail cabinets should start off with some classics. You’ll need a few martini glasses, a couple of rocks glasses, an array of highballs, some brandy snifters and a couple of all-purpose quality wine glasses.
Once your cupboards are full of the hardware, it’s time to grab the spirits. You’re going to need a bit of space, but once you’ve got them in the cupboard the cocktail world is your oyster. You’ll need:
Rum, Vodka, Gin, Blended Whisky, Triple Sec, Bourbon, Tequila, Brandy, Campari, Kahlua, Grand Marnier, Vermouth (both Sweet and Dry) andAmaretto for when an Amaretto Sours comes calling.
As well as the spirits you’ll need some flavouring and condiment treats to give your home made cocktails that final touch of class. Orange and Angostura Bitters, Tobasco, Maraschino Cherries, Worcestershire Sauce, Olives and Gomme (sugar Syrup) are key embellishments.
Next you’ll need and array of Juices and soft drinks. Without going too heavy, the following are must-haves: soda, tonic, cola, lemonade, ginger ale and ginger beer. Essential fruit juices include orange, grapefruit, cranberry, tomato and pineapple.
We’re almost there now. Grab a few lemons, some limes, some oranges and some mints for you garnishes and hey presto, you’ve got yourself your own readymade cocktail cabinet at home!