These days, mixology is no longer an obscure science: Tricks of the trade are as easy as adding limoncello to your whiskey sour mix or rounding up some vodka and ginger beer and giving it a citrus garnish. Mixology, the awesome friend you were once so intimidated by, is now your newest drinking buddy. But let’s face it, no matter how much easier it may be to craft your drink theoretically, the chances that you have a Don Draper-style stocked bar cart, or the know-how to get around it, remain unlikely. But that doesn’t have to be the case!
When building the liquor portion of your home bar, it’s as simple as “starting with your favorite drink and exploring different ingredients,” says Paul Maloney, who co-owns Kingston’s craft cocktail haven, Stockade Tavern, with Jenny Vis and the building owner, Don Johnson.
As the bar builds, so will the accouterments. Maloney encourages starting with basic bitters like Angostura Bitters, Angostura Orange, and Peychaud’s Bitters. Once you’ve got those, don’t be afraid of exploring more artisanal options. “Bitters are to cocktails what salt is to food,” explains Vis. “They extract flavors and brighten up… If you add too much salt to a dish, you can overpower the flavor, and that’s why dashes of bitters are also carefully added, as to not overpower the cocktail.”
RELATED: Smoke Signal Cocktail Recipe
Vermouths are a must, too, but have a shorter shelf life than most ingredients. They only tend to last for three weeks, if refrigerated. Maloney advises to get smaller bottles of dry or sweet Vermouth to ensure nothing goes wasted.
A bigger part of creating an at-home bar begins with gathering all the tools and modifiers you need for expert mixing. Start with a classic shaker tin, a jigger (a measuring vessel), a stirring utensil, strainer, juicer, a good paring knife, and a pint glass. When stocking up, the gear “should look good,” says Vis. Let your personality shine and create a bar that fits your style; you’ll be more apt to use it.
And the most important advice? Always have good ice! Both Maloney and Vis insist that fresh ice helps “waterize” the cocktail by diffusing the bite of the alcohol and allowing one’s palate to actually taste the flavors.
Now that you’re building up a bar cart, improve your cocktail repertoire with this easy-to-mix recipe provided by Stockade:
Makes one drink
2 oz white rum (Ron Matusalem recommended)
1 oz unsweetened pineapple juice
3⁄4 oz fresh lime juice
1⁄2 oz orgeat syrup
1⁄4 oz apricot brandy (Marie Brizard recommended)
1 dash Angostura Bitters
Shake and strain into a coupe glass. Drink, then rejoice.