My mom called me a few days before my birthday last week. “I’m sending you a package,” she said between slurps of Diet Dr Pepper. “Apologies in advance, because it’s heavy as hell.” The roughly 40-pound box arrived the next day. I lugged it up the stairs to my third-floor walkup, opened it up, and found a gift I never knew I needed: a bar cart. I assembled it, arranged it in my dining room, and stood back to admire the fruits of my labor. There was just one question: how do I stock this thing?
Don’t get me wrong; I love a cocktail, and I can whip up something semi-decent if necessary. But I hardly ever drink liquor at home, and my whiskey palate is sorely lacking. I’ve never needed a bar cart, but now that I have one, I’m a little unsure where to start.
Of course, I’ve already consulted our comprehensive guide to building a bar cart. I already have a few essential odds and ends, including:
• Charge your phone and watch simultaneously
• Wide compatibility with phones and watches
• Case friendly
My question for you is this: if I wish to transform into a savvy home bartender, what else do I need? Actually, let’s make it even more specific: what’s the one thing I need to acquire immediately to salvage this bar cart? It could be a cocktail ingredient, a gadget, a framed photo of Donn Beach—whatever I need to have a proper go at this thing.
Here are my recommendations:
1) 3 different bitters. I keep Cranberry, Grapefruit, and Angostura. Even if you don’t want to drink, a few dashes can add a little something to a seltzer or sparkling water without adding any measurable ABV
2) 2 or 3 liqueurs. I keep regular, non-food-dyed curacao, maraschino liqueur, and creme de violet. I like curacao over triple sec because curacao has a bitterness that cuts the pure sweet of triple sec, and Grand Marnier is made with brandy and so it doesn’t always go with everything.
3) Get a quality, but non-fancy, whiskey or bourbon. Something that’s not too expensive, but not a well bourbon either. Even if you don’t like whiskeys, there’s a good chance that someone who doesn’t like tequila or gin will like a Manhattan or an Old Fashioned.
–Don’t keep syrups on your bar cart unless they are store bought and have preservatives in them. Even in the fridge, syrups can pick up mold over time.
–Don’t get Rose’s lime or lemon juice. For one, they have lots of sugar and so using them interchangeably with normal citrus juice will just result in an overly sweet drink. Also, they’re pretty one-note when it comes to flavor
-If you are going to be using your gin for martinis, just keep it in the freezer instead.