hendricks post

Thirsty Thursdays: Building your home bar, Pt. I

Jun 20, 2013
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Last week we examined some of the favorite bottles to give to dad on Father’s Day. The rambling sparked an idea–I would like to help you build your home bar. If you don’t have a place for the bottles, I suggest you build a shelf. Booze is important in your home because it helps you relax and allows you to drink alone on occasion—and there’s nothing like drinking alone. Your pace isn’t hindered by some lightweight. You don’t have a barkeep giving you the stink eye after asking for another shot. And there’s no line for the bathroom.

I have a “drink cart” that my lady friend gave me for my birthday. It looks like it’s from the ’40s, something a bellhop would wheel into Sam Spade’s hotel room right before he breaks a case wide open. On it I have the ingredients to make just about anything. Right now I only have some of the cheapest gin, tequila, and rum on the market, but we’ll play the “do as I say, not as I do” game in this case.

This week we’ll start with clear liquors before moving into the colored stuff and then eventually we’ll settle on liqueurs, bitters, and tools.

Vodka

If you read me at all you know I have a subdued contempt for vodka. It’s tasteless and boring, not much different than a Dane Cook standup routine. But people drink it for this very reason. And the ladies love it. That Cook analogy is gold, Jerry. You won’t need much of this. Just enough to let vodka drinkers know you don’t want to neglect them.

Grey Goose: It’s the safe choice. Everyone knows it and the frosty bottle looks cool. You need a crowd pleaser even if the second bottle on this list is better people want a name they can recognize.

Sobieski: It’s inexpensive, but well-made, and when you put it with cranberry no one is going to tell the difference.

Gin

I’ve touched on my affection for gin before. Nothing is better than gin and rocks in the summertime. There are numerous refreshing summer cocktails made with this spirit so it’s a must for your home bar. I could probably stock an entire bar with gin, a la Scofflaw in Chicago, a favorite cocktail spot of mine that focuses on gin-based drinks. There is a sophistication in the spirit, perhaps owing to its historical background in England. Those English and their accents are so bloody regal.

Tanqueray: They make this London Dry in Scotland now. I would imagine William Wallace would rank that high on the list of victories. And if this gin is good enough for Duck Phillips it’s good enough for me.

Bombay Sapphire: I had to put this on the list for this reason: my dad’s friend always claims that if he were on a desert island, he would only need a bottle of Bombay because it has 10 botanicals that would sustain him indefinitely. Seems logical enough to me and the bottle is brilliant.

Hendrick’s: This is different enough from the first two, with a touch of citrus and that bright cucumber flavor, to diversify the collection. Just a nip of tonic on top and a fresh slice of cucumber and you’ll be humming Will Smith’s “Summertime” before you know it. I don’t know why I just made that reference.

Few Spirits Barrel Aged Gin: Now we could go with an Old Tom Gin or a Genever here but I would prefer this on the table. It’s wildly different and practically brand new. The bottle and history of the name add for good conversation pieces. I know it sounds crazy, but booze should be fun. And there’s nothing more fun than a good story that accompanies a bottle of booze.

See you next week when we’ll take a look at rum and tequila.

Kenneth Griggs is a writer and bartender living in Chicago, IL. He has hitchhiked through the Australian Outback; lived in a small fishing village in Japan; climbed Mount Kilimanjaro; and ran with the bulls in Pamplona. He spent six years as a feature writer for a daily and weekly newspaper and has two unpublished novels to his name. But his finest accomplishment is not yet sprouting a gin blossom nose.