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Feb 8, 2007 01:41 PM

Do you have a "Liquor Cabinet"

I recall reading a book by Baldwin written during the 1950s where virtually every character it seemed had a drink in their hand at all times. As portrayed in this book folks from this generation apparently, once entering someone’s home (for example) were first asked for their coat then asked, “Can I get you a drink?!” And thinking back to my grandparent’s home they did have liquor about the house (and a lot). And not just for parties or other gatherings, no, whenever we came by (mom, dad, and my sister) J&B, Old Granddad, VO, were on the coffee table as plain as a TV Guide or a framed photograph. And they had a liquor cabinet, the real kind with the grating that you can see through, and it had a lock (but it never was locked). My dad had a less impressive liquor cabinet in our house where he kept his scotch and few other goodies. But eventually he stopped using it and instead starting keeping beer in the “frig”. He’d keep 8oz “nips” (as he called them) of Budweiser at the bottom of the refrigerator. I started grabbing one or two in high school, (there were so many in there, he couldn’t keep count). Today, I do not have a liquor cabinet in my house. Instead I try to keep a case of wine and a case of beer in the basement and maybe a decent whisky upstairs. Many of my friends do the same. What do you do? And have you ever said to a friend who stops by unexpectedly, “can I get you a drink?”

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  1. I think I am inhabited by a ghost from the past, but yeah, a liquor cabinet was necessary once I got to the point of being able to comfortably support a decent one. Ours is from Ikea with a nicer wine cabinet beside it that holds all tool and non-refrigerated tools on the top.

    I think it's key to good hosting, and you do need a wide variety of options, and at least one good book. Drinkology is the one that I reference most often along with Mr. Bostons.

    I always ask about a drink for guests, but ALWAYS throw out non-alcoholic drink options and say something along the lines of "ask and I'll see what I can do". On this point, by getting it out of the way, you're saying that you want to get particulars out of the way and enjoy the company.

    One side anecdote is that for my wife's grad party a few years ago, I researched a few fun drinks of all flavors/styles. I then bought all the stuff for a few select recipes. I printed up recipe cards for the guests and laid them on the bar. From those ingredients more things could be made, but I dared others to try some things. It went over very well.

    As for what's in the cabinet, I'd say that mainly depends on you and the bulk of your guests. Excel, explore and keep in plenty what you're into (scotches, whiskeys or vodkas) and keep on hand a strong representation of the other categories.

    As for how it looks and what it is, I'd say that depends on your lifestyle. If you're still young and without kids, invest in something that you'll use a lot for a few short years, again after a while, and then become an heirloom. Otherwise, go to Ikea.

    As for where it is, it's part of the dining room, family room, or if needed, kitchen.

    1. A liquor cabinet...or cupboard, or closet...always have on hand gin, vodka, bourbon or whiskey. I often make my own cordials or liquers, but sambuca and something sweeter's always nice...and I don't have a wine cellar but there's a good-sized rack that's stocked. Bitters, vemouth, sherry, port...I like to keep Dubonnet around, or Campari, too....Beer in the fridge (just a sixpack of some import). Aged tequila (hey, we're in the southwest!) for sipping.

      1. Absolutely! I would always offer a friend a drink. We have a liquor cabinet/expandable bar upstairs, and one in the basement (seldom used). The upstairs bar opens up and is on rollers so you can spin it around and roll it out away from the wall with all the back open, allowing access to the goods. We got it online from Pottery Barn. It was a bit pricey, but well worth it. Items stocked include a few Bourbons (top shelf and for mixing grade), Scotch, a couple of Irish Whiskeys, Cognac, Brandy, Vodka, Gin, Sweet and Dry Vermouth, Bitters, Simple Syrup, Tequila, Triple Sec, Rum (light and dark), many liqueurs and cordials for after dinner or coktail mixing, Red Wines, and a garage fridge stocked with many beers and a few white wines ready for a meal or visitors. You never know what you're going to want to mix up on a Friday night, or when the opportunity might arise for you to exercise your inner bar-chef for your friends!

        1. My daddy always kept quite an extensive liquor cabinet, and friends were always offered drinks. In fact, I do not remember my parents ever having more than one other couple over when liquor was not served. My mom wasn't a drinker; Daddy made Pink Squirrels for her, and we kids were thrilled that sometimes we were allowed to taste that - what basically amounted to grown up ice cream. As the years went on, my mom developed a taste for wine (starting with disgustingly sweet stuff in the late 70s or early 80s and now finally a good chardonnay, merlot, or occasionally cabernet).

          My husband and I don't really drink much. I tend to feel not-so-good anymore if I have much of anything to drink (primarily due to my blood sugar, I'm sure, for which I take medication.) When he drinks, he usually prefers beer; he loves Newcastle Brown Ale. Most of our friends don't really drink, either, and most of the time we get together, alcohol is never even considered. Every once in a while, we will decide we're going to have a drink, but it's just not our general way of life. I love gin & tonics with lots of lime, but my sugar issues are an impediment to that. :( The last time I really, really wanted one, my husband made one for me in a juice glass, not even full, and I only drank half before I felt a pretty serious buzz! Pitiful! (I recently purchased some juniper berries so I could make myself something that tasted like my G&Ts without the alcohol.)

          Of course, we always say, "Can I get you something to drink?" when we have people in our home. But that is never meant as alcohol by us, and it's never taken that way by others.

          All that said, we have a pretty extensive liquor cabinet! I think it's just growing up with that notion that grownups are supposed to have liquor in the house, and plenty of it! Some of it is over 20 years old - should it be thrown out? - given to us by my parents when they moved or something & didn't want to haul it with them. Some of it was given to us as housewarming or other types of gifts over the years. The other day, I used peach brandy that I know without a doubt is at least 20 years old in my peach cobbler. (Everyone who ate it seems to be fine.)

          I’m glad this post came up because I was going to inventory my liquor cabinet for recipes, to answer my father & step-father when they ask what I’ve got, etc. This got me moving on that.

          My cabinet, including things I am not sure at all of what they are:

          1.75 litre:
          1 bottle + another 750 ml Bacardi rum (I sure wish I'd known I had the 750 when I bought the 1.75. It was during a kick of "we're going to get together with our friends and make a whole bunch of different kinds of daiquiris in our ice cream makers")
          unopened Crown Royal

          1 litre:
          unopened Crown Royal (fairly new; was gift)
          praline liqueur – my 2nd bottle, intentionally purchased, specifically for a recipe I make frequently
          amaretto di padrino
          Crème de cacao
          Crème de banana

          750 ml:
          Torado triple sec that appears to be unopened.
          an unopened Sauza Conmemorativo Tequila, gift from Mexico
          2 bottles, 1 unopened, Harveys Bristol cream. I had no idea what it was, but I see it says sherry, so I guess I can cook with it.
          Glenfiddich pure malt scotch whiskey
          Taaka platinum
          White Label Dewar's scotch whisky, unopened
          2 unopened in tins/boxes and 1 opened Chivas Regal
          Pepe Lopez tequila
          Pimm’s No.1 Cup, gift from my SIL’s mom
          Peach Brandy & Blackberry brandy, both bottles quite ancient
          orange curacao


          Courvoisier VS cognac (a gift from Daddy, getting up in age and occasionally used for my tipsy sauce for my bread pudding)

          3/4 pint (375ml?) bottle Hiram Walker Creme de Menthe that is absolutely ancient, certainly either from my childhood or very young adulthood. The price tag is still on it - $2.17.

          Godiva liqueur that we got when my mom moved (I use generally in baking and sometimes when someone peeks in my liquor cupboard and sees it and says, "Yum!")

          Various things of various sizes:
          An ancient unopened bottle of Prince Charles Edward's Drambuie - 23/32 Quart, whatever that is.

          Beefeater gin - almost empty 200 ml :)

          Liquore Galliano of Dilta Arturo Vaccari? No idea what this stuff is.

          Goldschlager cinnamon schnapps

          I recently threw out a bottle of some kind of green melon liqueur that I felt no one I knew would ever have a use for.

          I also have wine, some good & some I wouldn't ever drink. Probably 3 or 4 good bottles of merlot or cabernet and then a few crummy bottles of things like white zinfandel that well-intentioned visitors have bestowed upon us. I have a few fairly disgusting-looking champagnes. And a bottle of Moet & Chandon champagne as well as a Moet & Chandon 1983 Dom Perignon.

          I think that about covers my liquor cabinet. Not bad for a non-drinker, eh?!

          9 Replies
          1. re: luv2bake

            For some unknown reason Liquore Galliano of Dilta Arturo Vaccari finds itself to every bar known to man but no one ever drinks it apparently. I see the long bottle with the thick yellow liquid inside with the little Italian soldier on the label in virtually every bar and in the homes of my parents friends from time in memorial. I think it's like a yellow sambuca.

            1. re: luv2bake

              Galliano is an herbal liqueur. The most notable cocktail that it goes into is the Harvey Wallbanger, a mix of vodka, OJ, and Galliano.

              And incidentally, Drambuie is a Scotch-based honey liqueur. It is used in a Rusty Nail, a mix of Scotch and Drambuie.

              1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

                I kind of knew what Drambuie was, but my "whatever that is" comment was directed at the 23/32 quart, which is a designation I have never seen on a product before! Thank you for the info on the Harvey Wallbanger & Rusty Nail, too. Have often heard both but had no idea what they were.

                1. re: luv2bake

                  Prior to a world-wide agreement on bottle sizes, bottles of wine and spirits sold in the States were generally a "fifth" and a "tenth" (4/5 quart, and 4/5 pint, respectively).

                  HOWEVER, many liqueurs were indeed sold in 23 ounce bottles (23/32 quart). Champagne was sold in 26 ounce bottles. And so on.

                  Today, international agreements have pretty much standardized wines and spirits to be sold in 750ml and375ml bottles.

                  4/5 quart is 25.6 ounces. 750ml is 25.4 ounces -- pretty close.

                  1. re: zin1953

                    I'll have to see if I can find when that was. My bottle of Drambuie might be older than I thought! :)

                2. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

                  Galliano is also used in an International Stinger;
                  2 oz. Metaxa Greek brandy, preferably 5 or 7star
                  3/4 oz. Galliano
                  shake well with ice and pour over rocks in an old-fashioned glass.
                  Not recommending, just tellin' :-)

                3. re: luv2bake

                  have you tried diet tonic? it might help you enjoy gin and tonics again...

                  1. re: MaspethMaven

                    Diet tonic water is a staple in my house - that & limes. It's just not quite the same without the gin, though I try to fake it. Alcohol just messes with my body too much now, and it's not worth it.

                    I did, however, put my juniper berries to work last week. It wasn't 100% what I wanted, but it was a step in the right direction. I'll be experimenting to see how I can improve upon it. It made me happy to have my pretend G&T, though!

                  2. re: luv2bake

                    I also have a bottle of pecan liquor (unopened). I would love your recipe!

                  3. Anytime any friend or family member enters my house, they would be offered a drink (alcoholic or non-alcoholic).

                    We do not have a liquor cabinet per se, but our home is always well stocked with everything we deem essential: beer, wine (red, white and sparkling), vodka, bourbon, gin, tequila, vermouth, cointreau, grand marnier, kahlua, baileys... And if we know we are having company or will be making cocktails for ourselves, we will be sure to have lemons, limes, cocktail onions, and olives on hand.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: cherie

                      Hey, I just realized I had grand marnier & Baileys not that long ago. Hmmm ... I wonder if there's a liquor stash I forgot about...!?