What's Your Favorite and Why?
I'm finally getting my own place and I can finally get decent alcohol without worrying that my roommates will chug it before it even hits their tongues. I am of course aware that what some people may love is what other people may hate but at the very least I still need a place to start looking for the good tastes. So with that in mind, I want to know, what is your absolute favorite and available (I'm in Montgomery/PG County, MD) alcohol, whiskey, vodka, amaretto, brandy, tequila, international and why? Also if there's anything else you really insist I should try, please don't hold out!
in the category of easy to drink straight (or mixed):
an Italian amaro such as Averna, Nonino, or Nardini Amaro, or Mirto
a rich Malmsey madeira or sweet vermouth such as Vya
something lighter like Lillet Blanc or St Germain Elderflower liqueur
Amer Picon if you can find it
ok here's one more, since you asked for international: some iichiko shochu to mix 2:1 with Calpico (or Calpis) concentrate (from your local Japanese supermarket) to make a popular Japanese drink ("milk" martini)
As much as anything the key with a well stocked bar is what you do with it. The booze is an important starting point, but just as important is keeping some nice fresh lemons, limes, and other citrus around. Meyers Lemons or key limes if you see em grab em.
Most super premium brands or really pricey brands should be drunk neat, or on the rocks. If you are making a cocktail it is impossible to tell the difference between say Gray Goose Vodka and Svedka at 1/3 the price.
If you go top top shelf you could easily drop $500-1,000 setting up a basic bar. If you go good, but not crazy pricey, below, you can do it for much less.
- Jim Beam Black Bourbon (great bourbon reasonable price)
- Bowmore, Macallan (or Lagavullin if you want to splurge) Scotch
- Gordon's, or (spendier) Bombay or Tanqueray Gin
- White and Sweet Vermouth for Martini's and Manhattan's respectively
- Angostura Bitters
- Smirnoff Vodka (reasonably priced and well rated) for vodka, as it essentially all tastes the same I usually just get whatever good brand is on sale.
- Triple Sec or Gran Marnier if you like. This is kinda worth the upgrade.
- Whatever decent 100% Agave tequila your local has that won't break the bank
Rum, ahh rum, there are dozens worth keeping around:
- Brugal Anejo for sipping
- Any of the aged Barbancourt rums for sipping.
- Barrilito Three Star also for sipping if you can find it
- White Rum: for cocktails and mojitos if you can find it Don Q, alternatively Brugal, or in a pinch Bacardi
- A dark rum like Cruzan Dark, Goslings, Pussers, or Meyers for punches and the like
- Can't hurt to have a bottle of decent Cognac around. Remy Martin is not bad for ubiquitously available stuff. If you want to go crazy track down a bottle of Delmain Vesper. You'll love it but it will set you back quite a bit.
- Maraschino cherries
- Cocktail olives
Also take a cup of sugar, and a cup of water and heat in a saucepan until the sugar dissolves. You just mad yourself some simple syrup. Allow to cool (you don't want the jar to explode) store in a jar.
Whew, there, you've got your starter bar.
To StriperGuy's excellent recommendation, I would only add that if you can get a pound of sour cherries, it might be worthwhile to buy a bottle of Maraschino Liqueuer (the imported stuff) - and put the liquor and the cherries together with a tablespoon of that wonderful Amaretto that Striper suggested. Mix them all in a glass jar and put the jar in the back of the refrigerator for about a year. After that you can say goodbye forever to those flourescent maraschino cherries.
And for the times when you wish to entertain someone for dinner - don't forget to buy a case of your favorite white/red wines and possibly one or two bottles of champagne to put away.