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Aug 6, 2009 01:42 PM

My Thoughts On a Starter Bar

Feel free to add. I created this as part of another post, but thought it deserved it's own thread:

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.

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  1. On further consideration, not sure if I would recommend the Cruzan Dark, nice, but not quite rummy enough. Swap in Lemon Hart Demerara instead.

    1. Whoops, nearly forgot, Luxardo Amaretto blows away the D'Saronno.

      2 Replies
      1. re: StriperGuy

        Correct me if I'm wrong but I'd mark you as a rum fan ;). I don't even have a rum in my cupboard at this point but you list several but only one bourbon and no rye.

        I'd add a rye like Old Overholt

        1. re: dhs

          Heck I agree with old Overholt for sure. Heck throw in some Buffalo Trace Bourbon and maybe some Makers as well. I like Bourbon and Rye just fine. In fact I am just as likely to have bourbon on the rocks for a night out. But I seldom feel the need to go beyond Jim Beam Black for sipping and white for mixing. Rum's vary SO much that I feel several are appropriate. With one decent rye and one or two Bourbon's you're not going to commit any atrocious oversight (be prepared for bourbon fiends to howl here).

      2. Accept for that long list of rums, all very good selections.

        And I point out the rums because that many suggestions seem a bit much for a "starter" bar.

        To keep with that theme, since you seem to be a knowledgeable fan, if you had to pick just one rum for a starter bar, which would it be?

        1 Reply
        1. re: Canadian Tuxedo

          Hmmm, good point. As I said above Rums vary a LOT.

          I guess I would go as follows:

          - Don Q for mojitos etc
          - Brugal Anejo for sipping
          - Gosling's for Dark and Stormy's and rum punch type drinks.

          When I make a daiquiri I might go 2 oz Don Q with a dash of goslings for a bit more flavor.

        2. Grand Marnier is not the upgraded triple sec; Cointreau is. Grand Marnier is brandy based, and therefore has a different flavor profile than triple sec. Incidentally, Cointreau *is* a triple sec, they've just done enough marketing that people think it's a fancier orange liqueur than triple sec, much like how DiSaronno is currently doing with their amaretto.

          My favorite for white rum is Cruzan. It has a nice flavor profile, and costs less than Bacardi.

          Want to bump up your maraschino cherries? Make your own. Get frozen dark cherries, thaw them out, and soak them in maraschino liqueur. And if you make simple syrup with pomegranate juice, you have grenadine. I like to add a few drops of red food coloring to make it a little more vivid.

          And boy do I wish people around here carried Lemon Hart! That's good stuff.

          5 Replies
          1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

            nice idea on the can also get Amarena Fabbri dark cherries on

            1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

              Have to agree with Grence on the Cointreau. Grand Marnier, due to the brandy element, isn't as versatile as a triple sec.

              For a starter bar, Marie Brizzard would also be a fine triple sec to consider.

              And triple sec is definitely something worth upgrading. I think we probably all agree that having no triple sec would be a better option than the sugary cheapo triple secs!

              I think Beefeater is a good stand-by gin. Plymouth used to be, then got expensive.

              Finally, fully agree on the vodka. I think that really needs to be hammered into people's heads sometimes. "I'll have a Grey Goose and Red Bull" = dolt. Skyy is also fairly inexpensive, and does a fine job of doing what vodka is supposed to do.

              1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

                You can get Lemon Hart Demerara at Blanchards in Allston though they just raised the price for $14 to $18 a bottle.

                Cambridge Wine next to the Fresh Pond Whole foods had Plymouth for $23 a 1.75L last week.

                1. re: StriperGuy

                  But JK's in Phoenix, Arizona!

                  Bostonians, however, should know that Blanchards sometimes has the LH 151.

                  1. re: craigasaurus

                    Hmmm guess Phoenix to Allston, MA is a little far to travel for a bottle of rum ;-).