Top 5 spirits to have onhand in the kitchen???
I use liqueurs mostly for baking, so I keep Coitreau, Amaretto or Frangelico, Chambord, rum, and brandy or cognac. The last one goes into savory every now and then.
dry vermouth for pasta dishes, cognac for gravies, red wine for red sauces, dos equis beer for chilis, and maker's mark whiskey in lieu of warm milk to help you sleep.
red and wine wines
brandy or cognac
oops - that was six! but it's what I keep!
wine (red, white and dry vermouth - counting that as one not three)
- whatever white/red wine goes with the food I'm cooking (although I tend to under-utilize wine in my cooking)
- Good cognac (for stuff like Steak Diane)
- Pernod (indispensable in some of my cream sauces for use with pasta and/or seafood)
- Mandarine Napoleon
- Campari (for *my* glass)
I don't usually keep madeira, vermouth, etc. hanging around a long time; I buy a small one for nearly each use.
In terms of actual spirits? There are only two I actually cook with on a regular basis - brandy, and BOURBON. The latter is HIGHLY underrated as a cooking spirit - my dad is fond of saying, "I'm becoming more and more convinced that Southerners don't use it JUST because that's all they had..." It goes in my BBQ sauce, it goes in anything I make involving sweet potatoes or winter squash, and yes, I've made steak au poivre with it. And that's before we get into bread puddings or flambeed bananas.
If we're just talking booze, I'll round out my five with a decent white and red, and whatever the cook is sipping.
cognac, vodka, pastis(usually Pernod), Grand Marnier, sherry. I also keep Dry and Sweet Vermouth, Marsala, Madeira, and Pineau de Charentes in the auxilliary fridge. These are specifically for cooking. there is also a small liquor cabinet in the Kitchen as well, for drinking stuff. ( do use the vermouth for both cooking and drinking so as to consume it faster).
In my kitchen?
#1 & 2 are definitely red wine and white wine. Nothing fancy, but better than grocery store cooking wine. I cook a lot of Italian food so these are very necessary.
#3 would be sake. I do a lot of japanese cooking as well and store bought sweetened mirin just isn't the same
Tied for #4&5 would be tequila & bourbon, both of which I love for meat marinades.
My list would be:
for fruit: Chambord
for baking: Grand Marnier and Kahlua
for cooking: dry sherry and dry vermouth but I'd really need Marsala too when you pare it down to the minimum.