What to add to my Christmas Wish List?
My wife asked me to give her my Christmas wish list, and I always include liqueurs, bitters, amari, etc.
I currently have in my cabinet/fridge the usual assortment of base liquors everyone typically has, along with the following:
Mathilde Orange Liqueur
Hiram Walker Peach Brandy
Luxardo Apricot Brandy
Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur
Rothman and Winter Creme de Violette
John D. Taylor's Velvet Falernum
Bitters (Angostura, Peychaud's, Fee's Orange, Regan's Orange, Angostura Orange)
Dry, Sweet and Blanc Vermouths
Obviously, I can make a wide range of classic/craft cocktails with the above, but I'd like to further expand my capabilities with the addition of a few key items. I've identified a few items that
So far, my list wish has apple brandy, sloe gin, creme de menthe, creme de cacao, Swedish Punsch, apricot liqueur and Curacao. Any other can't-live-without liqueurs or other cocktail ingredients I should add to my list?
Suze, and any of the Merlet (the strawberry is the best strawberry liqueur there is) or Giffard fruit liqueurs (the pink grapefruit is insane.) Rothman & Winters Apricot and peach liqueurs. For sipping or cocktails.
For cocktails, El Dorado dark rum and 3 yr. white rum, and for sipping or fine cocktails the El Dorado 12 yr. rum.
Any of the Bittermens bitters, especially the 'Elemakule Tiki bitters.
Oh, I got a different strawberry liqueur mixed up with the Merlet. Merlet liqueurs in general are great, but the one that I was thinking of is Emile Pernot Fraise de Bois (strawberry liqueur) It's a bit pricy at $40 a liter, but I don't like strawberries that much but this was fantastic.
Add Fee Brothers Whiskey Barrel Aged Bitters to the list if you don't have them already.
How about some books for the cocktail library? In addition to the great new and classic books, I have enjoyed the annual Food & Wine cocktail book for the past few years. They're inexpensive and have good current recipes. I tend to get a copy or two as gifts for friends, too. The only slight complaint I've had is that sometimes they rely on the newest-and-greatest liqueurs that I'm not excited to invest in for one drink in one book.
I only know the French formulation (I understand the US import is somewhat different). But it is essential if only for making a white negroni.
Also, I would skip the Hiram Walker Peach Brandy in favor of Dutch's Barrel-aged Peach Brandy (I will admit that I am no connoiseur -- I use it mainly for Fish House Punch).
I think there are better orgeats out there than Monin, too.
Exactly what base spirits do you have? Some good ones:
- Lairds Apple Brandy BIB (a bit hard to find, rather than their applejack)
- A good mixing scotch of your taste, plus more for sipping if you like it
- A mixing cognac
- Mezcal if you like it
- Various Eau de Vie, if you like them (e.g. Pear William, Kirschwasser)
- Smith & Cross rum
- A good grassy white agricole rum
- I assume you have rye and bourbon covered
- Irish whiskey (Clontarf is good and reasonable)
- A pie-spiced amaro -- Ramazzotti, Averna, etc
- Clement Creole Shrubb
I would probably put most of these before CdC and CdM. Get good Sloe Gin (Plymouth, Bitter Truth, etc.) or nothing. But good clear curacao -- Pierre Ferrand Dry if you can find it, Senior if you can't. Nothing blue, orange, or cheap.
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Thanks, EvergreenDan. I knew you'd come through. Very good guess to assume I'd be fine on bourbon and rye, but lacking in Irish whiskey. Thanks for the brand recommendation. Clement Creole Shrub and Smith & Cross are now on my list, and I did indeed include Mescal, Black Grouse, Mezcal and Ramazzotti.
Cherry Heering? At the verybleast that's a Blood and Sand or a Singapore Sling.
I've never been disappointed by spice-heavy liqueurs, like falernum or allspice dram. I know falernum drinks are mostly out of season, but...allspice! That's Christmasy, right? (I put it in my egg nog >_>)
If you're going for a curacao, I can't recommend Pierre Ferrand dry curacao enough. It's the liqueur that helped me realize I actually like certain orange liqueur drinks.
What a coincidence you should mention Kümmel, because that's the one bottle already in my cabinet that I forgot to list. I bought it a year ago for a Russian-themed dinner party we had. I used several existing recipes and made up/adapted some of my own for the party featuring Kümmel. They all got very good reviews from the guests, but the one that got the most raves featured rye, Kummel, Fernet Branca, ginger beer and a homemade cayenne tincture. I have never tried a Silver Bullet, though. Thanks for the tip.
This was one of three our four drinks I made up for that party. The others were adapted versions of existing cocktails, generally substituting Kummel for Absinthe, and a homemade beet grenadine for regular grenadine or other liqueurs. This was the only drink I created from scratch with no existing drink recipe as a reference point.
1.5 oz rye
.75 oz Kummel
1-2 dashes cayenne tincture
splash fernet branca
build first four ingredients in a rocks glass filled with ice. Top with ginger beer
You may want to make it a tall drink if you want to have more ginger beer and less booze.