Bar Basics: Spirits to Keep On Hand at All Times

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One of the things I was most excited about when moving into my first solo apartment was stocking a beautifully curated bar. I have a bit of an obsession with bar carts – there may or may not be an entire Pinterest board to prove this – so I knew I wanted to make mine the focal point of my first big-girl living space. This obsession of mine is so well known that my Mom bought me the gorgeous bar cabinet in these photos as a house warming gift. It’s still one of my favorite pieces of furniture to this day. Here are the must-have spirits I keep stocked at all times for easy entertaining.

Hangar 1 Straight Vodka ($38) // Vodka is my family’s go-to spirit and this is the one we’ve been drinking for years. Made from a blend of wheat-based spirit and grape eau de vie, it has virtually no bite and a gorgeous floral quality. If you can’t find Hangar 1, go for Prairie Vodka or Tito’s in a pinch.

Hendrick’s Gin ($40) // If I’m having a cocktail these days, there’s a good chance it’s made with Gin. As a result, it’s worth it to have my favorite around, even if a bit pricey.

Flor de Caña Rum ($20) // I don’t drink a lot of Rum, but when the mood for a Mojito or Dark & Stormy strikes, I make sure to have both dark and light. Captain Morgan or Bacardi will do the trick for the light stuff, whereas I prefer to have at least a semi-decent dark rum like Flor de Caña or Zacapa on hand for guests who enjoy it on the rocks.

Casamigos Tequila ($57) // Tequila is a must. Whether it’s for weekend margaritas or a quick shot before heading out to a bar (you know you do it too), never be without it. Blanco or Reposado, whatever you prefer. Funny enough, the Kirkland brand Silver and Reposado options are bomb, and a great value too. If I haven’t been on a Costco run in a while, I go for Casamigos, or Fortaleza when I can find it. They’re premium and definitely priced as such, but cheap Tequila can be painful and drinking should not be painful.

Bulleit Bourbon ($28) // This is, hands down, my favorite mainstream Bourbon. Even though I’m pretttyyyy sure it comes from a factory distillery in Indiana, it’s still the best-tasting bang for your buck these days. If you like something a bit spicier, their Rye is also fantastic.

Carpano Antica ($36) // Several of my friends and family enjoy a well-made manhattan so I make sure to keep this vermouth (plus brandied or maraschino cherries) stocked. It also makes an excellent night cap neat or on the rocks.

Wild Card – Hangar 1 Kaffir Lime Vodka ($38) // I’ve gotten so many friends hooked on this spirit, I can’t keep count. Although a little weird (read: surprisingly floral) at first, you’ll quickly decide you don’t ever want to drink anything else. With club soda or in a gimlet, this real-fruit infused vodka is always a hit.

{Exact prices may vary by city and state.}

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I’m curious, what are your favorite every-day spirits? Let me know in the comments below.

Again, thank you to Megan Burgess of Shortography for the gorgeous photographs!

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Big Batch Bourbon Cocktail

{Anthropologie Glassware | BB&B Mason Jar Drink Dispenser}

This cocktail is a special one, as it’s a bit famous (or should I say infamous?) amongst my family and friends. It’s been a catalyst for many a late/questionable night, as well as the signature drink for countless get-togethers and celebrations. This mix of citrusy, maple-y goodness coupled with sweet bourbon and a bit of spice makes this a great choice anytime of year, day or night (seriously, we may or may not have finished a carafe by noon before). Ladies and gentlemen, I give you… Luke’s Whiskey Cocktail.

Whiskey Cocktail IngredientsMakes roughly 10-12 Bourbon cocktails.

Ingredients:

  • 1 QT {or roughly half a 2 QT bottle} Spiced apple or pear cider (I’m partial to Trader Joe’s versions)
  • 1 750 mL Bottle good-but-not-too-good Straight Bourbon (We like using Bulleit for this)
  • Juice of 10 or so lemons
  • 2 16.9 Oz Bottles of something bubbly… I like to use a mix of sparkling water and Ginger Ale to keep the sweetness down, but lemon lime and/or club soda would work equally as well

Directions:

  1. In a large drink dispenser or punch bowl carefully pour in your cider and Bourbon.
  2. Squeeze the lemons into the mixture, careful not to get any seeds in the drink. We recommend deseeding the leftover juiced lemons and dropping them into the bowl/dispenser for color, aesthetic and extra lemon flavor.
  3. 10 minutes before guests arrive, add lots of ice and your desired effervescence.
  4. Give it a quick stir with a long wooden spoon, pour and enjoy!

Tray of CocktailsExtras:

  • I love an autumnal riff on this where we sub a quarter to half of the cider for rosemary maple simple syrup.
  • Leave a small bottle of bitters beside the cocktail so guests can add a dash or two for extra depth!
  • Sub half the lemons for grapefruits for a tart & summery, less-sweet version.

Cider Whiskey CocktailWhiskey Cocktail LemonDrink Dispenser Whiskey TablescapeTray of Whiskey Cocktails

[Special thanks to Megan Burgess of Shortography for the gorgeous photos!]

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