It’s Friday, you’ve finished work, you’ve got that weekend feeling and you’re calling it – it’s officially cocktail o’clock!
You dust off the martini glasses, dance across the kitchen – full of anticipation, you throw open the door to your cocktail cabinet and……….
What greets you is like a scene from Ready Steady Cook.
The Christmas Baileys, some leftover sambuca and a bottle of eye watering liqueur bought from the last holiday you went on.
Your cocktail cabinet needs a detox.
If any of this is ringing true, then now is the perfect time to get yourself Friday-night ready. In this post I’m going to tell you my top ten tips for a cohesive cocktail cabinet.
#1 First Rule of Cocktail Club - Is to Love Cocktail Club
Pick alcohol you actually enjoy drinking. It’s easy to spend a fortune on spirits that you’ll never drink. Whilst it’s great to have guests over, don’t forget that a home cocktail cabinet’s main customer is you. It’s also a chance to share your tastes with your friends – every cocktail is personal, and every cocktail choice tells a great story.
#2 Lemons, Limes & Ice
Always have some in the fridge. It might sound obvious, but lemons and limes are essential ingredients in most major cocktails because their acidity balances out alcohol and sugar.
Tip: If you’re squeezing the juice into your shaker, roll the lemon or lime a few times on the counter first – you’ll see why.
#3 Sugar Syrup
Keep a bottle of this handy to sweeten any cocktail to your guests’ taste. You can buy ready-made sugar syrup but it’s just as easy to make your own by dissolving sugar in hot water -leave to cool and then keep in the fridge.
How do you balance out the sweetness in your cocktail creations? With bitters of course! Bitters are highly concentrated extractions of flowers, herbs, bark, and plants. There are a few different types but if you can only pick one, it should be Angostura as these are used most frequently.
Vodka doesn’t have a strong colour, taste, or aroma, so it makes for a perfect mixing spirit. The differences between vodka brands comes down to what they’re distilled from (potatoes, grains, sugar cane) and their texture in the mouth. Some (like Absolut) have an oily, silky texture while others (like Stolichnaya) have a watery, medicinal finish.
Grey Goose is an investment, but it mixes well with everything.
It’s one of the base spirits for many popular cocktails, so definitely have plenty on hand. If you’re not a connoisseur, a couple of gins is a good start - a good bottle of a London dry gin is the most versatile and can work in everything from a Dry Martini to a classic G&T.
Rum is distilled from molasses. A light rum will see you through most requests for Daiquiris and Mojitos, whilst a darker or spiced rum is great for more tiki themed cocktails or punches.
#8 Coffee Liqueur
This is the one exception to rule #1. Even if you don’t like coffee, it’s worth keeping a bottle of this one in, as at some point in the future you WILL have someone round who fancies an after-dinner Espresso Martini or perhaps a White Russian.
Any excuse to squeeze in some extra bubbles is fine by me. A bit of sparkle has the ability to liven up any cocktail and Champagne is a key ingredient in a refreshing pre-dinner Kir Royale, Mimosa or Bellini. If you just so happen to be fresh out of Champagne though – prosecco works just as well.
Tequila and mezcal are enjoying a new-found popularity at the moment- even the Breaking Bad guys have their own Mezcal.
All tequilas are made by distilling the juice of the blue agave plant. The longer you age them, the more mellow and sweet they become.
Aged tequilas demand time, but in return you get a truly special spirit that’s mellow, spicy, and rich. Silver tequilas are crisp, fresh and crystal clear making them the perfect partner for a Margarita.
Tip: If you want to try something different, swap your G&T for a T&T, Sekforde have a prickly pear, fig and cardamom tonic that’s tailored to mix with tequila and mezcal.
I hope this little guide has been informative, and I hope it has inspired you to get creative with your cocktails!