The 7 Bottle Bar
How To Stock Your Home With The Most Versatile Liquors Around
Whether you love to entertain or just kick back with a glass of your favorite drink at night, a home bar is an incredible addition to any space. But where do you begin? There are plenty of lists and guides out there telling you what to buy, most recommending a 10-12 bottle range, and depending on what you’re going for, they’re not necessarily wrong. But to be honest, a lot of liquor sits on your shelf, unused, when you don’t tailor your bar to your own tastes. Here’s a liquor list that will keep your friends, and your budget, perfectly happy.
Old Overholt Rye
Supposedly America’s oldest continuously operating whiskey — and from Pennsylvania no less — this is the best liquor for your dollar on the market. Yes, there are better ryes and whiskeys, but none this good and reasonably priced. It used to be a lot of bars until people started catching onto the cocktail boom, and has regained popularity in the last decade.
Fords London Dry Gin
An updated classic is how this is often sold, and they’re not wrong. If I’ve learned anything, everybody has a take on gin (nobody seems to be indifferent) and everybody's preferred is their favorite. This is a good middle of the road, great in a gin and tonic and not
Denizen Merchant Reserve Rum
I know you drank too much rum in college and I know you “don’t really like” rum now, but please for me give it one more try. Everyone loves to talk whisky and bourbon and all its history and flavor profiles but rum has to be the most interesting liquor in the world. There’s way less regulation (it essentially just has to be liquor made from sugar) so it leaves the door open to so much variation and experimentation. Most people who have rum on their bar don’t just have one or two, but for now that’s all you need. This one is smoother than you thought you were in college but aromatic and caramlelly as well. It’s great in Rum & Coke or Mai Tai.
I’m going to upset some people with what follows and I’m totally OK with that. It doesn’t matter what vodka you drink, it’s all the same. It is a neutral spirit. You got sick on vodka in college because you drank too much, not because the vodka was bad. Now that we got that out of the way, just buy Tito’s. It’s reasonably priced and works great in a martini, with soda, or as a base for a cocktail. A true workhorse.
An orange liqueur might seem weird on this list, but you’d be surprised how many drinks it’s in. A forward spicy orange flavor with a slight bitterness, it can make or break a margarita, is used in countless tiki drinks and is even good just mixed with some tonic.
Dolin Rouge Vermouth
A battle between this and Dry Vermouth seemed imminent, until I realized just how many drinks this bottle is in, Negroni Manhattan, Americano, Vieux Carre... you’ll find yourself reaching for this bottle often.
Spirit, sugar, water and bitters is the original recipe for a cocktail. Angostura is the little bottle you’ve seen on bars for years and wondered what it is. Essentially alcohol steeped with botanicals, bitters are a concentrated liquid to add depth to a drink. The feature in Don Draper's favorite old fashioned and have helped with many a chef's hungover mornings of club soda lemon and some bitters (try it next time).
Dolin Dry Vermouth: If you don’t like martinis it’s probably because the vermouth in it was old. Vermouth is fortified wine and with that it needs to be refrigerated just like your wine, it will go bad (except instead of 3-4 days you usually get about 1-2 months.
Campari or Aperol: Campari is a more bitter but both are great additions to any bar, traditionally campari is the base of a negroni or americano but you can sub aperol for a little sweeter taste.
Espolon Tequila: Everybody loves a margarita. That’s all I have to say.
The more you know…
Try and always have some club soda and tonic in your fridge.
Fresh limes and lemons are good to keep around The easier they are to lightly squeeze in the store that means the juicer they will be. Also please promise me you won’t use bottle lemon or lime juice, it just isn’t worth it.
To make a simple syrup, mix sugar and water in a pot and cook over simmer stirring until all sugar has melted, let cool and store in the fridge.
By: Jordan Swartz