Must-Have Bar Essentials – Part 2: Essential Mixers

So you just moved out on your own, or you just moved and had to toss out all of your old booze when you left. In any event, you’re starting over from scratch and you want to make sure you have all of the essentials, whether you’re mixing yourself a nice cocktail after a long hard day at the office, or you want to make sure you have everything you need before you have some friends over on a Saturday night.

In part 1, Essential Spirits, we looked at some of the essential beverages you need in a wet bar. Now, in part 2, we’ll chat about some of the things you may need to pick up as cheap oakley sunglasses mixers or for a party or when you want something specific, but won’t need sitting in your fridge at all times, unless you really do drink that much.

Now then, now that we’re through the essential spirits, you’ll need a few more things for some of the mixed drinks you’ll want. Go mid-shelf for all of these – brand isn’t important, but in most cases you can trust brand. Don’t break the bank by going top shelf or some super-expensive brand though, remember, you’ll be mixing most of these:

  • Irish Cream (Baileys, of course)
  • Dry and sweet vermouth (I prefer Martini and Rossi)
  • Coffee liqueur (Kahlua, you betcha)
  • Tonic water
  • Seltzer water
  • Ginger ale
  • Miscellaneous fruit juices (orange, pineapple, cranberry, lime)
  • Grenadine
  • Triple Sec
  • Bitters

That should be it – you should be ready to go. The only other thing I would suggest is making yourself some simple syrup (one part water and one part sugar heated until a clear liquid) to sweeten up some of your sweeter cocktails and mixed drinks. If you’re into garnishes and making your drinks authentic like a real bartender, you’ll probably want to pick up some lemons and limes, some maraschino cherries, and some olives for those martinis you know you’re going to try making. Good luck with that though – martinis sound easy, but they’re not.

Let me make a diversion really quickly to a very specific liqueur that you’ve probably seen a ton of commercials about: Disaronno. Let’s be absolutely clear, Disaronno is amaretto liqueur: nothing more, nothing less. That’s something you absolutely have to know, despite its aggressive marketing as something more than a liqueur. They had a pretty good spate of commercials where they showed you several different drinks that you can make using the stuff, but at the end of the day it’s a liqueur, a mixer, a non-essential unless you absolutely love the taste of amaretto. If you don’t know the taste or don’t like the taste, don’t get fooled by the marketing and think that it’s even top-shelf, much less that is requires a place in your bar at home, or that you even have to order it by name when you’re out. (you can just as easily order a “Disaronno and orange juice” as an “amaretto and oj”) Don’t get me wrong, it’s tasty, and if you love amaretto, you should definitely pick some up, but don’t get caught up thinking that it’s essential. It’s so specific a flavor that I would tell you to pick up some Bailey’s and some Kahlua long before Disaronno.

Disaronno is only one in a long line of mixers and liqueurs that are marketing themselves as core alcohol essentials. Liqueurs make some great drinks, but I tend to prefer them when cheap oakleys mixed with real spirits unless I specifically like a certain flavor and want something relatively light to drink. (most liqueurs have pretty low alcohol by-volume) Don’t be fooled. Get your essentials and pick up liqueurs and cordials according to the tastes you like. None of them are required to make some of the best (in my opinion) and most popular drinks.

In any event, now you have to two essential tools – spirits and mixers. For a number of drinks, you’re already ready to go! But we’ll come back for part 3 to chat about some of the essential bar gear you should have to effectively mix drinks like a pro. Some mixed drinks and simple cocktails you’ll be fine with now, but if you’re looking to make anything shaken or that requires complicated ingredients or straining or any other technique, we’ll get you in the next segment. Until then, drink responsibly!






3 responses to “Must-Have Bar Essentials – Part 2: Essential Mixers”

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  2. Lori Avatar

    Where is the triple sec??

  3. pastilla Avatar

    Great list . . .I am poised with a jar of martini olives, (the big, fat, expensive ones soaked in vermouth), ready for the next segment.

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