A lot goes into preparing for a party, including stocking the liquor cabinet. The question is, what should you always try to keep on hand to make things easier?
WHY SHOULD I STOCK THE LIQUOR CABINET?
Stocking the liquor cabinet is such a vintage thing to do, did you know?
Fixing your guests a drink is an easy way to get them to feel welcome and comfortable in your home.
More often than not we plan for our parties, but sometimes an impromptu gathering crops up, or there’s something special to celebrate, like a promotion at work.
When this happens, you’ll be grateful that you have a well-stocked liquor cabinet. Best of all, you don’t need very much!
Here are seven bottles I try to keep in the liquor cabinet at all times.
THE LIQUOR CABINET VIDEO
Do you want to see what I keep in my liquor cabinet? Here’s a video of me doing a show and tell. If you like what you see, be sure to check out my YouTube channel and hit subscribe!
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Vodka is one of those alcohols that’s easy to mix.
At the time of writing this, I’m completely out of vodka, but that’s okay because I have backups. I mostly use vodka for caesars and bloody mary cocktails, but I also enjoy vodka tonics.
Vodka also goes well with orange juice (Screwdrivers), ginger beer (Moscow Mules) and cranberry juice (Cape Codders).
Paired with other liquors, you can create the following:
Kalua (or any coffee liqueur) for a Black Russian.
Milk + Kalua for a White Russian.
Vermouth for a Vodka Martini.
Campari for a Campari Cocktail.
Amaretto for a Godmother.
There is so much you can make with vodka, including Jello shots, but since I’m not a mixologist, I’ll refer you to this book.
While I’m plum out of vodka, I have three different kinds of gin in the liquor cabinet. It’s not hard to see which one I prefer, is it?
My favourite mixed drink is a gin and tonic, but I love it in caesars and spruce beer slushes.
Most gin cocktails involve more ingredients than traditional vodka cocktails, but here are the easiest ones:
Vermouth + Campari for a Negroni.
Shake it (or stir!) with vermouth for a classic Martini.
Stir in lime cordial for a Gimlet.
My all-time favourite whisky is bourbon, which I’ll be using as my main example. It’s the only whisky I really care for because everything else tastes like burning, especially scotch. I tried so hard to appreciate scotch, really, I did, but I finally threw the towel in and admitted defeat. The only way I can drink scotch is if it’s mixed with soda water…and a lot of it!
While my husband likes keeping a bottle of scotch that he can serve as a digestif to our guests after dessert, the only whisky we normally keep is bourbon.
We love our old fashioned bourbon cocktails, like bourbon lemonades and mint juleps.
Another drink you can fix with whisky includes Whisky Sours with lemon juice, simple syrup and a bit of egg white froth.
Whisky can also be mixed into specialty coffees, sweet tea, apple cider and ginger beer. It’s also great for baking!
Speaking of baking, I’m going to squeeze kirsch on this list.
Kirsch is an eau-de-vie, meaning there’s no added sugar in it.
I keep kirsch in the liquor cabinet for two reasons.
One, it’s excellent splashed into whipped cream or over a bowl of fresh-cut fruit served for dessert. Kirsch-spiked whipped cream is the perfect touch for black forest cakes and fraisiers (a classic French strawberry cake).
Second, I use kirsch when I’m doctoring up a store-bought bag of cheese fondue.
I love inviting folks over for cheese fondue, and if I ever feel like taking a page from the Swiss, I can encourage everyone to take a shot of kirsch before and after the meal.
I’m not a huge fan of shots, so this isn’t something I like doing, but it can add an extra special touch to a cheese fondue party.
Tequila isn’t one of those alcohols I serve a lot of. The first thing that comes to mind when I think of tequila is shots.
Just so you know, I’m a big believer in drinking responsibly, so I’m not a huge advocate for shots of tequila (or anything, really). However, sometimes the occasion calls for a cheeky shot of tequila.
I mostly keep tequila for marinades, like this tequila lime marinade I use for chicken and flank steak.
Tequila is also something I will also use in place of vodka when I’m making caesar cocktails. If you’re a fan of tequila, here are some classic drinks you can whip up:
Cointreau (triple sec) + lime juice + crushed ice for a Margarita
Orange juice + grenadine for a Tequila Sunrise.
Grapefruit soda for a Paloma.
When you pick up a bottle of rum, you’ll have to choose between dark rum and light rum. There’s also coconut rum, which goes really well with orange juice, but we’re going to focus on the first two.
I personally favour dark spiced rum because it goes better with the rum cocktails I like mixing up, like the dark & stormy (rum + ginger beer), hot gold apple cider (rum + cinnamon schnapps + cider) and rum and cola.
If you prefer drinks like daiquiris, piña coladas and mojitos, then you’ll want to reach for a bottle of white rum.
Both rums are good to have on hand because they’re so different, but alcohol isn’t cheap, is it?
When you’re first getting started with building a liquor cabinet, it’s so much more affordable when you slowly build it up, one bottle at a time.
7. A LIQUEUR (SOMETHING SWEET)
This one has the most room for you to play around with.
What I’m thinking here is a liqueur that you can sneak into a hot chocolate or a coffee, like a cream liqueur.
Maybe it’s a coffee liqueur, like Kahlua, or a hazelnut liqueur, like Frangelico.
Amaretto, Grand Marnier, brandy and chocolate liqueur are other fine options to consider. Which one would you pick?
BONUSES FOR THE LIQUOR CABINET
Apart from stocking spirits in the liquor cabinet, it’s a good idea to keep the following on hand:
Maybe you’re invited to a dinner party and don’t have time to stop at the store. If you have wine in your booze stash, you will always have a gift at the ready!
Or perhaps you’re cooking a nice meal and the sauce is missing something. If you have a bottle of red on hand, the problem is solved!
Plus, sometimes you just feel like enjoying a nice glass of wine while you cook. In other words, keeping a couple of bottles of wine handy is never a bad idea.
Beer is a common offering when company comes over. Keep a few bottles or cans in your fridge to keep them cold!
One rule in my home is that there must always be a bottle of sparkling wine in the fridge. You never know when a cause for celebration arises!
ANTICIPATE YOUR GUESTS’ PREFERENCES
One of the first times I properly hosted my mother and her husband for dinner, I thought I had everything I needed.
I had wine, beer, bubbles, and liquor, but I missed the mark.
When they told me a beer would hit the spot, I was exuberant because, well, my husband and I have a good selection.
I asked what kind they would like: an IPA? A sour? A stout? Alas, they wanted something I didn’t have. They wanted something basic, like a lager or a pilsner!
There was a delay in getting their drinks to them while my husband swung by the store, but it’s something that could have been easily avoided had I given some thought to their drink preferences beforehand. Afterall, I knew what they liked!
Some folks are happy with whatever you offer them, but it’s for this reason that you should have a selection of non-alcoholic beverages as well.
You always want to anticipate having someone sober in your midst.
MAKE SURE YOU HAVE…
The liquor cabinet is stocked and you’re expecting guests over for dinner.
Here are some extras you might want to have on hand to mix cocktails like a pro:
Tonic and soda water
Cola, ginger ale and ginger beer
Lemons, limes and oranges for juice, wedges, and twists.
Simple syrup (try making your own simple syrup, it's easy!)
A bar set for fixing up drinks
Angostura Bitters for classic cocktails.
THANK YOU FOR POPPING BY THE KITCHEN!
As someone who bakes and cooks a lot, this list is a bit subjective, but now I want to hear from you!
Is there anything missing from this list? What do you always keep in your liquor cabinet? I hope you’ll let me know in the comments below!
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Love and gratitude,