I want to remind you to please save the date for May 31tst! This sweet blog turns two and we will party. Bakeshop style.
Something that has not been discussed much on this blog is my affinity for a good drink. Sure there has been a mention here or there about a lovely wine I enjoyed or how much I needed a beer at the end of my day. Cocktails, though, have been completely overlooked.
I am setting out to remedy that.
Anyone who has been to my house knows I love a good drink be it wine, beer, or spirits. Slowly over the past year I have been teaching myself to make delicious drinks with the tastiness that resides in my liquor cabinet.
I keep a liquor cabinet that is stocked better than most. It’s just a fact. I am not trying to sound pretentious. The very first bottle of liquor I bought I believe was a creme de menthe to add to my hot cocoa. Since then my palette has evolved and expanded. Now I can honestly say that there is not a quality liquor out there I don’t like (I hate bottom shelf).
What I want to do this month is encourage you to build your own liquor cabinet (or expand it is you already have one) and get to mixing some drinks! It is so incredibly easy. The hurdle is knowing recipes and I will give you plenty of my faves.
So for the next month we are going to talk liquor. All my favorites in fact. Living here in Oregon we are blessed with incredible distillers. Bull Run Distillery is one of the standouts and you will see many of their spirits over the coming weeks. Whatever you do please buy and enjoy your local spirits. You will not be disappointed.
Seriously. You heard me right? Please please please support your local distillers. Not only because it is good for your town/state but because, chances are, the spirits will knock your socks off. All my top picks are Oregon made. Just do it (yes I went there).
Besides bottom shelf sucks. Don’t do that to yourself. You deserve better.
Today I want to talk about the five (or seven depending on how you read the list) spirits I think are the basics. From these you will be able to mix a host of drinks. Sure you will need mixers and some additional spirits but by in large here is what I think you need to have:
1. Vodka- Usually distilled from grain or potatoes (at the least the kind you should be buying will be). High quality vodkas are delicious simply chilled and sipped. It doesn’t have a strong flavor compared to some of these other alcohols so it makes a standout mixer.
2. Rum- A pirates drink. But no really it is distilled from sugarcane by products and is aged in a barrel. The longer it is aged the darker it is. Most rum comes from the Caribbean but Bull Run does make a wicked one right here in Oregon. If not buying local I particularly love Puerto Rican rum. Bacardi was a cop out last time I went shopping. Don’t judge.
3. Tequila- With or without the worm I love tequila. A lot. This is the one you get to fudge on when it comes to buying local. Tequila can only be made in Mexico and is distilled from agave. I urge you to branch out beyond Jose Cuervo and Patron. Craft tequila can be incredibly unique and delicious. We love Zircon Azul as our standby mixer as it is relatively inexpensive yet still quite tasty.
4. Whiskey (and a Bourbon)- Whiskey is made from fermented grain mash and aged in charred barrels. It is very strictly regulated and delicious. Bourbon is a type of whiskey that is made from at least 51% corn. They taste very different and I keep both on hand when I can afford it. If not we generally just keep one GOOD whiskey. And scotch. We usually have a scotch on hand too.
5. Gin (dry and western)- Oh gin. I didn’t know I loved it till just this past fall when Vivacity won me over with their Native Gin. It has 17 botanicals of which many of them are native to Oregon. It is considered a western style gin as the flavor profile is so incredibly unique. The main component and flavor in gin is juniper and with a london dry gin it is much more pronounced. More so than any of the other spirits, I highly recommend you just keep tasting different gins. You will most likely eventually land on one you like.
As far as equipment does you can fake most of it but I do recommend:
- A good shaker. I have tw0- a cobbler shaker (the one with the metal top) and a boston shaker (the metal cup and pint glass). The boston can easily make more than one drink, the cobbler is best for single servings.
- Shot glasses or a jigger.
- Muddler. You need one to mush up all the delicious stuff.
- Strainer of some sort. I use my small metal strainer when I juice citrus into my shaker and use a hawthorne strainer when pouring drinks
- Glassware. This is the biggest one you can fudge because honestly if it is you at home alone who cares what glass you are drinking from.
- Citrus reamer. They are cheap and you will thank me when you have to juice four limes for margaritas.
- Mixers. We will talk more as I share drinks with you. I always keep lemons, limes, club soda, and some other random stuff on hand.
As we approach the coming weeks and these drinks please don’t feel like I am preachy or trying to convert you to a particular spirit. Bottom line is drink what you like but every once in a while taste a martini just to make sure you still don’t like it.