I’ve gotten requests to help others start their home Mixology Stations, and that is just what this post will attempt to do. Luckily I’ve been asked to opine on this topic previously and another time the in-laws asked what was needed for a fun Christmas. The answer was about the same…
Rude interruption from the readership rabble: “Tess, you’re a dork, why not just call it a bar?”
A bar is more complicated, and sounds a bit trashy to bring into one’s home. More importantly, though, this blog is about mixology, not say, beer and wine. I’m not saying I’m never going to write about beer or wine, but I don’t mix beer and wine. I think we would all agree that beer and/or wine would be a part of any bar.
Alright then, on with it.
There are some basics that you have to have. I wouldn’t buy anything too gimmicky, but I’m not sure you can get by without the following:
Drink from your morning latte’s crumpled Solo cup if it fits the circs. If you’re going for the more traditional style or registering for your wedding, start with at least four of each:
- high ball glasses
- martini glasses
“I only like X!” Then only buy X. Why fight it? But if you want to be able to host with the basics, some basics are required. All of these are placed here with the idea of MIXING drinks (remember, this is building a Mixology Station), so if you get all high and mighty about what is best on its own, then buy that for serving on its own. If you’re a fiend for labels and want multiple high-end whatever, then by all means, get more of that whatever. I won’t object anytime you add another bottle to the cart. Basics:
- Gin – I keep Sapphire and Hendricks and think gin is basically the best base liquor
- Whiskey – you need at least one, even if you don’t drink it, regardless of what I said before. They should be (in order of importance):
- Bourbon – don’t spend a ton, but make it good. I recommend Buffalo Trace
- Scotch – something in the middle range if you’re not into scotch already
- Rye – whatever you can find. It’s needed for Manhattans
Am I really leaving off vodka? Damn straight I am! Unless it is infused, it does nothing for mixing flavors. If you want to stock it, go for it, but buy something really cheap for mixing, as people truly can’t tell the difference. I also left off rum. Rum is hard. Poor rum, go marry a Coke.
Liqueurs and Such
SHOCKER: The real key to mixology is not the liquor, but the random stuff you have to put in it. This becomes more subjective, but the list below is ordered with necessities at the top and things I prefer descending below:
- Cointreau – no way around it, this is critical
- Vermouth – sweet (red/Italian) and dry (white/French)
- Bitters – keep at least Angostura. Look for specialty flavors like Fee Brothers or Regan for Orange/Lemon/Peach, etc.
- St. Germain’s Elderflower liqueur – just makes mixology too easy
- Campari – I love the stuff, turns a drink red, people accuse me of having a girly drink, and then I give them a taste…
- Absinthe – I’m using LeTournement and think it adds great flavors
- Domaine de Canton’s Ginger liqueur – great way to spice things up
This is a starter list. Recipes will call for all kinds of junk, but you can pretty much cheat using the first three items in this list.
Other Things You’ll Need
- Citrus – mainly limes, but some lemon too
- Olives – they can be be in vermouth in a jar in the fridge indefinitely
- Onions – get the ones in sweet vermouth; I’ll write many odes to them in posts to come
- Fruit juices – unsweetened cranberry is #1, after that it just depends
- Any fruit you can put in the freezer – blueberries and cranberries are particularly useful
- Mint – you can freeze this too
- Sparkling water – feel free to get a siphon
- Tonic – particularly in the summer
Wait, I don’t have this much space, you’re not a dork, you’re a nut!
If you go with the first two items in each list, you’ll be fine. A lot of where and how to store things comes down to aesthetics, and there’s nothing wrong with picking your bottles to enhance your decor. Plus, you should use the fridge. I keep the gin, plus the citrus, olives, etc in the old icebox. My own bar cart is pictured at the beginning of the post, but I also think a minimalist setup like the below is sweet. Make your own, since this is expensive:
Ultimately, your Mixology Station should match your style. If it limits your menu, so be it. Just be sure you limit it to drinks you like.
Ingredients, Stations, Mix!