You can tell plenty about a person from his/her home bar.
‘Tis the season for entertaining and I’ve outlined five must-have bottles that will impress your guests and not break your bank when stocking your home bar.
Vodka is the spirit that we consume the most along the Grand Strand. However, the over-advertised big labels have really tarnished this category, but that does not mean that we have to buy into what they are selling.
Tito’s Handmade Vodka from Austin, Texas is the label to go to when it comes to quality and price. At approximately $23 for a liter bottle and racking up tons of awards during the last 16 years of production proves the point.
Not only is the liquid in the bottle great, but the company is a grassroots American start-up, founded by Tito Beveridge (actual name) and built out of his passion for producing great vodka. Setting up shop in the only legal distillery in Texas and gaining ground by word-of-mouth has kept the prices reasonable. You pay for the stuff you are going to drink and not the stuff we see in the glossy magazines.
Gin is the most intelligent clear spirit in the world. You do not have to like it, but you have to respect it. Gin drinkers are serious and brand loyal. Again, that does not mean they always drink the best gin. To the contrary in fact. The big label advertising takes ahold of many gin drinkers, too, and closes them off to the good stuff.
Bluecoat American Dry Gin out of Philadelphia is nothing shy of spectacular for your gin fanatic guests. At roughly $28 per liter bottle, it is also a much better quality for the price than the more recognizable brands.
Bluecoat is distilled in a custom-made, hand-hammered pot still and produced with only natural and organic botanicals. This produces a much cleaner, smoother spirit. In fact, in 2010, Wine Enthusiast Magazine named Bluecoat Gin as the best spirit in the world for all categories. Enough said.
Arguing about bourbon is like arguing about barbeque. There will never be a resolution as to which is the best. Likewise, price and quality are often related when it comes to America’s namesake in the spirits game.
It would be really easy to suggest a $100 bottle of bourbon for your home bar. At that price, it should be amazing. That is not the point of this article.
Rowan’s Creek Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey from Bardstown, Kentucky is quite possibly the best bang for the buck on the market in this category. At approximately $31 per liter bottle and produced by a distillery with roots heavily attached to those more expensive bottles, this is a no-brainer.
Rowan’s Creek is hand-crafted and hand-bottled in small batches. It gleams nearly every distinct characteristic that bourbon should have and is also 100.1 proof when bottled. It was a Gold Medal winner at the San Francisco Spirits Competition and is, hands down, the must-have bourbon for your home bar.
If you want to separate the men from the boys, as it were, tequila is where you do it. This spirit is misunderstood and misjudged by nearly everyone. The truth about tequila is that it was made to sip, much like whiskey. So before you grab that caramel colored bottle with the plastic sombrero on the cap, consider the purpose of the spirit.
I recommend that you have two bottles of tequila for your bar. One for margaritas and the other for the serious tequila drinker. Any clear tequila will do just fine for mixing. Avoid the artificially-colored tequila and remember that impurities riddle the cheap brands.
For the sipping tequila at your bar, Milangro Select Barrel Reserve Reposado Tequila is about as good as they come. It does cost a little more at roughly $55 per liter, but the price is worth it.
Made from 100 percent estate-grown blue agave and aged for eleven months in French white oak makes this tequila something worth discussing. It is distilled in small batches which allows for more craftsmanship and care to go into each bottle. It is a stunner from start to finish and will make a statement about your home bar.
Another telltale sign of a great home bar is the rum. Rum has a long lineage of importance in the Caribbean and island countries. Like tequila, good rum is meant to be sipped.
Two bottles of rum are appropriate for the home bar as well. A silver rum for the cuba libre lover, any will do, and an aged rum for the guest in the know.
Appleton Estate Reserve Rum from Nassau Valley, Jamaica is the culmination of all things Caribbean. It smells, tastes and feels like the islands. At approximately $30 per liter, it is much cheaper than a vacation. Perfectly aged and blended by a master distiller using copper pot stills, this is one of the finest rums in the world. Earning a near perfect rating from Wine Enthusiast Magazine in 2008.
There you have it. The beginnings of a great home bar. These bottles are all worthy of discussion and will have your guests intrigued by your level of commitment and excellence you have in your home. From here, you are in a great position to expand and take your home bar from good to great. Cheers!