Our man on the bar stool mixes it up in residence.
KIDS SAY THE DARN-dest things.
But, after Art Linkletter, and way before Cosby hosted the show, my school friends and I often came up with some ideas that would raise the bar. Of course I mean, “bar” in the literal sense that we are talking about, the kind that our parents used to visit back in the go-go boots days.
Some little kid would be on the playground screaming, “My swing is a rocket ship!” or “I’m Evel Knievel on the slide!” We were having none of that. We turned the monkey bars into an actual working bar. Of course there wasn’t any of the hard stuff. But—the seeds were planted.
That must have shaken and stirred in my psychic unconsciousness for a few decades. And finally I decided the time had come to do something about it. Noting that during the almost 20 years in my home I’ve never dined in the dining room, it only seemed fitting to convert that valuable real estate into something worthwhile.
Being from an architectural background, it seemed natural to commit way too much planning to the effort. I surveyed the area and compared every possible layout, accompanied by various pieces of furniture I’d found scattered across the Internet. All of that was conglomerated into AutoCAD Architectural Desktop 2012 to absolute precision.
I rummaged through the basement (where the monsters live) and from dusty, spider-infested boxes began to assemble a collection of bric-a-brac from travels, thoughtful presents and general hording items. Once everything was in its proper place and appeared something approaching a proper pub, I began to notice… something…was…missing…but what?
Ah! The booze!
I got in touch with Certified Spirit Specialist Justin Welch and made a plan to go over the finer points of stocking a proper bar. Our mission was to compile a well-rounded collection of distillations for a range of occasions and moods. I think the result was a successful blend of mid-to-higher range of all things from fluff to rough.
Whiskeys: You gotta have Jack Daniels. That’s a given. It’s the “Jack” of all trades and tirades. We also selected Evan Williams. It’s a great little base for whiskey cocktails that won’t break the bank. I insist on having Bushmills Black Bush in the cabinet. In my opinion, it’s the best Irish Whiskey going. Drink it with a drop or two of water.
Johnny Walker Red Label has always been the go-to for Scotch. It’s a quality blend from Kilmarnock that’s smooth and consistant. Ardbeg Scotch is a treat. It’s not for the faint of tongue. It’s the peatiest Scotch in the world. It’s a higher-end bottle. But I love that smoky flavor.
We also went top shelf for the bourbons. Willett Pot Still Reserve and Woodford Reserve, both from Central Kentucky are the bee’s left and right knees of bourbon. These are nice to just
look at. I placed them on display
instead of under the bar.
Vodkas: This is a staple of any well-stocked bar. It’s incredibly versatile and so variable you really can’t stump it. For my primary concern, I went with Tito’s. It’s distilled six times from 100 percent corn and made in Austin, Texas. Even the bronze plastic lid is made in ‘Merica. A bottle of Ketel One also is one for the menagerie. Made of 100 percent wheat, it’s Dutch and has been around since 1691. (It’s 200 years older than the martini.)
I stuck in a couple of flavored capsules also and veered to Pinnacle vodka. This was because of the huge variety available. The Vanilla and Whipped (cream) flavors are a very pleasant addition to anything you’ll make this spring. Think Creamsicle…hint.
Of course, Rums: You can’t have warm-weather cocktails without it. Whether I use Captain Morgan Spiced or the Parrot Bay Coconut is open to which mixer I close my eyes and pull out of the fridge. But the standard is still Bacardi. Of course, there’s room made for that.
Gins: I, again, go for the one that sets the standard. Tanqueray is what I like. Chuck Tanqueray got it right 180 years ago. You can’t get it wrong now.
Tequilas: Any bar worth its salt has to have a bottle of Patron Silver. It’s crystal-clear, ultra-premium agave zoot-juice. If you’ve not had this, you’re an amateur. I also wanted quality tequila for mixing and went with El Jimador. You’ll find this on a lower shelf at the store. But, don’t let that fool you. It, too, is 100 percent agave. It’s the number-one selling bottle in Mexico, and I figure they know something about it.
Etc... Now, sometimes a person wants something a little less in strength or just because, darn it, it’s good.
The Irish Crème on top is Saint Brendan’s. It’s made in Derry, Northern Ireland and rumor has it the extra enthusiasm comes from a little distillery in Bushmill.
Copa De Oro is a coffee liqueur that’s made from Mexican arabica beans and vanilla. It’s a 42 proof and actually tastes…like coffee. Imagine that.
Lazzaroni Ameretto is the same stuff that the famous cookies in the red-and-orange tin come from. It’s an almond liqueur that’s been an expression of cultura Italiano since 1851.
Those are the high points of it. Naturally, you’ll want to supply all of the usual juices, sodas and mixers. And you’ll get all of the appropriate glasses, carafes and swizzle sticks. Surely you won’t forget the salt, olives and cherries.
When all was said and done, I ended up with a decent little pub I can invite my friends to and be proud of. Go-go boots are encouraged.