I really enjoy drinking and especially mixing cocktails. While I have never worked as a bartender professionally, I like running the bar at parties and mixing drinks for friends and myself on relaxed evenings. When I’m drinking, I usually share the creation on Twitter under
#ps0cktail and on this weird drinking social network called Swig. Whatever the fuck that is good for.
Over the years my bar shelf dubbed „Lambda“ (as seen in fig. 1) has acquired quite a few bottles and I’ve shaken a good share of different drinks now. While I celebrate the acquisition of a new spirit through making a couple of new cocktails that the new liquor now enabled me to mix, there is a compact set of classics I always return to. My all time favorites include Gimlet (Bombay Sapphire), Gin and Tonic (Broker’s, Monkey 47), Whiskey Sour (Maker’s Mark), Old Fashioned (Maker’s Mark, good Single Malt) and Daquiri (Barbados Ron). As you might notice a pattern here, Gin and Whiskey are my favorite spirits.
As a sidenote: I have written a small ruby script to generate a cocktail menu sorted by spirit and drink category, a bar keeper cheat sheet and a shopping list from a yaml list of cocktails. I used to to generate the menus for a birthday party where I was to organize the bar and wrote it more for fun than actual need, but maybe it is useful for someone else? You can get the script, example files and resulting menus here.
For those who are interested in getting into cocktails and bar culture, here are some places you can look for resources.
- Cocktailian is a book by German bar culture magazine Mixology. Despite its slightly silly cover it is a tremendously well designed and written book. It not only lists all important recipes, but also tells the stories behind them, historical variations as well as a history of spirits, an intro to bar tendering technique and essays around bar culture by well known mixologists. If anything, get this one!
- Schumann’s Bar is a well known classic in the scene and lists many well balanced recipes, even though it strikes me as a bit old fashioned.
- The Bartending Wikibook could be improved.
- Mixology Magazine is a German magazine of bar culture.
- Recipes and more
- Cocktails & Dreams is the biggest German cocktail community and recipe database. But the site is utterly old.
- About.com Cocktails is a good place to look up classic cocktail recipes.
- The good old Wikipedia has these two lists on cocktails: List of IBA official cocktails and List of cocktails.
- Absolut Vodka has a beautiful and extensive cocktail database called Absolut Drinks.
- GINspiration is a German site dedicated to all things gin.
- YouTube channel Cocktail Chemistry Lab has some nice tips and tricks.
- Jörg Meyer’s Blog shares recipes and behind the scenes stories of managing a acclaimed classic bar.
- Jeffrey Morgenthaler is a professional bartender and author who shares recipes and background knowledge. His Playboy column Drink Already is also worth a read. He’s also hosting a beautiful video series, The Morgenthaler Method.
- German lemonade manufacturer Thomas Henry has a great Drinks Section on their site.
- Shopping and research
The G&T is one of my absolute favorites. I’ve tested quite a few.
|1724||Doctor Polidori’s Cucumber||Fentimans||Fever-Tree||Fever-Tree Mediterranian||Gents||Monaco||Schweppes||Thomas Henry||Thomas Henry Elderflower|
|Star of Bombay|
From time to time there comes a moment where I find myself having to (or wanting to) improvise a drink. The recipes might be not perfectly balanced and I encourage everyone to tweak and fiddle! :)
Because I was given one by a guest I wanted to create an easy-on party drink with eggplant. The name is a play on Planter’s Punch, but has nothing to do with it. It dates to 2015-09-19.
|2 cl||Lemon juice|
- In a shaker full of ice, muddle eggplant.
- Shake with vodka and lemon juice.
- Pour into longdrink glass filled with crushed ice, fill with ginger ale.
- Garnish with a basil leaf.
If you want to get started with your own home bar, but don’t know what to buy, let me give you some recommendations. This is a shopping list for a very basic set of bottles which should equip you to mix some all-time-classics while being not overly expensive. When you found your favorite drinks or want to try something new, you can use this as a starting point and buy more bottles from there.
Drinks mixable with this list include: Gimlet, Gin and Tonic, Gin Sour, Gin Fizz, Negroni, Martini, London Buck (Moscow Mule), Gin Basil Smash, Whiskey Sour, Whiskey Smash, Manhattan, Old Fashioned, Horse’s Neck, Presbyterian, Mojito, Daiquiri, Caipirinha, Cuba Libre, and more.
- Gordon’s (11€ per 700ml) for all kinds of gin drinks that don’t call for something special like Gin Sour
- Bombay Sapphire (16€ per 700ml) is a cheap higher class gin and an well known classic. I love it’s Gimlet, some like it in the G&T.
- Broker’s (13€ per 700ml) is a very good Gin and Tonic liquor but not really a must.
- Havana Club 3 years (13€ per 700ml) is a good and cheap white rum for all kinds of rum cocktails.
- Other spirits
- Campari (12€ per 700ml) is a bitter used in a lot of drinks, especially the Negroni
- Angostura Bitter (13€ per 200ml) is the classic cocktail bitter used in a variety of drinks like Old Fashioned, Martini, and Manhattan.
- Noilly Prat Dry Vermouth is a good vermouth for a Martini. If you don’t want to spend that much, you can also go for Martini (the brand) or Cinzano.
- Noilly Prat Rouge Vermouth is a good vermouth for a Negroni or Manhattan. Again, you can use Martini or Cinzano if you like.
- Syrups and fillers
- Monin Simple Syrup (5€ per 1000ml) is definitely where you should go for the full liter as you will need it often. You could also make your own simple syrup.
- Rose’s Lime Juice Cordial (3€ per 750ml) is simply the best for the Gimlet.
- Thomas Henry Tonic Water (3€ per 1000ml) is the best all round tonic water out there.
- Ginger Ale (Thomas Henry, Schweppes) is a good addition to the Mojito and used in the Presbyterian and Horse’s Neck.
- Ginger Beer (Thomas Henry Spicy Ginger) for the London Buck (Moscow Mule)
- Soda (carbonated water) for fizzes.
- Fruit and Herbs. Squeeze them fresh, don’t buy juice (put in the freezer for stock)
- Mint is perfect for growing outside.
- Basil is perfect for growing inside.
- Maraschino Cherry for garnish in Old Fashioned and Manhattan. You can get any brand and keep in the fridge forever.
All spirits together sum up to around 140€ at Conalco; you can expect to pay a bit more at a local shop. Together with a couple of fruits and fillers you should land at about 160 bucks. This might sound like a lot, but trust me, a lot of these bottles last for ages and they are a very solid foundation.
To build on top of that, I would suggest for getting next: A dark rum (maybe just Captain Morgan?), a vodka like Absolut, some triple sec (probably Cointreau), a tequila which I have no clue about, and of course more gin, something like Monkey 47 or Hendrik’s.
Since cocktails are not only about taste but also looks, you want some nice glasses to pour them into. Also I’ve got a thing for glassware.
For the most basic longdrinks with high volume I simply use IKEA Pokal as they are cheap and have the college bar style.
For high class longdrinks I have two sets of glasses. Nachtmann’s Vivendi Longdrink glass, which I love for their thin walls and subtle curvature. Then there’s Leonardo’s Bibita which I couldn’t find anymore on the manufacturers page. I’ve had a Gin and Tonic out of glasses this simple straight form in a G&T-only bar in Berlin Friedrichstraße and had been searching for that exact look ever since.
My Martini glasses are from Butlers on sale. They are nothing special but do their job perfectly.
I also got a saucer style stemmed cocktail glass from Butlers and it works just fine.
Tumblers I also got a couple. I got Butlers High Classic on sale and like it’s look. Then I have a very simple and classic Schott Zwiesel Whisky Iceberg 60. And of course there is a Nachtmann Noblesse Whisky Set consisting of two tumblers and a decanter (see fig. 2) sitting on top of my bar shelf, filled with a nice single malt and ready to clink.