Stock Your Home Bar with These 7 Essential Ingredients

October 9, 2020 | Entertaining

Once the hard work of moving is over, and your new house is starting to look more like home, you can enjoy the more fun elements of settling in. One of the best parts of buying a home in Essex County is settling into your new space. With a few personal details, you’ll turn a bland, empty room into a fun and inviting space that’s perfect for entertaining.

Whether you’re planning on having family over soon or just want to make your evenings at home a bit more decadent, a home bar is a great place to start. Whether you have a purpose-built piece of furniture or simply use a shelf or area of your kitchen, it’s all about what comes out of it, rather than how it looks.

With a few simple ingredients, you can serve a huge variety of cocktails that rival any bar in town. The key is buying a few high-quality basics, then adding in extras and specialty ingredients as needed. Once you have a solid stash of basic ingredients you can get creative, serving up dozens of different delicious drinks that will always go down easy.


7 Essential Ingredients for Your Home Bar

Even if you prefer not to drink some of these different alcohols, we believe it’s still worth having them around to serve to guests, or to use as an accent in a cocktail.

Once they’re opened, most alcohols above 40% ABV (80 proof) should be consumed within 8-12 months. They’ll still be drinkable after that, but their taste dulls and they start to lose flavour. Anything under 40% ABV, like the vermouth and orange liqueur on the list below, goes off much faster and should be consumed in 6 months or less. When in doubt, do a smell test, and check to see whether there’s anything crystallized or floating in the bottle.

With some creativity, we think you can easily use up every last sip of these ingredients.


1. Vodka

Long prized as a ‘tasteless’ alcohol, one of the best features of vodka is that it fits well with many different flavour profiles. It can also be made from many different base ingredients, including grain, potatoes, and even grapes. Due to the way it’s distilled, vodka tastes, essentially, neutral. However, many craft distilleries across Canada are rethinking this spirit, and are making vodkas with unique natural flavour profiles that acknowledge or even celebrate the spirit’s base ingredient.

Vodka is the primary ingredient in the classic vodka martini, the Moscow Mule, and the Cosmopolitan. It can also be infused with natural fruits, herbs, or even vegetables and flowers to create a delicious flavored vodka at home.


2. Gin

Gin is a neutral spirit that has been flavoured with juniper. Like vodka, it can be made with many different base ingredients, but in the second phase of distilling, the flavourless alcohol is infused with botanicals that give it its signature flavour.

In the past, traditional ‘London Dry’-style gins emphasized this juniper flavour at the expense of almost all other botanicals. However, in recent years gin has been making a comeback, and part of that popularity is due to the creative ways that distillers are using botanicals. You can now find gins that have been flavoured with green tea, kelp, mint, and even frankincense and myrrh.


3. Vermouth

Vermouth is an aromatized fortified wine that’s flavoured with various herbs and spices. It’s not typically consumed on its own, but is a key ingredient in many classic cocktails including the Negroni, the Gibson, and the Manhattan.

There are two different types of vermouth most commonly found on the market today. Sweet vermouth is typically made with a white wine base and is a rich, sweet accompaniment to aged spirits. Dry vermouth is made without sugar, and has a flavour that’s tart, herbal, or even fruity. It’s most often found alongside white or pale liquors like gin and vodka.


4. Whisky

There’s so much to say about whisky, also called whiskey, depending on what style you’re talking about. Canada is famous for its rye whisky, which is made from various cereal grains and aged in wooden barrels. Scotland, Ireland, and the southern United States are also huge whisky, bourbon, and scotch producers.

Many bartenders believe rye whiskey to be the best malted, aged spirit for making cocktails, while bourbon and scotch are best saved for drinking on their own. 40 Creek and Canadian Club are both classics, and mix well with other liquors in drinks like an Old Fashioned or Manhattan.


5. Rum

Surely, a drink made from fermented, distilled sugarcane liquid shouldn’t be as tasty as rum. This sweet liquor is distilled from the sugarcane, then aged in oak barrels until it takes on a deeper flavour. Rum ranges in grades from light to dark, and can be spiced, flavoured, or infused with different ingredients like caramel, cinnamon, and pepper.

Gold, dark, or premium rum is typically sipped on the rocks, while light rum tends to be cheaper, and is more popular for mixed drinks like a Daiquiri, Mojito, or rum punch.


6. Orange Liqueur

Orange liqueur is a sweet alcohol or liqueur made from any spirit that has been flavoured with orange. Typically, it’s a lower proof (around 20-40% ABV), with a sweet, syrupy taste. There are many different varieties on the market today, but the most popular include curaçao, Grand Marnier, and triple sec. Many popular drinks like the Margarita and Long Island Iced Tea use some type of orange liqueur.


7. Bitters

Bitters are a unique cocktail ingredient that was originally developed as a style of medicinal tonics. These bitter, often savoury liquids are used to add complexity and balance to a huge variety of cocktails. The theory is that since the primary ingredients in cocktails are often either sweet or sour, the taste of bitters helps round out the flavour profile.

Bitters can be flavoured with anything from quinine bark to orange, coffee, tea, and more. The two most popular types of bitters are Peychaud’s bitters and Angostura bitters.


Host Your Next Event at Home Thanks to Our Windsor Real Estate Agents

Now that you’ve got the bar taken care of, all you’ll need is a place to host your next event. Our Windsor real estate agents can help you look through listings and private houses for sale to find the best option for your family.

Give us a call today to learn more about how we can help you settle into the Windsor-Essex area.

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