Basic cocktail ingredients for your (home) bar
A home bar should be well-stocked with ingredients to use. But what do you stock your home bar with? What basic cocktail ingredients do you need to create a large variety of cocktails at home?
In this article, we will list some of the basic cocktail ingredients you need to create wonderful drinks at your home bar.
Citrus fruits come in all shapes & sizes and are by far the most used fruits in cocktails. We're talking lemons, limes, oranges etc. All of these have a set place in the cocktail world. Cocktails like slings, sours, Collins are all examples of cocktails containing fair quantities of citrus juices of some sort. Start with your basic lemon or lime juice. These will be the juices you use the most in cocktails. Use freshly squeezed juices (preferably squeeze yourself) and avoid using concentrated juices. These tend to have a chemical taste to them.
Sugar is essential when making cocktails. Not only for the sweetness to balance acidic ingredients such as lemon- or lime juice, but also for giving a cocktail body. The most common sugar to use in cocktails is refined sugar. Cane sugar comes to a respectable second place. You can also make sugar syrup, which will make it easier for you to add sweetness to the cocktails. Check out our blog to learn how to make different kinds of cocktail syrups.
To make delicious creamy cocktails, you need to have cream of some sort in your arsenal. Milk can be used but will not make your cocktail as creamy as other creams. Using heavy cream usually makes your cocktail slightly too thick and will rather give the cocktail the consistency of a milkshake. An equal combination of milk and heavy cream is commonly used behind the bar. This is called half & half. Half milk and half heavy cream. Keep it stored in your fridge and it can be used for up to three days.
Herbs, spices & bitters
Bitters are a bartender's spice rack. I'm sure you've heard this before. And it is true. Bitters are liquid heavily infused herbs and spices that, when used properly, give cocktails extra depth and dimension. There are many flavors and kinds to choose from.
Now you can also use herbs and spices directly in your cocktail. There's also a difference in using dried or fresh herbs and spices. Fresh ingredients give an extra freshness as well as taste to your cocktail but are not typically consistent in flavor. Dried ingredients on the other hand might not give your cocktail the freshness you pursue, but in turn, it will consistently give you the same flavors. Read our blog on cocktail bitters to learn more about bitters and how to make them.
Now obviously you need alcohol to make cocktails. And man, where do you start? The alcohol world is vast and is in times somewhat overwhelming if you want to buy a bottle to use. When starting out in making cocktails at home, don't overthink it. Start with your basic spirits and liqueurs and based on experience, you can try out some new stuff. Vodka, Gin, Rum, Tequila, Bourbon, Triple Sec. With these six spirits, you can make countless cocktails. And once you've explored the beautiful world of cocktail making with these bottles, branch out and pick out one bottle of something new to try out.
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