Home Bar Essentials

Below, the Gintender has compiled a list of home bar essentials.  If you’ve taken one of the mixology classes at Wisdom or Church & State, this list should be familiar to you!

Photo by flickr user: miamism

Essential Base spirits:

1. Vodka — Smirnoff
2. Gin — Beefeater
3. Rum — Bacardi
4. Whiskey — Blantons
5. Triple sec
6. Tequila (100% agave)
7. Dry Vermouth — Noilly Pratt
8. Sweet Vermouth — Dolin
9. Bitters (angostura & orange)

**Additional mixing ingredients**

Liqueurs (fruit & herbal)


Hawthorn strainer
Knife/cutting board
Citrus juicer
Fine mesh strainer

General rules:

1. Too much alcohol destroys a cocktail
2. Too much sweetness destroys a cocktail
3. Seek balance


Between The Sheets
Corpse Revivor #2
Kir Royale (You can substitute Chambord)
Negroni (I prefer more gin and less Campari)
Ramos Gin Fizz
Petit Zinc
Gin Fizz vs Tom Collins vs Ricky

Internet resources


**Have a question and would like to share some advice?  Post a comment below or email the Gintender at dcwisdom@gmail.com**

How To Order A Martini

Courtesy Creative Commons Flickr User: wickenden


1. Choose your favorite brand of gin or vodka (obviously we recommend gin).

2. Choose your gin/vodka to vermouth ratio:

  • Bone Dry= No Vermouth
  • Dry= 11/1
  • Regular= 5/1
  • Wet=3/1
  • Dirty= Add olive brine
  • Perfect= Sweet and dry vermouth


3. Garnish

  • None
  • Olives
  • Lemon twist
  • Onion

4. Enjoy!

Ice Best Practices

Peter recently wrote the Gintender to ask:

What is your philosophy on the use of ice in cocktails? A traditional up gin martini chilled as close to freezing as possible approaches perfection for me. Ice is used imperfectly in most bars – from under-chilled martinis to stale cubes made from poor-quality water that imparts bad flavor.

Great question Peter!

Ice without a doubt is one of the most mentioned topics in neo-cocktail bars. The skinny of the argument is that the best ice (not wet ice) will chill your cocktail yet not water it down. There is a lot of talk and the trend in most super hip and high-end cocktail spots seems to be using ice blocks and shaving them down to size for a drink. In fact, this is the way cocktails were originally crafted.

The link you sent (http://tinyurl.com/mnvfka) is for an apparatus that takes a square block of ice and molds it into a perfect solid sphere, suited for drinking scotch or Bourbon, preventing as much melting as possible. I completely understand and respect this technique (although I don’t have a few thousand dollars lying around in order to purchase one for Wisdom at the moment).

However, I will go on record and disagree with 99% of mixologists out there and say that I personally prefer wet ice in my shaken Gin or vodka martinis. I like to lower the proof of my Gin or even vodka martinis from 80 or above proof to a range in the upper 60s/low 70s. I do this by drinking them wet (1oz of vermouth) and using a tin filled with wet ice rather than 3/4 full (I use a shaker 3/4 full to shake cocktails with mixed ingredients including juices and liqueurs that do not need to be lowered in proof.) That’s my opinion and my experience…and I don’t think that makes me as a wuss or an amateur. I have been drinking cocktails most days of the week for the last several years. Clearly the best ice for a drink is not a stone-cold fact.

For home use I would recommend filtering the water you use for your ice (through a Britta or similar device) and tr not to have anything with potent smells in your freezer because ice can absorb odor. I would also dump the ice in your shaker after each use. Personally, I think reusing ice can water down an otherwise good cocktail. I also recommend chilling the martini glass with ice and some water prior to pouring your shaken and strained creation into it.

A word about GIN styles

London Dry Gin — Dry, pure style originally made exclusively in London and appeared soon after the invention of the continuous still, which enabled production of a nearly pure spirit.  The high distillation strength removed unpleasant flavors found in earlier gins allowing this new form to be sold unsweetened or ‘dry’. Today a ‘London dry’ style gin may be legally produced anywhere in the world.

Jenever –Original Dutch Spirit that is the precursor to today’s gin.  Also known as Genever, Geneva and Holland’s, it retains more of the flavor of rye, barley & corn with which it is made and therefore is rightly separated into its own category.

Old Tom Gin — Sweet style of gin popular in the 18th & 19th century which masked the rough flavors of the distilled liquor of earlier, less efficient stills.

Plymouth — Plymouth Gin can only be produced in Plymouth using water from Dartmoor.  It is a light and very mixable Gin.

Xoriguer — Spanish gin that can only be made on the island of Menorca.

Note: Blue Coat is labeled as an “American Dry Gin”, which is a term that they created.  Since the gin is made in the states they do not have to follow the European laws (EU Appellation) and made up this term, which in essence is in the style of a Premium London Dry, but made in America…perfect for their motto “Assert your independence.”


Why GIN over VODKA?

Simply put, gin is basically a neutral spirit, (high strength vodka) flavored predominantly with juniper and various seeds, berries, roots, fruits and herbs. Under EU legislation the name ‘gin’ means any flavored spirit over 37.5% alcohol by volume which includes some juniper. There are two classifications: ‘gin’ and ‘distilled gin’.
Distilled gins are always of the best quality whereas straight ‘gin’ can be correlated to ‘bath tub gin’ and are always inferior. MOST GIN enthusiasts realize that vodka is simply unfinished Gin…Vodka or “little water” is meant to taste like nothing, where as Gin has character. A good mixologist will 9 times out of 10 reach for Gin over vodka as their blank canvas. When crafting a cocktail, if you understand the particular essence and flavor profile of a particular gin, one can create a truly special libation where the botanicals “pop” and compliment the mixers and other liqueurs. In most vodka cocktails, you are simply trying to mask the alcohol taste.
“Gin is true magic, whereas vodka’s only trick is to disappear.” –The Gintender