Thursday, December 9, 2010

Essential Liquor #30

#30) Cognac - The Royalty of classic brown liquors includes champagne, scotch, and cognac, each of which can be incredibly expensive in their own right. Joe should not despair, however, decent cognac for mixing can be had in the $30 range at certain times of the year, like Hennessy at a liquor warehouse. Otherwise, good cognac is like good scotch; a premium bottle might cost $50, but will last a long time even among Wisconsinites. My favorite mid-range is Martell VSOP Médaillon.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Essential Liquor #29

29) Jägermeister - While not on the original idea list for the 30 Essentials that I drew up last spring, I had to add it given the strength of demand for Jägerbombs in today's bars. A real bar simply cannot have a party with energy drink mixers and not have Jäger on hand to complement. Besides, Jägermeister is a flexible ingredient, adding a light spicy touch to three liquor blends and pleasant anise backing to iced-down shots. Those interested in developing a taste for the anise-dominant liqueurs of Europe but do not yet enjoy black licorice would do best to start their herbal taste immersions with Jäger.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Essential Liquor #28

#28) Melon Liqueur - Our last liqueur in the 30 Essentials series is melon liqueur.
Sweet, but not sickly sweet, melon liqueur is a surprisingly wonderful mixer that blends interestingly with unobvious bed-fellows like cream. Consider the crazy combination that is the Jedi Mind Trick - melon, cinnamon schnapps, Bailey's, and 151. I don't think that I have ordered a Jedi Mind Trick at a bar where the bartender didn't ask, "Ah, are you sure?" However, every bartender who then tried one always appreciated it afterwards. Melon liqueur is often one of three ingredients in any cocktail, so Joe can buy Dekuyper here or Midori for more class.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Essential Liquor #27

#27) Irish Cream - Every Wisconsin Winterfest, approximately 15 winters, has had Baileys in the fridge (or two). Core to the cement mixer tradition at Winterfest III, Baileys continued to be integral in party feature drinks from the Abortion to the Slippery Nipple to the immortal Jedi Mind Trick. Joe might wince at the $20 price tag for Baileys, but really the other Irish creams are not as consistent in mixing as Baileys. Carolans is close, but doesn't quite deliver the honey thickness. O'Darby's is nice, but adds a hint of chocolate that clashes with some recipes. Just buy Bailey's and be done.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Essential Liquor #26

#26) Bourbon - We have already assembled our North American whiskeys and our scotch, all that's left is a good bourbon. We grow mint in abundance here in Arena, so a hot summer's day requires bourbon for our mint juleps. The classic julep is a hardcore drink, essentially bourbon and ice water, but after beginning a deck-lounging julep tradition this summer, it is one of the few drinks I actually crave. Unlike tequila, there are tons of quality cost-effective bourbons out there - Maker's Mark, Bulleit, and Eagle Rare to name a few.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Essential Liquor #25

#25) Tequila - Ah, tequila. Literally everyone has a story. For that reason, it is important to select your tequila stock carefully. Cheap tequila conjures up images of dry heaving on the bathroom floor just by its smell alone, and you can't get the average Wisconsinite to drink a glass of expensive tequila neat, because, well, it's tequila. So Joe needs to have premium tequila that's not to costly to mix. Forget Cuervo, we like Corralejo Blanco or Reposado here in the Lounge. It makes for a solid addition to Cointreau for a great margarita.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Essential Liquor #24

#24) Frangelico - Here Joe is looking at a $20 or so bottle of liqueur. But, hey, coffee has been very popular through the 1990s-2000s, especially with women and few liqueurs love coffee like Frangelico.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Essential Liquor #23

#23) Apple Brandy or Calvados - If you would have asked us to concoct this list just a year ago, apple brandy wouldn't have come close to make the cut. I had just an ancient bottle of Calvados (dry apple brandy) that was seven-eighths full, because no one would drink it. Then, we got on a 1920s kick and the Calvados has only a couple ounces remaining!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Essential Liquor #22

#22) Canadian Whiskey - We have a ton of Canadian whiskeys in Wisconsin. Why not just use the American stuff for your 30 Essentials?

Friday, August 20, 2010

Essential Liquor #21

#21) Brandy - If you are a Wisconsinite and brandy does not make the 30 Essentials list, they should run you out of the state on a rail. Korbel is what we drink in the state and it is about as ubiquitous as Miller Lite. While I have no problem with Korbel (we have three bottles of various sizes here), we have a number of others in the Lounge.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Essential Liquor #20

#20) Crème de Menthe - I believe I have had the same bottle of crème de menthe since Winterfest IV. Like chocolate and peach, a little mint goes a long way. Unfortunately, Wisconsin's mint palate since the 1970s has been dominated by peppermint and menthol schnapps, both of which are virtually unmixable. Not so with crème de menthe which has been employed and enjoyed in the U.S. since the 1800s.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Essential Liquor #19

#19) Crème de Cacao - Like curaçao, this is a liqueur whose name gets totally butchered. Two pronunciations are correct. The first pronunciation is the one tosses around here at the Firewater Lounge, phonetically ca-cow. The other is a bit more classy, phonetically ca-kay-o. Likely you will hear, "Grab me the bottle of chocolate" as often as anything.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Essential Liquor #18

#18 Coffee Liqueur - Like vodka (and unlike other liqueurs), coffee liqueur comes in a variety of brands, sweetness, and textures. The Firewater Lounge has stocked several tasty ones including the smooth-textured Kahlua, the affordable Kamora, the bitter Starbucks, the lighter Tia Maria, and the overproof Sabra. Obviously, Joe's choice would have to be the sweet and versatile Kamora, a mainstay at the Lounge since 1995.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Essential Liquor #17

#17) Stoli Vodka - Of course we have a grand selection of vodka brands to chose from for our common Joe, from Smirnoff to Vox to Skyy to Absolut to Grey Goose to Belvedere and countless others, we picked Stolichnaya for its clean taste and affordable price. Tastes and price vary, of course, so find your favorite and buy it.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Essential Liquor #16

#16) Peach Schnapps - Our first true schnapps on the list is a ladies' staple. It is absolutely necessary for the classic girl intoxicators such as the Fuzzy Navel, Sex on the Beach,and the Red Headed Slut. Unlike many of its ilk, peach is a versatile schnapps, just remember that a little goes a long way.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Essential Liquor #15

#15) Southern Comfort - I cannot remember a summer in the 2000s where we didn't drink a bottle of Southern Comfort. This is one of my dad's liquors, a simple change of pace from his customary supper club Brandy Old Fashioned Sweet. Simply remove the brandy and insert SoCo - voila... the Southern Comfort Old Fashioned.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Essential Liquor #14

#14) Light Rum - While not as flavorful as dark rum, light rum is a prerequisite for tropical drinks whose color is provided by the fruit. It also allows for the crushed mint and crystal look of the classic mojito.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Essential Liquor #13

#13) Dark Rum - Obviously a general rum will also be a requirement for any decent bar. We'll start at the dark end. A ton of choices are available, of course. We suggest that Joe goes Cruzan, it's solid for its price, especially if you buy it in the 1.75 L.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Essential Liquor #12

#12) Coconut Rum - We have a large selection of coconut rum here at the Firewater Lounge from the ubiquitous Malibu to Cruzan to Parrot Bay. But one of our favorites is Whalers. In the summer, we typically go through a couple of bottles of Whalers; I guess you could call it our wine. Whalers, however, is too sweet for you to have has your mixing coconut rum, so choose from one of the three aforementioned.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Essential Liquor #11

#11) American Whiskey - A bar without Jack Daniel's is like a farm without a dog. It's not absolutely necessary, but, if absent, you notice that it's not around.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Essential Liquor #10

#10) Benedictine- This herbal liqueur is a relative newcomer to the Firewater Lounge, but an old Wisconsin favorite. Given that the other monastic liqueurs like Izarra, Claristine, and the immortal Chartreuse are notably absent from Sconnie shelves, why is Benedictine so popular in the rural supper clubs?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Essential Liquor #9

9) Parfait Amour- Parfait what? Our second headscratcher of the list. Seriously though, if you have partied at our pad in the last three years, this sweet concoction of oranges, flower blossoms, and Madagascar vanilla goes down like water. In addition to its taste, its royal purple hue is beyond compare. Parfait Amour is the main player in such Lounge inventions as the Midnight Cherry Popper and the Savannah Night. To stock Winterfest, we are buying three bottles at a time!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Essential Liquor #8

#8) Disaronno Amaretto- If you plan to entertain women, Disaronno needs to be in the bar. The sweet palate of almond lends itself to all kinds of wonderful concoctions- including the Firewater Lounge classic Pineapple Bomb. Disaronno might be a bit pricey for Joe, but the ladies are worth it. If you Mohawk it, you’ll taste nothing but simple sugar, which you can make from sugar and water for pennies.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Essential Liquor #7

#7) Triple Sec- Historically, its name meant ‘triple dry,’ this orange liqueur was less sweet than regular curacao. At the bar of the common Joe, cost-effective triple sec is simply blue curacao without the color. Why is it important?

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Essential Liquor #6

#6) Blue Curacao - Pronounced cure-a-so, this sugary orange flavored liqueur should be chosen, not by brand, but by color.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Essential Liquor #5

#5) Herbsaint- Never heard of it? Well, it’s got to be in your bar. Louisiana in the 1800s was the U.S. king of absinthe. Then the government decided to ban absinthe for nearly 100 years from 1915-2007. So, in 1934, an enterprising tag team of J.M. Legendre and Reginald Parker of New Orleans created absinthe without its offending ingredient- wormwood. Of course, the government stormed back in to stop this absinthe too. So they simply changed the name to Herbsaint. In my opinion, it’s tastier that anything the French have.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Essential Liquor #4

#4) A single malt scotch- Everyone is going to have a favorite here. Smokiness, sweetness, and varying amounts of peat drive the myriad of favors of single malt scotch. My favorites tend to be sweeter, Dalwhinnie and The Glenrothes being among them, by virtue of my predilection of Rusty Nails. The one I would recommend here is The Glenlivet 12 year. It is a solid scotch for most scotch drinkers and, for $35, it is cheap enough to mix.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Welcome to The Firewater Lounge

In a response to our bar book, Stiff had made a request that I simply couldn’t refuse- list the top 30 essential liquors you need to have in your bar. Believe it or not, it actually was easier than I thought. I stuck to three rules: 1) The average Joe should be able to purchase the booze without taking a second mortgage out on the house, 2) Beer, wine, and champagne are not liquors, 3) Versatility matters.

Now, in teaser style, we are going to give you the first three liquors in this post and then unveil them a liquor at a time until we get to thirty! Each post we’ll give you a new drink that can be made from the growing list of liquors. So empty the change from your couch cushions, get to Woodman’s, and buy…