Your checklist for a well-stocked home bar

make your own cocktails at home

Louise Baxter

Posted August 24, 2021


As stay-at-home orders come and go in Victoria, it’s a good excuse to get your liquor cabinet sorted.

There’s no reason to miss out on Friday drinks if you’ve got a well-stocked bar at your fingertips.

While responsible consumption of alcohol is paramount, pandemic or not, a sophisticated tipple is a pastime enjoyed for generations – and a fun touchstone while we’re stuck inside.

Here is a list of liquor essentials for your cocktail hour, with a focus of local varieties to order online and support Victorian producers. Win, win! 


Vodka

Why you need it: No home bar is worth its salt without this staple spirit. Good-quality vodka is a smooth, neutral and versatile liquor that will go with most mixers, from soda and tonic water to juice and bitters.

What it’s good for: You also can’t go wrong with vodka for a boozy brunch. Give classic cocktails like the Gimlet, Moscow Mule or Screwdriver a go and if you don’t feel like making your own mixture, try the Bloody Mary Vodka by Craft & Co in Collingwood.

Where to get it:

Gin

Why you need it: Once known as ‘mother’s ruin’, the humble gin has become an exciting and delicious modern drink, with many Victorian distilleries doing great things with native Australian botanicals.

What it’s good for: Pair gin simply with a zesty mixer or enjoy on its own.

Where to get it:

make your own cocktails at home

Being at home doesn't mean being without delicious cocktails. Image: Getty.


Whisky/Whiskey

Why you need it: This beloved spirit has a wide range of options that can make selection seem overwhelming – but if you know the differences, you can cater to your tastes. There’s the highly mixable American bourbon and Canadian whisky varieties; spicy rye whiskey, which suit many classic cocktails; and Irish whiskey or Scotch, which are smooth and highly drinkable – particularly single malt.

What it’s good for: A quality whisky will always stand on its own, whether served neat or on the rocks.

Where to get it:

Rum

Why you need it: Two rums are better than one – stocking your cabinet with both a white and dark rum, you’ll be able to make a range of different cocktails throughout the year.

What it’s good for: Spiced rum is warming in winter or try a Dark ‘n’ Stormy for a lime and ginger zing. White rum is great in summery cocktails and punches.

Where to get it:

dirty martini

Martini- shaken, not stirred. Image: Getty.


Brandy

Why you need it: The ultimate statement of sophistication, brandy is a definitive classic in the refined liquor cabinet.

What it’s good for: It’s typically served after dinner as a digestif, but its aged caramel notes make it lush in a cocktail, too.

Where to get it:

Tequila/Agave spirits

Why you need it: More of a niche inclusion, agave-based spirits such as tequila and mezcal, can be difficult to find from Australian producers as it’s a Mexican speciality grown from native agave weeds. However, there are some local craft distillers turning their hands to the rich and robust liquor.

What it’s good for: Much like whisky or gin, a smoky, aged tequila is best sipped and enjoyed – perhaps with a little lemon or lime on the side.

Where to get it:

And if there’s a particular spirit you like, perhaps the next step is turning your liquor cabinet into a well-heeled collection of favourites. 


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