FYI: This is an archive of my Tonight's Negroni email newsletter.
Confession: I am a compulsive collector.
Thankfully, this doesn't generally manifest itself as hoarding, although those of you who knew my compact disc collection might beg to differ. No, instead I tend to become obsessed with a particular category of object and decide I need one. Or a couple. Or several.
Examples are almost to numerous to list. Care to guess how many fountain pens I have? How about straight razors? You should see the stack of empty Field Notes notebooks in my office! Oh, and you know I've recently acquired a record player, right? Colored vinyl is just so pretty!
But, here's the thing: This compulsive collecting of mine kind of makes me a badass "Stay at Home Bartender"!
At-home bar tending has led to five "collections" that I can differentiate, four primary in my mind and one ancillary.
Allow me to explain (It's a newsletter after all... I have to write something.):
Shakers, strainers, jiggers and spoons! I love this stuff!
Whether you grab the holiday "bottle of booze and two glasses" boxed sets at the packy (liquor store for those of you not exposed to New England culture) or go combing through consignment shops and yard sales for vintage glass, you are going to at least need some cocktail, rocks and Collins/highball glasses.
Then you can start thinking about whisky nosing glasses, Tiki mugs, Julep cups, Moscow Mule mugs, and so on and so forth.
I am also a compulsive collector of knowledge! I still like physical books more than electronic media for learning recipes and cocktail history, but I'm also following a dozen booze blogs, so there you have that... My essentials:
- Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails - my favorite cocktail book, bar none.
- Imbibe and Punch by Grand Poobah Bartender Dave Wondrich.
- The PDT Cocktail Book is filled with awesome cocktails with great info when their version is a variation of a classic.
- The Art of the Shim, which focuses on delicious low-alcohol cocktails.
I mean... Right? The one thing that is absolutely required to make cocktails is liquor! (I'm including bitters here, FYI. I have an ever-expanding collection of those alone...)
By my calculation, the barest of bars should have six or seven bottles: gin, whiskey, dry and sweet vermouth, aromatic and orange bitters, and (optionally, if you're lame) Campari. What's the fun in that, though?! I typically expand each of those by a factor of at least three, and then move well beyond those basic categories.
The good news here is that these are consumables. They go away after a while. Then you either get some counter space back or have an opportunity to try something new. My bottle collection is admittedly ridiculous, but at least I'm able to maintain a slightly reasonable level of ridiculousness.
My last collection kind of ruins that "consumable" benefit.
Since I've gotten into doing DIY projects like infused vodka, tonic syrup, pimento dram and bitters, I've started building a large pile of various bottles and containers. I buy new, and I reuse bottles I like (removing labels can be harder than you'd think, BTW). It's not much of a problem when they are filled with stuff, but it's a bit awkward when they aren't.
It also occurs to me that my status as a hobbyist "mixologist" (not terribly fond of that label, but it's common enough, I guess) has caused me to collect acquaintances, which I actually find to be the best part.
I already talked about that a bit, though.
- 1.5oz Campari
1.5oz sweet vermouth (Nothing too fancy. I used Dolin Rouge.)
- Add ingredients and ice to a highball glass.
- Top with soda water.
Apparently this drink used to be called a Milano-Torino until booze loving American tourist made it seem like a good idea to rename it. So there's that.