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A Spontaneous Libation for your Consideration

From the Knowledge Vault

Building a Better Bar

In many ways, my home bar is an extension of my passion for cooking. Years ago, when vanilla beans were on sale, I’d make vanilla extract for friends or flavored vodkas with weird ingredients that I’d invariably take a sip of and shove into the back of the pantry. Over time, the bottom shelf of the pantry became an exercise in forensics – I never really labelled anything, so color and smell became a clue as to just what I’d done.

Intermixed with all of those science experiments was my collection of spirits. Back then, I was lucky enough to work in a large liquor store, and part of my training was to be able to speak fairly authoritatively about most things we sold. Talking to my coworkers led me to amass about a dozen bottles – things like Cruzan Blackstrap, Maker’s Mark and Monopolowa vodka.

The power of the Anvil

The trouble really began when I met Bobby Heugel. I wandered into Anvil on a tip from a friend in my CSW* study group, and was dutifully impressed. A few weeks later, I popped in after work (still in my work shirt), and the friendly conversation quickly became much more professional. Bobby ran to the back and came out with a three page annotated list of liquor that he wanted to sell, but no one in Texas could find for him. I took the list in to our liquor buyer and after some initial hesitance, he agreed to pretty much bring in whatever Bobby wanted.

So now I had to learn how to talk to liquor reps. Between having Bobby in one ear and liquor reps giving me puzzled looks until I figured out how to get what I wanted from them, I learned a lot about liquor in a fairly short period of time. Sitting at Anvil, I got a crash course in period cocktails and how to think about liquor in the same way I thought about wine. And because I could see physical inventory throughout a large chain of retail liquor stores, I got to buy a few special bottles of things that are now hard to come by.

Recent Additions

  • Chorrizo Lopez — Blended Scotch, Crème de Violette, Lemon bitters, Citron liqueur, Lime cordial
  • 9th Floor B/504 — Herbal liqueur, Aromatized wine, Cranberry bitters, Pomegranate juice, Lavender syrup
  • 32nd Street — Gin, Junmai Sake, Dark Crème de Cacao, Lime cordial, Lemongrass
  • Jungle Booby — Blanco tequila, Mezcal, Absinthe, Pineapple juice, Lime juice, Grapefruit juice, Orgeat
  • Clear My Head — Cognac, Amaro Montenegro, Maraschino Liqueur, Herbal liqueur, Lemon bitters

Recent Discussion

  • Re Last Word, 5 days 4 hours ago Craig E commented:

    Abigail Gullo makes a Last Laugh by straining this into a champagne flute and topping with cava, with a lime twist.

  • Re The Smoked 45, 5 days 23 hours ago Biff Malibu commented:

    Quite sweet - dropped Cointreau to 0.5 oz

  • Re Tolkien, 6 days 16 hours ago lesliec commented:

    It's good you guys aren't just Tolkien in your sleep.

  • Re Gathering Storm, 6 days 20 hours ago subspot commented:

    Might need a little more sweetness, very dry as is with my pineapple gomme syrup from Cocktail Codex which is a 1-1 sugar to pineapple juice (with added acid and gum powder). Almost a bit too christmasy, but very good.

  • Re Champs Elysées, 1 week ago yarm commented:

    Note: the drink was first published as Green Chartreuse but it is far superior with Yellow to my palate, so that's how I (and most folks) make it.