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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 Remember the Danes, 1 day 17 hours ago lesliec commented:

    This doesn't seem quite there yet. I assumed whiskey with a 'e' didn't mean Scotch so used Evan Williams bourbon. To me it's a little flat and metallic - some expressed orange zest helped. Maybe reduce the absinthe and go for a non-Punt vermouth?

  • Re The Hallelujah, 3 days ago drinkingandthinking commented:

    It's okay but basically just tastes like the ingredients rather than a carefully balanced cocktail.

  • Re The Bloodborne of Beverages, 3 days 21 hours ago M.grandiflora commented:

    Love everything about this drink. Perfectly balanced.

  • Re The Cableknit, 4 days 13 hours ago jensck commented:

    Seriously strange. Maybe it's because I used a different coffee liqueur (Tempus Fugit), but I'm not sure these flavors work together.

  • Re String Theory, 4 days 15 hours ago stirred commented:

    Good winter vibes. Same vein as Left Hand and Black Lodge. Add to rotation.