So in the first part of The Bar Essentials guide, I covered the basic ingredients (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic) and essential equipment to get you started on your journey to the perfect home bar.
Today, i’m going to look at the next alcoholic ingredients – Liqueurs – that you should be adding to your collection. I won’t go too far into specific brands for each drink but there will be some personal recommendations.
Let’s get started!
♦ Chocolate liqueur
♦ Creme de cacao
Both white and dark creme de cacao are worth having as they do surprisingly have distinctive flavours and textures. Dark creme de cacao is heavier than white creme de cacao due to the addition of a caramel or brown dye, and i’ve found that is also tastes more chocolatey than the white variant. This is down to the fact that dark crème de cacao is more akin to dark chocolate, whereas white crème de cacao is closer to milk chocolate in terms of flavour. It can be hard to find either in shops but they are readily available online. Chocolate liqueur is not the same as Creme de Cacao as it is a lot sweeter and quite syrupy, so equally it’s important to have both.
♦ Creme de cassis
Creme de cassis is a blackcurrant liqueur which tastes a lot like alcoholic Ribena syrup. Unfortunately this means that it’s extremely drinkable and you’ll probably have to restock this one a fair few times over a year. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!
♦ Creme de Menthe
Basically a mint liqueur. I personally love mint so this is definitely a staple in my bar!
Galliano is predominantly a vanilla liqueur but it does have some herbal tones to it. Wonderful ingredient that I was, frankly, amazed to see included in so many cocktail recipes which is why it’s definitely a must have. It’s a very tall bottle though so might have to go on top of your bar.
♦ Coffee liqueur
Like Creme de cassis, Chambord is far too drinkable. I have a special place in my heart for this black raspberry liqueur as it is nothing short of delicious. Costco have the 70cl bottle for a good price but you can get the 20cl version in pretty much every supermarket.
♦ Apricot Brandy
♦ Cherry Brandy
Although both are called ‘brandy’ most of the ones you can buy are actually liqueurs where the fruit is macerated. Very sweet and very fruity.
♦ Bailey’s Original
I could have just said ‘Irish Cream’ but in all honesty i’ve not found a budget range that I prefer to Bailey’s, so Bailey’s it is.
♦ Apple Schnapps
♦ Peach Schnapps
♦ Blue Curaçao
Like Cointreau or Triple Sec, Curaçao is a bitter and sweet orange liqueur. Orange liqueurs are generally interchangeable but with some slight variance in taste so it’s best for you to experiment and find what you like. Blue Curaçao is artificially dyed blue and is used in a lot of cocktails for colouring as well as flavour, so I would say it’s an essential component of your bar.
♦ Elderflower Liqueur
I love the flavour and aromas of elderflower. St Germain is surprisingly easy to find in your big supermarkets too, so it’s a very accessible liqueur if a bit pricey at around £18 for a 50cl bottle. In all honesty, it doesn’t show up in cocktails all too much, but it’s a nice addition to the bar and if you want some light and fresh, especially in the summer, there’s nothing wrong with elderflower liqueur and lemonade!
I have issues of the ‘I drink this too quickly’ variety when it comes to advocaat. Making Snowsball’s at Christmas is one of my favourite things to do, and I always – ALWAYS – have a least 5 bottles in when the holidays roll around. Even now, early November, I have 1 full and 1 half finished bottle on the bar. It’s genuinely one of my favourite drinks; I amazed my University friends when I introduced them to it. They couldn’t believe how tasty, easy to drink and (if you buy the budget brands) cheap it was. Even now, when I see them they often ask if I have any ‘of that nice yellow stuff’ in. Do yourself a favour, get some advocaat, good lemonade and lime juice and wait for Christmas when I will undoubtedly be doing a guide to the Perfect Snowball. Here endeth my emotional rant.
Next up on The Bar Essentials, i’ll be exploring the harder spirits to add to your collection! Stay tuned for more.