The home bar. I swear unlike other things that have been made part of home life that are so common place, the tv room, the man cave, the home office with laptop computer, what happened to this old relic? For once as us imbibing enthusiasts truly know, every house should have one.
If you know me and have been following, I have a good selection and have been learning the craft of cocktail for some time. Yes, it is a wonderful pursuit, nothing beats a hard day of coming home from work and putting in the effort to make a good drink. And sometimes it's not even that hard.
I just returned recently from a meeting setup by the American Cocktail Society at the Occidental Hotel in DC. Here there was a special guest who does have a real name, but has a better identity of Mr-Booze!! Mr. Booze provided several attending guests with the craft of setting up your personal home bar. This event was brought to us not with just knowledge and basics of what you should have (strainers, shakers, lemons, limes etc...) but also with libations to be served as you consumed all this knowledge within the comforts just off Pennsylvania Ave, about a block from the White House.
Here was a wonderful setting decked out with plenty of wood to make the Black Forest jealous. True to being only blocks from the White House, much of the venue was decorated with patrons pictures ranging from former presidents, to pictures of journalists and your typical Washington folk politicos. This is one part of DC, but trust me there are others, but mostly this event was all about the drink.
Spending time with others who want to attend and learn more about drink and the art of it is a great joy, and there seems to be no shortage of folks who want to do so. The seminar was attended with a very enthusiastic crowd, asking questions of everything under the sun.
I always say, there is something to learn, and if even one little 3 minute tip is something that you hadn't heard before, then it's all worth it. The reality is the event was filled with more knowledge that even someone who just was starting to create their own home bar would be ready set with plenty of information to get started. Some tips from the event that I never considered but were hugely important:
- Bring back the punch bowl for parties.
- Don't make your home bar a candy store for entertaining, provide a basic menu and let guests pick that way you know you're ready.
- Trim the tips of your lemons for squeezing, it's like a car crash zone for juice extraction so get rid of it.
- Make some ambiance that fits the mood.
As I tried to snicker and hide into my tortoise shell, heck.. with that... I couldn't agree more. While chasing Manhattans and Sazeracs, somehow listening to Holy Wars The Punishment Due, Into the Lungs of Hell, or Symphony of Destruction does not fit the bill. Shots of cold Jagermeister sure, but not the event we witnessed tonight.
Bring me some Django Reinhart, or to fit my DC atmosphere Duke Ellington. There is a right time and a right place... for everything!
As Mr. Booze mentioned, We were not all just students/enthusiasts planning on sitting back to take notes.. oh no no.. for that time and effort, well spent drinks were to be served for sure! Pictured of course on the left, was a classic Sidecar dressed with a nice lemon rind slice, perfectly aromatic. The event was focused on some real basic drinks, and really emphasized another portion of home bar tending which is not hard, extremely important, but often overlooked, and that is the creation of syrups.
Probably the highlight was something mentioned as a Fall drink. A Fall drink?? I know Summer and Winter... I figured that was all there was... oh how wrong and it comes from America's truly first great spirit. Laird's Applejack is the predominant ingredient and what some will say is truly America's FIRST spirit (yes even before Bourbon) in the creation of a Fall drink that was served tonight known as a Stone Fence.
This was truly a fantastic drink. Earthy. Apple goodness, not too sweet (I don't normally care for cider), cloyingly refreshing, spicy, like a pumpkin patch and leaves rotting in Fall, a wonderful muted sort of brown/pink color. For once a drink felt like a different season, it is a drink everyone should make when Summer turns to Fall. This without question, was the highlight of the night.
Mr. Booze has a great website that you can get lost in so make sure to check it out. For a true imbibing enthusiast there's a lot of fun to see there! He's also a bit of a collector and sported much of the memorabilia that comes with cocktails as well. While I am not so much on memorabilia, I had to be mighty impressed with the array of cocktail glassware, tiki mugs!, and the retro album covers that adore his website.
But the kicker.. the case
Color me impressed! I am thinking about one of these on my next trip... but as we all know with the world we live in now, TSA regulations and such and such, somethings just well have almost gone the way of the dodo. But who wouldn't want to pack this unsuspecting little case complete with jiggers and glassware and whatever bottle you could think of?
With that the night was a great success and it still never ceases to amaze me how much us imbibing enthusiasts can have so much fun.
So go to those garage sales, find those old glasses on ebay, get some basic liquor for your basic bar, and get your ice ready.
It's really that simple. Just keep it cool.