It may seem impossible to have all of the ingredients of common cocktails on hand at all times. After all, there is a plethora of cocktail recipes out there requiring diverse ingredients. Perhaps you could even have a different cocktail or two for each day of the year.
Having all these cocktail components in your modest home bar might seem to be a pipe-dream, even for master hosts and hostesses among. Don't quit entertaining or bartending in your home just yet, though. With just a few key ingredients from liqueurs to garnishes, and tons of ice of course, you can recreate the most popular cocktails and even jazz them up a bit, even if you do not have a fully-stocked bar.
Ingredients of Common Cocktails Every Home Bar Should Have
Whether you are a cocktail connoisseur or a drinking novice who just wants to have a few bottles on hand in case an unexpected guest stops by, having these ingredients of common cocktails on hand will ensure you are well prepared for any situation.
Mixers may make the drink. While some people like their alcohol straight-up, others prefer the taste tempered with a sweet or sour additive designed to make the alcohol go down smoother.
- Soda Water - Commonly known as seltzer, soda water is a carbonated liquid that gives the beverage its trademark tingling fizz. This ingredient is a common cocktail component often used to dilute liqueurs. Examples of cocktails made with soda water include: Mojitos, Highballs and Coolers.
- Cola - This favorite everyday beverage is a carbonated liquid with a caramel color. Sweetened with sugar, it is also used to dilute cocktails including Long Island Iced Tea. Cola is also required for the simple and classic Jack and Coke, a drink made with Jack Daniel's Whiskey and Coca Cola.
- Cranberry Juice - This red-colored juice is another staple in cocktail-making, especially for ladies' drinks. After all, what woman doesn't enjoy a good Cosmopolitan, Sea Breeze or Sex on the Beach.
- Mint leaves - The main star of the very refreshing Mojito cocktail, mint leaves add a thrilling flavor to your cocktails and can be both a mixer and garnish.
Every drink needs a little liquor. Keep these on hand and be ready when 5:00 p.m. roles around. Of course, as Jimmy Buffet would say, it's always 5:00 p.m. somewhere.
- Whiskey - This popular export from Scotland is used in drinks such as the Whiskey Fizz or Whiskey Sour.
- Gin - A staple in cocktails, its round, bitter taste give martinis and gin and tonics their trademark irresistible quality.
- Vodka - Another staple in cocktail-making, vodka is used in popular drinks such as a Screwdriver and Bloody Mary. Good Vodka can also be served on-the-rocks. Vodka should generally be kept in the freezer so it is ice cold and ready to serve on a moment's notice.
- White rum - Light or silver rum, this export from Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic is used in mixing Mojitos.
- Tequila - Mexican tequila is made from the agave plant that resembles a cactus. The agave plant grows predominantly in the volcanic soils of Tequila, Mexico, so this drink is named after the place where it grows. Tequila is most often consumed in the form of margaritas, although a Tequila Sunrise is a fancier offering that also requires you have this hot-tasting liquor on hand.
- Cointreau - A type of "triple sec", this liqueur is made from the rinds of sweet and bitter oranges. It is also used in making margaritas.
- Brandy - More popularly referred to as Cognac (French Town), brandy is used in Sidecars and Zombies
- Champagne - This fizzy, sparkling wine is a popular beverage for every occasion. It can be mixed to make cocktails such as French 75 or Champagne Kir. Of course, champagne can also be drunk on its own.
A garnish adds interest and can also add flavor. Keep these on hand to top off any tasty cocktail.
- Maraschino cherries - These sweetened cherries preserved in almond flavored syrup serve as garnish and flavor enhancers for Cosmopolitans and Tequila Sunrises. Grenadine syrup may also be used as a substitute, giving some drinks their trademark pinkish red coloring.
- Lemons and limes - Their juices, rinds and wedges may be used as core ingredients or garnishes for rum cocktails, Mojitos, Lemon Drops, Sidecars and Singapore Slings. Lemons and limes are also essential for the daring drinkers who favor tequila shorts with salt and lemon. A lemon or lime can also be added to a Corona for a beachy-summery treat year-round.
- Olives - These are a great addition to standard martinis.
- Cocktail onions - Use these in martinis and Gibsons.
- Fresh fruit slices - Match your fruit to compliment the ingredients in your cocktail.
Finally, the most important element of cocktails is ice. Shaken or stirred, most if not all cocktails should be served cold.