- Over 70 bottles of liquor, most of which are liqueurs for mixing
- 11 bottles of bitters (not including my own custom mixes)
- A few homemade liqueurs (apple pie mostly, and some limoncello)
- Vodka: so neutral, and makes a bunch of my favorite drinks. Great for infusion too, if you don't have easy access to grain alcohol. For "daily use" I like Skyy, and for "splurge" I like Ketel One or Grey Goose.
- Gin: even though I have none in my cabinet right now, I like it a lot! Faves are Bombay Sapphire and Junipero
- I love sweet/sour & bitter drinks, with preference lately to vodka: Vodka Tonic, Cape Cod, Salty Dog/Greyhound
- Brown water (bourbon/scotch/rye): Blanton's and Gentleman Jack are two faves, although Ardbeg and Laphroaig are two other faves, must try more. Woodford Reserve is nice too. I wanna try Buffalo Trace and Old Potrero. Maker's Mark is passable but I prefer it to mix with ginger ale.
I've made a few infusions & liqueurs over the years. Here are a few:
- Meyer Lemon-cello
- Krupnikas (spiced honey liqueur)
- Apple Pie (apple cider+juice)
- Pineapple (fresh pineapple)
- Bitters (a whole host of 'em!)
The base of most of these is Everclear, aka grain alcohol. You can only buy 151 proof in California, but a quick trip out of state can obtain 190 proof.
Infusions that I've liked in the past few years (all involve soaking in grain alcohol for a period of time, then straining off the solids carefully thru fine-mesh strainer (such as chinois) and/or coffee filter paper. BTW, if you have a vacuum pump + flask, you'll get much more effective filtering!
- Pineapple: soak fresh pineapple in vodka or grain alcohol for 1-2 weeks, strain off the solids
- Zesty Bourbon: soak lemon, grapefruit and orange zests in bourbon (this one is courtesy of Scott @ Cyrus in Healdsburg) for about 2 weeks
- Cranberry: soak fresh cranberries for 4 weeks, strain off solids
Some other infusions that have done well over the years:
- Cranberry Raisin: soak dried cranberries and raisins for a couple of months, discard solids. After 5-6 years or so, the flavor really mellows out nicely
Some that didn't do so well:
- Fresh plum: from the trip to Petaluma to visit T's grandparents. We'll see what happens, but doesn't smell/look good at this point, looks kinda oxidized and gross.
As far as bitters go, I've come up with a few recipes that are pretty good, but they're top secret :) Suffice it to say that a trip to Bevmo for Everclear and a trip to the local health food store for organic dried herbs and spices will lead to some nice essence extractions, which you can use to blend your own concoctions.