Blog 001 // The Big Six
Triple Sec, Dry Vermouth, Sweet Vermouth, Maraschino, Angostura Bitters, Absinthe.
For many years, via dozens of articles, we’ve been told that the above list of products is a must for home bartenders. Forgetting about base spirits for a second, this list of the ‘big six’ has, with the occasional substitution, been accepted as the backbone of a good home bar. So many of the classics that we know and love rely on the same few modifiers and basic structures. A change of vermouth here, an addition of triple sec there, and you could keep going through the Savoy cocktail book without ever running out of choices.
However, when was the last time you went to somebody’s house and asked for an Aviation? Not for a while I’d wager, if ever. To be fair, I absolutely hate Aviations, but that’s neither here nor there. What we’re proposing is a small update. A B team if you will. Keep your Angostura in the cupboard, no need to dump the Martini Dry down the sink yet, but perhaps it’s time to come up with an additional big 6 to supplement and enhance your home bar. Let’s be honest, nobody makes friends over Rob Roys any more do they? Here’s our list of the essential 2021 Big 6.
There’s a reason your nan loved it, because she was an OG who knew what the fuck was up. Every style of sherry is delicious, but go for something mid-sweetness like Amontillado or Manzanilla. It’s good for sipping, turning into a cobbler if you’re fancy, sipping with soda or tonic with a slice if you’re going for rooftop vibes in the summer. You’ll look like an absolute Sophisticat if you give your friends a glass of sherry and some olives before dinner, because that’s what we’re all into now isn’t it. ‘Oooh it’s like being at Barrafina’ they’ll say. And you’ll smile and nod. Yes Steve. Yes, it is.
Now, I don’t usually drink Seedlip myself, as if I was to have a non-alcoholic drink, I can’t really see past an ice-cold fizzy water. BRACING. However, if we’re talking about a gathering of your friends (and who else are you going to invite round? You’re not Drake) inevitably there’s going to be someone, at some point, who doesn’t drink. In a bar they could get something fancy knocked up by the bartender, but at your house they’re limited by what you have in. And if what you have in is a choice of Diet Coke or tap water, well that’s not very thoughtful is it. Have a bottle of Seedlip in the cupboard, and be a good friend.
There is NEVER a lemon when you need one, and when you do have them, there are NEVER enough. You’re not an actual bar, you shouldn’t need to get a fruit delivery in. Supasawa lasts forever and is a very solid alternative to citrus. It’s also a really good cordial base if you’re into that sort of thing.
This stuff goes with ANYTHING. There isn’t a cocktail in the world that isn’t improved, or at the very least equalled, by replacing the base spirit with Madeira. Try it, go on. Madeira Colada? Incredible. Madeira Manhattan? Unbelievable. Madeira Mojito? Forget about it. You’re going to run out of a base spirit halfway through the night at some point, so keep this little bottle of life saver in the fridge and never worry about anything ever again.
Apricots are far superior to oranges. Dump the Cointreau and expand your mind, paesano.
Kuka Cold Brew Concentrate
An absolute essential for bars that don’t have an espresso machine. Kuka has two advantages over normal cold brew when it comes to making Espresso Martinis; the first is that it’s a cold brew concentrate, meaning that you can pack a lot of flavour into an espresso sized shot. This keeps your regular spec the same. The second is the special recipe that Kuka use means that when you shake it up, you get the thick, tight crema that we get from hot-brew espresso. Imagine being able to make Espresso Martinis at home without the guilt of un-recyclable pods. IMAGINE.