Bordershop Selections for a 10-bottle Bar
Below are the 10 bottles we chose from Bordershop, and they are our recommendation to anybody who want to start a home bar from scratch.
Had we been challenged to build a bar with only one bottle, we would have picked a solid gin. It’s one of the most versatile spirits, and you can create a myriad of different cocktails with it. Unsurprisingly, the gin section is one of the biggest at Bordershop, and while most of the bottles are really good, the below six are our favorites.
Stockholms Bränneri Dry Gin
Hernö Dry Gin
Lab+Distillery Organic Gin by Mackmyra
Tanqueray No Ten
The Botanist Islay Dry Gin
We decided to take home Mackmyra’s gin. It’s Swedish, and not that well-known despite being one of the best gins we’ve tried. The bottle itself looks beautiful and clean, and the gin itself is characteristic enough to spark interest, while not being overly experimental, and hence still very fitting to use in cocktails.
We really recommend picking up a bottle of Angostura Bitters. It's used in so many cocktails and it's hard to replace by anything other.
For making Whiskey Sours, Manhattans and Sazeracs, an American whisky is absolutely necessary. Think brown boozy drinks, that should be sipped slowly and enjoyed in some good company. Here we have chosen five bourbons but feel free to go for a rye instead, if you fancy a sharper and maybe a bit less sweet taste.
Four Roses Kentucky Straight Bourbon
Wild Turkey 101 Kentucky Straight Bourbon
Jim Beam Kentucky Straight Bourbon
Maker’s Mark Kentucky Straight Bourbon
Bulleit Bourbon Frontier Whiskey
The iconic Maker’s Mark Kentucky Straight Bourbon is a perfect bottle to leave Bordershop with. This bourbon has a nice golden brown colour, a fairly neutral but distinct bourbon taste, and the bottle itself looks very elegant with its dripping wax cover. It will work fantastically in any of the above mentioned stiff cocktails.
The rum selection at Bordershop is absolutely massive and very impressive. We have tried a lot of rum through the years, yet several of the bottles on Bordershop’s shelves were new to us. With rum you need to factor in colour, age, production method, regional difference etcetera, making this the slightly more challenging section of the list. We decided to mainly go medium-aged bottles, meaning the rums are amber-coloured. This will work in most drinks, even in a Daiquiri (though traditionally made with a clear rum). An amber rum is also perfect in tropical tiki-drinks.
Havanna Club Añejo 3 Años
Bacardi Añejo Cuatro
Brugal 1888 Gran Reserva Familiar
Plantation 3 Stars Artisinal
Ron Esclavo Gran Reserva Overproof
We went with a staple, a hard-working bottle that we always keep close in our home bar; the Bacardi Añejo Cuatro.
An agave bottle is crucial to us. We do not shot it, but rather use it as a cocktail ingredient. In general, this category of spirit is smaller than others, so also at Bordershop. Still, they carry some different brands, and three that we’ve tried and really like are:
1800 Reserva Reposado
Sierra Milenario Blanco
The 1800 Reserva Reposado is a good mid-range choice. The golden colour of the tequila is beautiful in drinks, and we think it works in Margaritas – probably the most classic tequila cocktail (though more often made with clear blanco Tequila).
So, Cognac might not be the MOST crucial bottle in the home bar. But we like it a lot and would struggle in our bar without it. We like to use it in Sazeracs (mixed with rye or bourbon), in a Sidecar, or in the below recipe.
Bordershop have a lot of Cognac to choose from. However, many of them are on the fancy side, aged for many years, bottled in exquisite vessels. They are all aimed at neat drinking. When using Cognac in cocktails a VS version is more than enough, and in Bordershop we found five perfect VS Cognacs that all work well in mixed drinks:
Grönstedts VS is a fun “Swedish” choice and the one we went with!
Orange liqueur is another staple. It’s a team-player bottle, that is used in combination with other base-spirits. The Margarita, the Sidecar or even the infamous (but oh so good) Long Island Iced Tea are all examples of cocktails where a good orange liqueur is essential in the mix.
Bordershop have a few choices. We decided to pick up the very classic Cointreau. An elegant orange liqueur that is almost iconic. But the three other suggestions below are all good, though with some distinct differences from Cointreau (Bols is sweeter, Pierre Ferrand is dryer and Grand Marnier is Cognac based).
Bols Triple Sec Curaçao
Pierre Ferrand Dry Curaçao
Grand Marnier Cordon Rouge
Vermouths are fortified wines, that can be enjoyed neat over ice, but are more commonly seen as mixers in cocktails. There are a few ones to choose from at Bordershop, and our clear favorite out of the bunch is the Antica Formula. It’s a rich and very tasty red/sweet vermouth that will function perfectly in all recipes requiring sweet or red vermouth. A Negroni made with a top-notch gin, Campari and then Antica Formula sweet vermouth, is one of the best cocktails experiences you can have (in your home bar).
Punt e Mes
Do note that an opened bottle of vermouth needs to be stored in the fridge, given the low alcohol in vermouth.
If you want to make the most classic cocktails of them all – the Dry Martini – a good white and dry vermouth is a must. Out of the ones Bordershop carry we would firstly go for the Noilly Prat or the Martini Extra Dry – but also the other ones on the below list will be good:
Perlino extra dry
Cinzano extra dry
Martini Extra Dry
Noilly Prat Original Dry
Lillet Blanc (a wildcard - technically not a vermouth but substitutes well)
Often referred to as amaro, Italian bitters have become almost a category of its own. For a ten-bottle bar there’s really only one bottle you need to consider – the much crucial ruby-red Campari:
Campari is essential if you plan on making Negronis (and you should). It’s an “adult” drink that you will most likely fall in love if (and if you don’t, then you’re not going to like it all – there is no in between).
In upcoming articles we will start sharing our favourite cocktails made with these bottles.