If you’ve ever been to my house (or someone else’s), and been impressed by the range and quantity of booze available, you might have felt such alcoholic riches to be beyond your reach. After all, strong liquor is expensive – especially quality strong liquor! But, fear not. I’m going to tell you how you can amass your very own impressive stash of booze for very little initial cost, and frankly I strongly recommend you do so. There are people whose booze life can only be described as “hand to mouth” – that is, they buy booze only when they need it. They buy it, they drink it, and when it’s gone it’s gone. Obviously it’s far better to maintain a collection – buy a bottle when you can get a bargain or when a staple runs out, always have a good selection in stock. Especially seek out new experiences and favourites when travelling overseas – prices can be so much better, and varieties far more interesting than the weekly visit to your local Tesco.
So! Here’s what you need to do… have a cocktail party. I’ll break it down into a few simple steps.
1. Invest in some basic cocktail paraphernalia (a shaker, measuring cup, cocktail recipe book).
2. Invest in a few staple ingredients (select from ‘the three types of rum’, vodka, tequila, gin – not too many cocktails are made with whiskey, so you don’t need to bother with that one.)
3. Invite friends and request that they each bring a bottle of something. Emphasise that they don’t need to buy anything, just bring whatever they have that’s left in their cupboard – half a bottle of Tia Maria, unwanted Vermouth… just whatever.
4. Stock up on small essentials (plastic glasses, ice, straws, various types of juice – lime, lemon, orange and pineapple are most useful in my experience)
Together, all the above ingredients should combine to make sure you have enough different types of liquor and juices for numerous different cocktails, and for everyone to have a gay old time. And here’s the best part: it’s highly likely that your friends won’t take their booze back home with them (though you should allow them to, if they want to!), leaving you with the beginnings of an awesome collection. It’s how I started, and I haven’t looked back since. I wasn’t even intending to start a collection. I just thought it would be fun to have a cocktail party with the basic paraphernalia that my fiancée had bought me. It was, and afterwards I had a ton of booze that I hadn’t bought! Result. So thanks to all my friends for being so generous and special thanks go to Paul, who brought lots of unwanted bottles and introduced us to the simple, but visually impressive Tequila Sunrise.
Allow me to finish by providing some more booze porn, showing my collection, as at 06-01-12. This first example shows all the bottles that sit at the top of one of our kitchen cupboards. I’m frankly surprised my fiancée (say hi, Brenda) continues to allow it’s presence – let’s face it; it looks damn cool.
I've added numbers to the picture, so you can meet all the members of the family - 1. Hierbas Ibicencas 2. um... dry vermouth (sorry, I don't recall the brand) 3. Aldi's vermouth 4. Chambord raspberry liquer 5. Grenadine syrup (not alcohol, but essential for tequila sunrise) 6. Tia Maria 7. Ballycastle - Aldi's budget answer to Bailey's 8. Kahlua 9. Bailey's 10. Angostura bitters (also, not alcohol but essential for mojitos) 11. Archer's Peach Scnhaps (bleurgh!) 12. budget Amaretto 13. Licor 43 14. Pimms (I think) 15. Midori, melon liquer 16. Gibsons 12 yo Canadian rye 17. Bols creme de menthe 18. a random champagne or similar that is being stored up there (I'm afraid I'm not very interested in wine and wine products/accessories 19. ginger wine 20. Bols Apricot brandy 21. Kirsch cherry liquer 22. Triple Sec (I think) 23. Blue Curacao 24. Cointreau 25. Tesco's value brandy 26. Crown Royal Canadian rye 27. Glayva 28. not entirely sure what this is! I'll check 29. Southern Comfort 30. another bottle of Triple Sec 31 and 32 (hidden). Jose Cuervo's silver and gold tequilas 33. Brugal Anejo rum 34. London dry gin (I think).
We have a small booze cupboard also, for easier access. These are the delights that contains:
Meet the friends, left to right: Tesco's own Imperial vodka, Grappa Prosecco (from Vom Fass), 103 Brandy de Jerez, Aberlour 10 yo single malt, Bruichladdich Rocks, Old Hopking dark rum, Aldi's Highland Black 8 yo, Bacardi Gold, Cockspur gold rum, Bacardi and English Harbour white rum.
Sure, there's a lot of cheap stuff in there, but you don't need the best to make cocktails. You do need to make sure you've got a few things you can sip if you're into that kind of thing, though. A future post will focus on the merits of the various cheap liquors - I'm quite a fan of the Highland Black, which is a bargain at £11.99. Hopefully this has given you a little inspiration so go forth and multiply your collection. And if you want to post a picture, go right ahead; I'd be fascinated to see what you've got.