I've been binge watching Mad Men lately and have noticed all the ladies (I use that term loosely, about as loose as some of Don Draper's "loves") have very sophisticated tastes in alcohol. A seasoned lady (well, one who drinks alcohol) will always have a little something sitting around for guests. And a seasoned lady does pamper herself with a drink alone now and then (I savor the moments I can take a bubble bath with a glass of wine and a good book). Now, a seasoned lady doesn't always have to keep a stocked bar to make everything from "fuzzy navels" to "sour apple caramel shots" but she should have some basics, some quality basics. So, I thought I would share what is in my liquor boudoir (also see photos above):
Scotch -- Single malt, period! This is a must have but please use a lovely decanter (you can buy one at Target for less than $10 or pick one up at a charity thrift shop for less). It can be expensive like Oban, medium priced like Auchentoshan (above), or inexpensive like Glenfiddich. Remember, real scotch is made in Scotland.
Bourbon whiskey -- Also known as just whiskey, can be regular or specialty (things like cinnamon or fruit added). I like to mix Fireball whiskey with Rum Chata (a milky rum) because it makes a fun little drink that tastes like Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal. Whiskey is made anywhere besides Scotland (e.g. America, Ireland, Canada, etc.).
Rum -- Dark or light, spiced or regular. It doesn't matter as it is all a matter of taste (I like dark un-spiced like Kraken)
Vodka -- I like a simple authentic Russian vodka like Moskovskaya. But the French make a nice one too, Grey Goose.
Gin -- I am not a fan of Gin so I keep a very small bottle of Beefeaters (pretty inexpensive) for any guests who like gin and tonic.
Tequila -- Like Gin, I'm not a big fan of Tequila so I just keep a small bottle of Jose Cuervo sitting on the shelf for my guests.
A bottle of champagne -- This is not as expensive as it seems. You can get a really nice bottle for about $40. Now I realize that sounds excessive to those who drink wine out of a box but then that is the difference between a seasoned and elegant lady and a, well, a non-seasoned, non-elegant lady. Go on, splurge on a bottle of champagne and toss it in the fridge just waiting for that perfect moment to celebrate something special. Remember, real champagne is made in France (a specific part of France as a matter of fact, so if the bottle says "made in California" it is really "Brut" and not champagne).
Wine -- It's all a matter of choice but I keep a bottle of white and red at the ready. I'm more of a Pinot Noir kind of lady so I drink a lot of Willamette Valley (Oregon) wines.
Pimms -- A great raspberry liqueur that I make into Pimm's Lemonade (like a fruit punch -- 1 part Pimm's, 3 parts lemon-live soda, cut fruit, crushed ice)
Lemoncello -- My fav is Pallini, chilled, straight up.
Aquavit -- It's similar to a licorice liquor but the story behind the Scandinavian sauce (its more than 40 proof so drink sparingly) is worth the bottle price. Read more about it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Akvavit. My aquavit of choice is Linie.
Mixers -- I'm not a big fan of mixed cocktails but I do keep a few basics in my medicine cabinet like a bottle of tonic water, club soda, a lemon in my fridge and a can or two of cola/diet cola. And orange juice can always be used for mimosas and fuzzy navels.
Nice glasses and a tray. Seriously, just go to the thrift store for these. Don't let me hear of any seasoned lady drinking scotch or serving an aperitif from red Solo plastic cups!
Total cost to stock this entire seasoned and elegant lady's liquor cabinet? Depends. You can spend as little as $300 if you buy all cheaper brands of alcohol or as much as $3000 if you purchase top shelf large sized bottles.