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Twelve Bottles

August 6, 2010

The problem with writing so much is that it is hard to remember exactly what you’ve written.  I’m just about two weeks away from my 400th post, and post number 300 seems like just yesterday.

Or maybe it’s just that I’m getting old.

Either way, today I’m going to do something that I don’t think I’ve ever done before on the FUSSYlittleBLOG.  Those of you with better memory or who have more time to search the archive can tell me if that’s definitively true or not.  But today, I’m going to dedicate this post entirely to highlighting somebody else’s blog.

One of the best parts of writing the FLB is stumbling upon people with whom I feel a strong and instant connection.  If Mr. Sunshine wasn’t older than me, I would swear we had been separated at birth.  Well there is another fellow I recently came across named David Solmonson, and he writes about cocktails and spirits.  But he does it in a way that I wholeheartedly support.  Let me explain.

I believe in classic cocktails.  I believe in maintaining a simple home bar.  I believe in bitters.  I believe in absinthe.  I believe in rye.  I believe in craft spirits.  I believe in stirring Manhattans.

So does David.

But he takes it one step further.  He advocates not just for a simple home bar, but rather the simple home bar that is best equipped to crank out delicious classic cocktails.  In fact, he has twelve very specific bottles of booze in mind and recipes that build off those bottles.  Aptly, he named the blog 12 Bottle Bar.

Would I have chosen a different list of bottles?  Absolutely.
But it is a very good list.  It may even be great.  Dare I say brilliant?
Do I think it is shear folly to include Genever in a list of spirits intended to be accessible and welcoming to classic cocktail neophytes? Delicious, malty folly.

I would actually argue that David has room to add a few more bottles to his list, since two of the twelve selections are bitters and another two of the twelve are vermouth.  At least in the great state of New York, bitters are considered mixers and not spirits.  Thus they cannot even be legally purchased at a liquor store.  And vermouth is aromatized wine.  Sure, it’s fortified, but at the end of the day, wine is wine.

Of the bottles that don’t make the cut, the ones that I find to be indispensable to a good home bar are orange bitters and scotch.  In the heat of summer I also really want a bottle of white rum around.  To be fair, I mentioned this to David, and he explained that this was the basic 12-bottle set-up.  It sounds like in the future it may be adjusted to accommodate for changes in seasonal drinking preferences.  After all, this project is only eight months old.

Ultimately where he and I diverge is that I am more simple-minded than David.  I prefer drinks with three or four ingredients, where ice counts as an ingredient.  I enjoy sitting down with a small, stemmed glass of a spirit, and experiencing it on its own terms unadulterated by any additional accompaniments.

All the same, this blog is a fascinating project, and David writes passionately about spirits, their history, and their best uses in well-made drinks.  His recent post might just get me to dedicate the soon-to-be-empty spot in my own liquor cabinet to a bottle of Genever.

Part of me thinks that, living in this historical Dutch settlement, I owe it to myself and my community to take up a Genever habit.  Honestly, I haven’t even looked to see if it’s available locally.  But one thing we do have in upstate New York is good liquor stores.

If I do, David is to blame.  I’ve found him to be really inspiring.

11 Comments leave one →
  1. Raf permalink
    August 6, 2010 10:46 am

    11 links to your own blog, 5 to his. that’s writing about someone else’s blog?

    • Raf permalink
      August 6, 2010 11:56 am

      Bitchiness aside, this is a good site. Love the concept (even though my own liquor cabinet is overflowing). I agree the bitters shouldn’t have to count as bottles. Allowing that rule, I could add maraschino (aviations and improved whiskey cocktails) and bourbon. You’d probably add white rum and banana liqueur for some such foolishness.

      • August 6, 2010 6:12 pm

        I chose to count bitters and vermouth because my focus is on the home bartender who may not know what these items are. Heck, I’ve been to bars that don’t know what bitters are (sigh). That said, I agree with all your suggestions, especially the Maraschino and white rum. I do lament that I won’t be doing a proper daiquiri or small dinger, but I have only myself to blame. Beside, the limitations are fun.

  2. August 6, 2010 11:33 am

    Daniel, I am honored beyond words and literally speechless. Thank you.

    If people start actually reading me now, you will be to blame!

  3. Mr. Sunshine permalink
    August 6, 2010 5:37 pm

    I made a point of trying my first genever ever in a “brown bar” in Amsterdam. Totally delightful, like getting wasted inside a Rembrandt.
    And yes, they do have it locally, certainly at Purdy’s in Saratoga.

  4. Jon permalink
    August 6, 2010 9:58 pm

    A) Dan, you really need to come visit: In my apt one might find many classic cocktail ingredients, including apt-made grenadine and brandied cherries. B) we have cheeses from Murrays. C) we’re very close to ‘inoteca’s liquori bar, one of the best spots for classic cocktails and great innovations that feel classic.

  5. Jon permalink
    August 6, 2010 10:03 pm

    Oh! Check out two cocktail blogs: cocktailchronicles dot com and Three words: barrel-aged cocktails.

  6. August 7, 2010 1:14 am

    Glad for the tip about where to find Genever (thanks Mr. Sunshine) – I’ve never tried it but been intrigued for a while after reading a great article about the spirit in Imbibe. As someone who is very interested in learning to mix a good cocktail, but who is admittedly an absolute neophyte, 12 bottles was a great lead. Thanks!!

  7. August 7, 2010 2:50 am

    Thanks for the nod Daniel!



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