Questing the Stocked Bar.

Here Resides an Aristocrat.

I’d say at least once a week I’m watching a television show or a movie and some character waltzes into a house or an apartment somewhat unannounced and they get offered a drink.  Without fail this makes me think of how sorry my drink options would be for anyone who would just happen by.  Bottle of water?  Triple IPA that’s been hiding back there for 2 years and probably tastes like motor oil with a splash of Everclear?  Tap water hot chocolate?  That’s about all I can bring to the table.  Invariably, the person on TV wants coffee, or a scotch and in extreme cases water with lemon.  Sure, let me just crack open my citrus drawer and get that for you.

Not having coffee in the house always reminds me of one of the great Seinfeld episodes of all-time.  The Library, which features probably the best cameo in the history of sit-coms by Philip Baker Hall.  He plays Mr. Bookman, the library cop, and he delivers several classic lectures.  One touches on keeping coffee in the house.  “Who doesn’t have instant coffee? You buy a jar of Folgers Crystals, you put it in the cupboard, you forget about it.  Then later, when you need it, it’s there. It lasts forever.  It’s freeze-dried.  Freeze-dried crystals.”

Along with being hilarious, the implication is that any adult would have coffee in the house and Jerry does not, which plays into one of the running themes of the show–Jerry is essentially an overgrown 10-year old.  Is how well stocked your cupboards are really a sign of maturity, though?  I think it is.  And forget about cupboards and coffee.  What about the bar? That’s where the real adults distinguish themselves.  If you can get up from your computer right now and whip someone up a martini, I think you are probably a pretty class individual.  I think you have your head on straight.  I don’t know that I am either of those things, and therefore the water, dreadful beer or hot chocolate option.

I’ve often thought about assembling my own home bar, but there are certain obstacles in the way of anyone who is striving to reach this level of adulthood.  In no particular order they are:

1.  You have to be able to buy alcohol and not consume it all in one sitting.  This sounds ridiculous in some ways, but think back to college.  How long would an extra six-pack in the fridge or an extra bottle of vodka in the freezer (yes the freezer, because who has ice and you’re hard) last?  Forty-five minutes?  Having the alcohol in itself was a reason to drink.  You have to get past that.  This is the only step I’ve really accomplished.

2.  You have to be willing to make the commitment financially.  If you can trust yourself not to get blotto for a week straight, then you should be comfortable making the financial plunge to stock a bar.  But, you get some Vodka, Gin, Scotch, perhaps a Rum if you are feeling frisky, some mixers and the next thing you know you’ve run up a bill that you’d be more comfortable spending on something else.  Like dinner for the week.

3.  You also need a proper forum to display your maturity.  If you live in a 500-square foot hole you might not be able to pull this off.  Things get a lot less classy when you pull a bottle of Glenlivet out of the drawer under the oven.  Your linen closet can not double as a bar.  I don’t even have a kitchen table.  I don’t think I’m ready to commit precious floor space to a bar.

I know people who have reached the point of having the bar in their house.  It’s impressive.  I also know some people who are in the neighborhood.  I think some of these old man bars are just accumulated through time.  Sloe Gin?  Sure, I think I had a bottle of that for a rager back in ’89, let me check.  You probably know someone who is on their way.  Maybe you show up at their house randomly and they offer you a drink.  The natural response is, what do you have.  They then say:

“Well, I’ve got 3 coronas, a Coors Light, a Sam Golden Berry Summer Wheat…I’ve got some tequila, a bottle of vodka and no mixers, a couple swallows of Jager and a bottle of Kahlua.”

Now, compared to what I have, that’s an impressive array.  But, that’s not really a bar.  That’s the leftovers from a couple of theme parties.  It’s a start, but you aren’t all the way there.  When I first thought of this post, I was going to make it a list of things that really signify you’ve grown up.  There’s nothing that can hold a candle to the stocked bar, though.  I think it’s the ultimate.  I really do.

So, the question becomes, what do you really need to pull this off?  Is tonic water something you need to have on hand at all times?  I feel like my parents kept a perpetual and healthy supply of tonic water around.  Fascinating.  What are the core liquors?  If you aren’t a Scotch drinker do you have to suck it up and have a bottle handy no matter what?  What about bourbon?  What’s the line in the sand where the person asking for the drink is inappropriate?  Is it cranberry juice?  Like a screwdriver is within reason, but a vodka cran-splash is not something the ordinary person is expected to make.  Is vermouth the line?  Triple Sec?  Where’s the damn line people?

Anyway, bottoms up, and if you happened to whip yourself up a quick Sea Breeze while you read this, hats off to you.  Do you know who drank Sea Breezes?  Vincent.  Vincent drank Sea Breezes.



17 thoughts on “Questing the Stocked Bar.

  1. Whoever assembled the bar in the caption picture clearly does not have a toddler running around and pulling everything on god’s good earth off of every flat surface whenever possible. Our house if you are thinking about putting something on a table and you get it even remotely close to the edge, you might as well just throw it directly onto the floor and get it over with. So those nips, for example, gone. Also the Grand Marnier with that ribbon? Forget about it.

    On the actual topic of the post.

    Clearly you need tonic water already in the fridge. And gin. And scotch and ice, but not ice that was (1) made by your refrigerator or (2) in a bag from the store. Real ice in a real man’s ice tray that has not been sitting in your freezer for sixteen months. I mean real fresh ice.

    But that’s like the junior associate bar. A real grown up bar I think you should be able to use the foregoing gin and scotch plus make a dry martini, a manhattan, a tom collins, and an old fashioned and serve it in the appropriate glass. Note that I don’t actually know what is in any of these drinks. At my house, depending on your timing, I can offer you a Long Trail OR I can offer to go across the street and buy a six pack of Long Trail or Magic Hat, your pick.

  2. that sounds pretty hospitable to me.

    is refrigerator ice really a no-no?

    what if it’s filtered water?

  3. Roger Sterling would not serve you refrigerator ice. Or, at the very least, you wouldn’t know it because he would have an ice bucket always at the ready. No holding the scotch glass against the lever on the door, let’s put it that way.

  4. well, when you put it that way, i guess i see what you are saying.

    roger dances that fine line though between adult and refined alcoholic.

    doing some research, apparently, silicone ice trays are where it’s at.

  5. Good point. Or at least the hospitality should be reciprocal. As in, if you show up at my house unannounced, I’ll give you a beer, but, you have to mow the grass.

  6. I’m a big fan of the (moderately) stocked bar. In my opinion, you should always have: wine (red and white), champagne (chilled), beer (a lighter beer and a “serious” beer), vodka, gin, scotch, tonic, club soda, ice, and the ingredients for one cocktail of your choice. It’s hard to find someone that will not want to drink something out of that list. If I know people are coming over, I’ll pick up a few lemons/limes – done.

    • Haas, you represented very NICELY last time i checked. i heart a man who can accommodate a chick’s desire for a champagne and vodka blend.

      don’t hate people, that’s good stuff. and the ladies like it. LalalalalalalIKE it.


  7. Scent of a Woman is a DVD I am actually proud to own, though currently it is lost, and that has infuriated me on a number of occasions.

    A lot of valid points here, I mean, I once answered the question, can we watch the game at your apartment with, “I don’t accept visitors,” so obviously some people I think are going to be naturally more inclined to have the bar rocking.

    And, Haas’s bar is the best I’ve seen, “in the wild,” especially if he knows someone is coming over.

    He’s a good man. And Thorough.

  8. Wow, a Big Lebowski referral as well? Thanks for the compliment, feel free to stop by for a drink anytime – I think a person’s location has something to do with it as well, I’m in a spot that’s pretty conducive to random visitors (as long as they don’t hate being in the city)

  9. um, this is hilarious. especially #3. anyhoo. i have to say, i go to this client’s home, and they have this overflowing island of booze. and. it kind of disgusts me. i’d prefer a lil less choice, and a bit more class and quality. maybe that is the minimalist snob in me. though, i have seen the friend or two who have parents – see, noting my circle of poor entitled kids – um, who have like a freakin mahogoney (sp??) bar.

    that’s ooc. i expect a chick in a black and white maid’s outfit with feather duster to pop out and a dad to walk down the stairs with a pipe in hand. the legal type of pipe.

    3-Putt, you, by the way LOVE the word swallows. maybe your most frequently used word in 1st bday, maybe? maybe? swallow a maybe?

    is it obvious i havent blogged for myself in a few days…sorry for the sublimation.


  10. I’m torn how you keep a good bar. Obviously the standard liquors are important, vodka, gin, whiskey/bourbon. Where you get into trouble is the associated ingredients to make high-brow cocktails. To be responsible for keeping bitters or Grand Mariner or Cointreau is a lot to ask. However, it’s way cooler to offer someone an Old Fashioned then Whiskey Soda, is it not? Regardless, it’s important to have a decent assortment of alcoholic beverages for all occasions and all kinds of guests.

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