Spring Cleaning: The Home Bar Edition

by Nora Furst  |  06.08.2022

A properly stocked home bar has always been a thing of beauty.  When done right, it is a dynamic collection of bottles that are versatile in cocktails or sippable on their own; the right selection of friendly, easy-going quaffs peppered with rare and eccentric one-offs to appeal to all your guests and suit just about any drinking occasion.   A solid liquor shelf should also be focussed and succinct.  Like the tools on a Swiss army knife, each bottle should have its place and its purpose. 

These past few years have reinforced the importance of a well-curated liquor cabinet, as we were all forced to hunker down and mix our own martinis.  Now that the world is opening up again and we are thinning our pantries in favor of dining and drinking at our favorite haunts, the time is right to re-visit and hone our home spirits collections. A Spring Cleaning; an airing out of the ol’ liquor cabinet; a rejuvenation. And if choices must be made, choose spirits that are produced, owned, or helmed by some incredibly talented people, all of whom, in this case, happen to be women.

This 4 ½  year-old Tennessee whiskey comes from Uncle Nearest led by the discerning palate of  Master Blender Victoria Butler, the first Black female whiskey master blender EVER.  A touch of florality on the nose, and some cereal sweetness holding your hand through a robust ABV of 59.2 percent.  This whiskey will rock your world in a classic sour. Or, throw in a big ice cube and sip it on the porch after dinner. 

Bimini Coconut Gin

Oui!  You read that right, Coconut Gin is a thing and it is banging.  This company was founded by Kristina Hansen and her husband, all 4 expressions are inspired by their summers in Maine. This is Bimini’s Original Recipe (think coriander, grapefruit zest, and hops), fat-washed with Fair Trade Certified Extra Virgin coconut oil.  The oil is melted into the gin and left to infuse. It is  then chilled until the oil becomes solid again and removed.  What’s left behind is a gentle coc0nut flavor that is present but not overwhelming.  This is a serious gin with a little sand between its toes.  Drink this in a Vesper with a lime peel, or over ice with a splash of flavored seltzer. 

Fast Penny Spirits Amaricano Bianca

Speaking of Vespers, swap this in for Lillet and play up this aperitif’s natural flavors of saffron, apricot and chamomile. Fast Penny Spirits is owned and run by Holly Robinson and Jamie Hunt of Seattle, WA and 3% of all bottle revenue is committed to supporting women in the spirits industry through their Pretty Penny Program.  Amaricano Bianca is grape-based and packed with local botanicals, from Rainier Cherries to foraged truffles. If you’re not up for mixing a cocktail, this tipple is just as stunning simply on ice – although we do recommend pairing with a lavish charcuterie board, because when is that ever a bad idea?

Appleton Estate 8 Year Old Reserve

Joy Spence is the G.O.A.T. of female Master Blenders, becoming the first woman in the entire industry to hold this title at Appleton in 1997. She has been making unequivocally delicious Jamaican Rums ever since.  This iconic pot-stilled rum is a standout however you like your cane, from  a Daiquiri to an Old Fashioned to a Mai Tai to a splash sipped neat alongside a piece of fresh coffee cake or flan, or a dang doughnut for that matter. Across the board, one of the best rums for its price and always an absolute *ahem* Joy to drink.

The Benriach The Smoky 12

A Speyside gem, The Benriach consistently puts out award-winning whiskies under the guidance of Master Distiller Rachel Barrie.  This dram combines both peated and unpeated spirit that is matured at least 12 years in Bourbon, Sherry, and Marsala Wine casks.  The light smoke on the nose gives way to sun-dried fruit and baking spice.  A contemplative sipper for rainy Spring evenings (Hot Tip: hold your glass out the window and catch a few raindrops to bring the ABV down a touch and activate the nose). Or, build yourself a simple highball with this one, adding fresh cold seltzer over ice.  Finish it with an orange peel and congratulate yourself on a job well done.