Here at Ling & Louie’s, we love a good cocktail—obviously. Every drink we make is carefully concocted to harmonize flavors with one another and complement even the slightest hidden notes. We love experimenting with new and exciting combinations and we’re no stranger to a good food pairing either!
Cocktails and other wines and spirits have long been understood to be the best friend of a well-crafted meal—all around the world and especially at Ling & Louie’s. But for the days when you just want to kick back and relax with a homemade cocktail, you ought to know just what you need to make some solid cocktails. So how do you decide what items are essential for your new in-home cocktail corner? We’re already ahead of you.
You’ve seen them, those funny bottles with the labels that are way too big to fit properly. Bitters are used for flavoring cocktails and in the olden days were used as “digestifs” before or after meals. They come packaged in small bottles but they pack a punch so be careful to use them in drops or dashes according to your cocktail recipe.
As for the oversized label: it’s a signature of Angostura Bitters, one of the original bitters used for cocktails. If you’re looking to master the Old Fashioned or Manhattan, this Louie favorite is your go-to bottle.
Many of the most flavorful cocktails out there will require some sort of fruit flavoring or another. While there are plenty of flavored substitutes you can buy to spare you the hassle of juicing, there’s just no real substitute for fresh fruit juice. Though you can store juice up to 72 hours ahead of time in the fridge if you’re entertaining, have some fruit that needs repurposing, etc., it’s best to juice it right around the time you’re preparing drinks for maximum freshness.
Simple syrup is a, well, simple mixture of sugar and water. With a little heat (a lot of heat), the 1:1 sugar/water ratio will dissolve and render a clear sugary syrup that is essential for lots of your favorite drinks from mojitos to margaritas. If you don’t think you can handle the melting process, you can also purchase simple syrup at your local liquor store.
Liqueurs, like bitters can be drunk before or after meals to ease digestion but in cocktails, these sweetened and flavored liquors can make a good drink great. If you’re going out to buy some, keep in mind there are enough liqueurs to make your head spin. We recommend the versatile Velvet Falernum with its variety of flavors including lime, almond, vanilla, ginger, and clove.
Of course, there are no cocktails without spirits, but we had to save the best for last! As probably every trip to your local liquor store has taught you, there are a lot of spirits out there, in every color and size bottle.
So what do you really need? There’s some discussion about which types of liquor are essential to a well-stocked in-home bar, but it really comes down to what you prefer and what you see yourself making. If you’d like to have a well versed bar (and one that looks way cool), some of the recommended basics include gin, tequila, whiskey, bourbon, light and dark rum, and of course vodka. We recommend a good citrus vodka like Square One Bergamot or St. George California Citrus if you plan to do a take on some of your favorite Ling & Louie’s drinks.