The top ten things you need in your cocktail cabinet

One of the best things about alcohol is that it has a very long use-by date. Spirits, in particular, can last months in your cocktail cabinet, so it makes sense to keep everything in stock so that you can make very basic cocktails without having to dash to the shops.

Some of the more complicated cocktails require fresher ingredients, and often, fruit juice mixers will expire soon after they have been opened. But there are some items that are used more than others, and it makes sense to keep these ready for cocktail nights.

1. Bitters

Angostura bitters are commonly used in many popular cocktails including the Singapore Sling, Old Cuban and Gin Gin Mule. Some recipes prefer orange bitters or creole bitters, and it can be helpful to have these in the cupboard too, but if you can only pick one, it should be Angostura.

2. Triple Sec

You should have a few liqueurs in your home to truly call yourself a cocktail connoisseur, but triple sec should be at the top of your list. The delicious orange flavour is used in the traditional Margarita, Long Island Iced Tea and Sidecar. If you enjoy orange-tasting cocktails, keep this handy.

3. Vermouth

A key ingredient in both the Manhattan and the Martini, this elderflower drink has become very popular, and for good reason – it’s delicious! Dry vermouth is most commonly used, but it wouldn’t hurt to have a sweet red variety for more modern cocktails like the Metropolitan and Berry Blush.

4. Sugar Syrup

An essential ingredient to sweeten many cocktails, sugar syrup, or gomme, can be purchased ready-made, but it is just as easy to make your own by dissolving sugar in hot water. Sugar syrup is used in Mint Julep, Mojito, and Vodka Sour.

5. Grenadine

That beautiful red colour is perfect for brightening up a cocktail. You can purchase this berry syrup in most stores, or you can make your own by dissolving sugar in pomegranate juice. Find grenadine in Tequila Sunrise, Shirley Temple and Hurricane Suzy.

6. Maraschino Liqueur

A decadent liqueur made from maraschino cherries, a little bit of this rich drink goes a long way in cocktail-making. Used in Purple Rain, Hemingway Daiquiri and the Succulent Mule, this is one worth investing in for your cocktail bar.

7. Coffee Liqueur

If you don’t like coffee, then you could skip this one, but coffee liqueur is an important ingredient in cocktails like the Espresso Martini, White Russian and B52. If you love coffee, and alcohol, then this is one that will need replenishing regularly.

8. Champagne

Bubbles have the ability to liven up any cocktail and Champagne is a key ingredient in Mimosas and Bellinis. Prosecco is an acceptable alternative in most cases.

9. Crème de…

Crème de Cassis and Crème de Cacao crop up in a lot of recipes, so it is worth having both to hand. Crème de Cassis is a blackcurrant liqueur found in Kir Royale, while Crème de Cacao has a chocolate flavour and is used in the Grasshopper.

10. Spirits

Obviously, your cocktails would be lacking without some base spirits in your cupboard. Vodka, Gin, Rum, Tequila, Bourbon, Scotch and Brandy are all popular base spirits, so make sure you have your favourites sitting in your cupboard.

Perishable items like fruit garnishes and fruit juices should only be purchased on the day you intend to use them. But everything else can be bought in advance and used again and again! Happy cocktail hour!

This post was written by ....

Suzanna H
Hi, I am Suzanna. I would describe myself as a bit of a foodie with a side-interest in fancy cocktails. Anything sweet and alcoholic and I'm in! I am also an avid writer, proofreader and editor and work freelance through the website People per Hour.


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