Behind the bar, Café Europa
cocktail guru Susan Avery -- profiled in this week's Best Of issue ("The Mixmaster"
) -- balances classic style with curiosity and restless invention. But she's no snob. When we asked what to put in our liquor store shopping cart to start a good home bar, she offered some down-to-earth advice.
All right, then -- how about scotch?
Something good and all-purpose, Avery says; she recommends keeping a bottle of Dewar's on hand. You'll need club soda for guests who don't sip neat.
Blended whiskey? Avery suggests Seagram's VO.
Bourbon? Maker's Mark.
Gin? Bombay Sapphire.
Tequila? She doesn't name a brand but reminds you to have Cointreau
and limes (or, if you must, lime juice) on hand if you're going to reveal your tequila stash.
Rum? Bacardi Silver. ("If someone wants a mojito
," Avery says, "she can bring her own mint.")
What about vodka, the lifeblood of Avery's excellent martinis? Grey Goose, perhaps?
"I don't like it at all," she says, laughing. She prefers Svedka, the quintuple-distilled Swedish brand she uses for her infusions. She also likes potato vodkas
, such as the Polish brand Chopin.
Your company probably won't stay friendly if you don't feed them. And Avery -- like her husband, fellow industry veteran Lazer Avery, who tends bar at Blue Stem -- actually prefers wine to liquor. So start your bar stocking, she says, with good everyday table wines: a Sauvignon Blanc, a Cabernet, a Merlot. Don't be afraid to buy big, as in 1.5-liter bottles of your favorites.
Oh, and one more thing: "Always have Champagne or a sparkling wine in the refrigerator, in case someone has something to celebrate," she says.
Great tip: remembering that drinking can signal optimism.
(Photo by Angela C. Bond)