Stocking Your Bar For The Holiday Cooking Season

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Stocking Your Kitchen Bar for Holiday Cooking

Imagine this.  You have company arriving in an hour and you are frantically rushing to finish the dessert.  You suddenly realize that the recipe calls for two tablespoons of Grand Marnier.  You freeze in utter panic when you discover that you have none.  Do you skip it all together, call a neighbor hoping that they have a bit to spare, or rush out and buy a large bottle for the two tablespoons you need?

I have had this happen numerous times.  Even as a chef, I have been known to overlook that one ingredient when shopping.  I have called neighbors, spent a great deal of money to procure a single tablespoon of Godiva Chocolate Liqueur, and have even skipped the alcohol all together, compromising the final flavor on the dish.

Then it occurred to me that there is a simple and inexpensive way to prevent this from happening.  A quick trip to the local liquor store and a small investment of $50.00 and I had built a customized kitchen bar.  Here is how to build your own.

Begin by taking stock of what you commonly use.  Sherry, red and white wine are the most commonly used cooking alcohols.  I recommend buying these in full size bottles.  There is no need to purchase the most expensive wines.  A $5.99 bottle of wine will taste as good as $27.00 bottle of wine.  The exception to this rule comes only if the recipe calls for a specific wine (i.e. Barolo).

From there, purchase smaller bottles of what you would commonly use in your everyday cooking.  These smaller bottles average about four tablespoons apiece.  That is enough for one or two uses.  If you keep a fully stocked home bar, these tiny bottles can easily be refilled.  If not, the restocking will be far more inexpensive then the initial purchase.  These smaller bottles will run you anywhere from $.99 on up to $3.99.  In comparison to the cost of a full size bottle of Godiva Liqueur, $3.99 is a fabulous steal.  One other purchase that I highly recommend is a measuring shot glass.  It measures teaspoons, tablespoons, ounces, and milliliters making measuring a snap.

Below is a suggested list of items to stock for cooking.  Tailor this list to your specific needs.  If there is a type that you use more often, consider buying it in a larger portion.

  • Amaretto (almond flavored)
  • Brandy
  • Cointreau or Grand Marnier (orange liqueur, can be interchanged)
  • Courvoisier (Cognac)
  • Chambord (raspberry liqueur)
  • Frangelico (hazelnut liqueur – occasionally difficult to locate)
  • Coffee Liqueur (Kahlua or Starbucks)
  • Gin (great for Asian recipes)
  • Godiva Liqueur (Chocolate flavored)
  • Spiced Rum
  • Jim Beam and Jack Daniels Whiskey
  • Tequila
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