Drinks

How to Build an All-American Home Bar

Stock up on American-made rum, bitters, mixers & more
American-Made Liquor Brands
Photos: Traverse City Cherries; Tasting Table, Dirty Sue, Richard Theis, Joanna Carpenter

Show some patriotism by stocking an all-American home bar—because why celebrate our nation's birthday (or any day, really) with Scotch whisky or London gin? With nearly 1,600 active distilleries in the United States, according to a 2017 report from the American Craft Spirits Association, you can rest assured that everything you could ever need is being made right here in the good ol' US of A.

"There are now hundreds and hundreds of craft distilleries in the United States, and way too many to pick favorites," Michael Neff, co-owner of Houston's new cocktail sensation, The Cottonmouth Club, says. Still, he has a few suggestions to help you get started, and we've added our own choice picks as well. All you need to do is invite your friends over and do our nation proud.

 Brooklyn Gin

"New-American gin is less juniper heavy than its London dry cousins, and Brooklyn features lavender and fresh citrus atop the more traditional gin flavors," Neff says. "Drink in a cocktail where the spirit is meant to shine—a 50/50 Martini, Vesper or Gimlet come to mind."

 Privateer True American Amber Rum

Privateer's president and master distiller, Maggie Campbell, makes a full range of highly touted rums. The True American Amber is rich and complex, benefiting from maturation in multiple types of barrels. It works great in daiquiris and other classic rum cocktails. 

 Woodford Reserve Kentucky Straight Malt

As opposed to single-malt whiskey, this new entrant from Woodford Reserve features a mash bill with 51 percent malted barley, 47 percent corn and 2 percent rye, delivering a chocolaty, balanced profile—ideally enjoyed over a hunk of ice on a summer evening.

 Don Ciccio & Figli Cerasum

Don Ciccio & Figli's Francesco Amodeo brought his grandfather's amari and liqueurs from the 1800s back to life. His latest effort is Cerasum, a bitter aperitivo based on an infusion of three types of cherries, from a recipe first created in 1906. Enjoy it simply with soda for a refreshing, low-ABV libation you can enjoy all day long, or put it to use in any cocktail that otherwise calls for Campari.

Add-Ons

 Scrappy's Aromatic Bitters

Scrappy's makes nearly a dozen types of bitters—snag its popular and versatile Aromatic bitters to give nearly any beverage extra complexity. Neff is a fan of this Seattle producer and also recommends New York's Hella Bitters and L.A.'s Miracle Mile Bitters.

 Traverse City Whiskey Co. Premium Cocktail Cherries

Traverse City uses locally grown Balaton cherries along with its own bourbon in its new cocktail cherries. They're among the only ones of their kind—being both grown and packaged in the States—and opportunity to get more Michigan cherries in your life is a good thing.

 Dirty Sue Premium Olive Juice

"A long-needed improvement to upgrade your dirty martini, this delicious olive juice will give you a new perspective on this classic combination," Neff says.

 Q Mixers

"Q makes a fantastic line of quality mixers, anchored by their off-dry tonic water that will make you wish you never had to drink soda out of a gun again," Neff says. "They have among the highest carbonation levels on the market, so your drink is as bubbly on the last sip as it is on the first."

Jake Emen is a food, drink and travel journalist living in San Diego. Follow his adventures on Twitter at @ManTalkFood.

  • Brooklyn Gin

    "New-American gin is less juniper heavy than its London dry cousins, and Brooklyn features lavender and fresh citrus atop the more traditional gin flavors," Michael Neff, co-owner of Houston's new cocktail sensation, The Cottonmouth Club, says.

  • Don Ciccio & Figli Cerasum

    Enjoy this aperitivo simply with soda for a refreshing, low-ABV libation you can enjoy all day long, or put it to use in any cocktail that otherwise calls for Campari.

  • Scrappy's Aromatic Bitters

    Scrappy's makes nearly a dozen types of bitters—snag its popular and versatile Aromatic bitters to give nearly any beverage extra complexity.

  • Traverse City Whiskey Co. Premium Cocktail Cherries

    Traverse City uses locally grown Balaton cherries along with its own bourbon in its new cocktail cherries.

  • Q Mixers

    Q Mixers have among the highest carbonation levels on the market, so your drink is as bubbly on the last sip as it is on the first.

  • Dirty Sue Premium Olive Juice

    "A long-needed improvement to upgrade your dirty martini, this delicious olive juice will give you a new perspective on this classic combination," Neff says.

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