5 Essentials of the Well-Stocked Bar: Fall Edition
The leaves have changed, the fall suits have come out (and so have the sweaters). Now the only thing left to update is our drinks. When we want to get our drink on, we turn to sommelier and overall food/wine aficionado, Peter Weltman. After Peter hipped us to the wonders of Champagne as a man’s drink (and not just on New Year’s Eve or in the locker room after our team just won a championship) we asked him to offer up his fab five of fall home bar must haves. In the past we’ve started these stories with a primer on the basics of your bar (See: The 5 Essentials of the Well-Stocked Bar Spring and Summer editions). But Peter challenged us to go beyond the basics and get serious about our ice. Which leads us to essential item of the fall bar number one…
Bar Essential 1 – Big Ice
Use better ice. Larger cubes will keep your sipping beverages cold, but what they won’t do is melt as fast as small cubes. The Wintersmiths Ice Baller makes brilliantly clear spheres that are as stunning as they are functional, but beauty has a price. Their technology removes air bubbles and impurities (the cause of cloudy ice) and will set you back $85.
For a more simplistic cube, get yourself a Tovolo King Cube silicone mold ($9), and you can still experience the pleasure—and decadence—of imbibing on perfectly chilled and not overly diluted drinks.
Add an unexpected twist and serve spirits out of some old school mason jars to show your guests that you may be serious about your ice but you still know how to have fun.
Larger cubes will keep your sipping beverages cold, but what they won’t do is melt as fast as small cubes.
Bar Essential 2 – Brandy
Listen, step away from spirits that are owned by companies that make handbags. If you’re a loyal Compass reader you know that we believe that just about everything is customizable and nobody should have to settle for what’s available at first glance when it comes to clothing. The same is true of your spirits.
You don’t have to go spend hours researching your choices, though. We’ve done the digging for you and found great small purveyors like Nicolas Palazzi of PM Spirits. He is a Bordeaux native with a penchant for single casks of Cognac and Armagnac, though the PM portfolio has slowly expanded to Scotch and Tequila, too (no complaints here).
Fall is the best time for his Spanish Brandy. Specifically, we like the not so easy to find, but worth the effort, Navazos Palazzi Spanish Brandy Cask 2. The same spirit that would fortify Sherry is instead aged for six years by the sea in Jerez, Spain, in old Fino Sherry casks. It is briny like Whiskey though rich notes of salted caramel are cut by burnt orange and brown sugar. Though it is around $75 retail for a .375 ml bottle, you are paying for pure quality instead of brand name.
Hint: we’ll be dipping back into Nicolas’ cellar in the winter edition of this seasonal series. Be sure to sign up for Compass emails so you’ll get the winter edition of the well-stocked bar series delivered straight to your inbox.
It is briny like Whiskey though rich notes of salted caramel are cut by burnt orange and brown sugar.
Bar Essential 3 – Madeira
Although Madeira is the name of the Portuguese island this drink comes from, it is one of the more patriotic beverages an American can throw back. George Washington drank a pint a day and Francis Scott Key downed it while scribing the Star Spangled Banner.
This wine is woven into the fabric of the United States, and because it is fortified, a sweet style like the Malmsey version is just warming enough before the weather turns downright arctic.
Try sipping on some New York Malmsey Madeira from the Rare Wine Company. Drink this as a digestif with a Thanksgiving sweet potato pie dessert drown out the noise of familial overdose. Best of all, you can open it and it will last clear through the winter.
Drink this as a digestif with a Thanksgiving sweet potato pie dessert drown out the noise of familial overdose.
Bar Essential 4 – Chablis
It’s getting cold and rainy, and we’re suggesting one of the most acidic and briny wines on earth. Yes, this sounds way out of whack, but here’s the scoop: When the temperatures go down, oysters are in the prime. Oysters are plump and fattening up for the winter.
As Christmas approaches, the French, who are some of the biggest consumers of the bivalve, proceed to rapidly consume as much Chablis and oysters as they can. It’s worth following their lead. Plus, the laser-like contrast that Chablis offers can break the warming lethargy of indoor cozy spaces.
Where will you find it? That depends on where you live, but here’s a list of places where you’ll find one of our favorite bottles, Patrick Piuze “Terroir de Courgis” 2013.
The French rapidly consume as much Chablis and oysters as possible—particularly leading up to Christmas. It’s worth following their lead.
Bar Essential 5 – Beer
With so much in transition seasonally, some habits are better left well enough alone. For rich beers that are warming but don’t cloy, have an austerity from sourness but are also nuanced, Rodenbach Grand Cru should be every man’s go to. This ruddy Flemish Ale is wild, though due to a large partition being aged in oak barrels, it tames the brews more sinister profile.
From cans to kegs, Rodenbach delivers, but for the true connoisseur experience pop the corked 750 ml bottle version of this beer and drink it from a chalice. Don’t have a collection of chalices for just this sort of occasion? That’s okay. For a less medieval way to drink this brawny beer, grab your biggest wine glass, like a Riedel Red Burgundy and pour it in.
Don’t have a collection of chalices for just this sort of occasion? That’s okay. For a less medieval way to drink this brawny beer, grab your biggest wine glass.
With these ingredients who needs to go out? You’ve got all you need to have a swanky good time within the friendly confines of your own home. Just add friends and you’ve got yourself a party.
What are you drinking this fall? Did we skip any of your favorites?
Let us know in the comments below.
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Excellent suggestions. Can’t get much classier than Chablis and oysters. Nicolas also brings in a dessert wine fortified with Cognac and aged in wood barrels called Pineau des Charantes. Killer post dinner with bleu cheese and almonds, or a cigar if you’re into that sort of thing.
We are DEFINITELY into that sort of thing, Todd. We’ll give your recommendations a try.
As we hinted above, we’ll be going back to some of these recommendations for the Winter edition of this series.