Food

How Bartenders Trick Out Their Own Home Bars

The whiskeys, gins, and tequilas the pros actually buy for themselves.

Vodka

“Absolut Elyx makes the cleanest, richest vodka cocktails I’ve ever had, without being especially overpriced.”

FB Hed: How Bartenders Trick Out Their Own Home Bars

—Chris Hassan Francke, owner of the Green Zone

Also mentioned: Tito’s, Boyd & Blair, Pau Maui

Gin

“Beefeater is a London Dry, classic martini gin. It’s well rounded and suitable for gimlets also.”

—Devin Gong, owner of Astoria and Copycat Co.

Also mentioned: Plymouth, Barr Hill, Sip Smith

Tequila

“Don Julio Reposado is excellent to sip on or make a fuller, more flavorful margarita.”

—Sarah Bartholomew, bartender at Rasika

Also mentioned: Herradura Blanco, Casa Azul, Tapatio Blanco

Mezcal

“Vida from Del Maguey is very mixable. It’s twice-distilled from 100-percent agave, and there are no chemicals, colorings, or additives.”

—Justin Mather, bar manager at Tabla

Also mentioned: Cinco Sentidos Tobalá, Banhez Espadin Ensamble

Bourbon

“I’ve had the Four Roses Yellow Label as my cabinet bourbon for a long time. It’s well balanced between its corn sweetness and rye spice.”

—Adam Bernbach, bar director at Oyster Oyster and Estadio

Also mentioned: Basil Hayden, Wild Turkey 101, Eagle Rare 10 Year

Rye

“Rittenhouse 100 is a higher-proof rye that’s great with all kinds of shaken and stirred drinks. I also enjoy a beer-and-shot combo.”

—Dante Datta, co-owner of Daru

Also mentioned: Dickel, Willett 4 Year, Old Forester

Scotch

“Balvenie 14 Year—it’s finished in Caribbean rum casks. This Scotch has such a smooth mouthfeel. It’s not going to give you an overly peated taste at all.”

—Kapri Robinson, bartender at Reliable Tavern

Also mentioned: Bank Note, Dalmore 12 Year, Talisker 10 Year

Rum

“Neisson Rhum Agricole Blanc is my favorite mixing rum. The texture is velvet, and it’s the key to making classic daiquiris next-level.”

—Chantel Tseng, bartender and cocktail consultant

Also mentioned: Smith & Cross, Bacardi Superior, Flor de Cana 7 Year

Sweet Vermouth

“Mancino Bianco Ambrato—a sweet white vermouth—is very delicious on its own but great in cocktails. It’s also good with tonic for a low-ABV sipper.”

—Al Thompson, bar director at Hanumanh

Also mentioned: Cocchi Torino, Capitoline Rosé

Dry Vermouth

“Dolin, a beautiful, classic Alpine vermouth, marries perfectly with London Dry gins for a razor-sharp martini.”

—Adam Bernbach, bar director at Oyster Oyster and Estadio

Also mentioned: Capitoline White, Mancino Secco

Bitters

“Bitter End Mexican Mole bitters is great in tequila and mezcal cocktails and for Mexican hot chocolate.”

—Amin Seddiq, bartender at Taco Bamba

Also mentioned: Angostura, Regan’s Orange, Peychaud’s, Bitter Truth’s Jerry Thomas Own Decanter

Tonic Water

“Q Sodas. It’s all about the bubbles—bigger the better. The tonic equivalent of Topo Chico.”

—Eddie Kim, bartender at Room 11

Also mentioned: Fever Tree Indian Style, Fever Tree Mediterranean Style

Extras

Campari

Chartreuse

Cointreau

Gordy’s pickle brine

Luxardo maraschino cherries

Y-peeler and citrus

Mexican Coke

Don’t Miss Another New Restaurant—Get Our Food Newsletter

The latest in Washington’s food and drink scene.

Or, see all of our newsletters. By signing up, you agree to our terms.
Ann Limpert
Executive Food Editor/Critic

Ann Limpert joined Washingtonian in late 2003. She was previously an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and a cook in New York restaurant kitchens, and she is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She lives in Logan Circle.