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Liquor stores for cocktail ingredients?

By smpc - 21 February 2010 21

I commonly mix cocktails both for home consumption and for parties, but anything more unusual than your basic martini tends to contain ingredients that aren’t exactly common at most liquor stores. I’m looking for a retailer that stocks things like rye whiskey (besides the entry-level Jim Beam variety you can get at Dan Murphy’s), bitters other than the standard Angostura aromatic, etc. I’ve checked all the usual suspects around here (Belconnen) and in Civic with no luck.

Thinkspirits.com.au claim that they supply all sorts of unusual spirits to Dan Murphys, Liquorland etc, but I’ve never had any luck with them. Is there anywhere in Canberra that you can get less common spirits or bitters, or does it need to wait for my next trip to Sydney?

What’s Your opinion?


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21 Responses to
Liquor stores for cocktail ingredients?
p1 5:27 pm 22 Feb 10

Avy said :

And for a quick pick-me-up on the way to work!

Don’t forget those three Martini lunches. 🙂

Although I has three Martinis the other day, and was pretty glad I didn’t have to go to work afterward.

Avy 4:51 pm 22 Feb 10

I commonly mix cocktails both for home consumption and for parties

And for a quick pick-me-up on the way to work! 🙂

smpc 12:30 pm 22 Feb 10

sirocco said :

Nope – I got you all beat:

Denman Cellars in Gungahlin; it’s a bit of a hike but they have the most amazing collection of unusual and difficult to find spirits, liquers and mixers. Everything from artisinal Parisian absinth, central European slivovitz, and South Asian arrack to Brazilian cachaça.

I’m not much of an American whisky drinker but I’m sure they have more than a few ryes…

I think we might just have a winner. I’ll check it out after work.

Clown Killer 11:35 am 22 Feb 10

Have you tried squeezing a white grapefruit? Old school.

sirocco 11:27 am 22 Feb 10

Nope – I got you all beat:

Denman Cellars in Gungahlin; it’s a bit of a hike but they have the most amazing collection of unusual and difficult to find spirits, liquers and mixers. Everything from artisinal Parisian absinth, central European slivovitz, and South Asian arrack to Brazilian cachaça.

I’m not much of an American whisky drinker but I’m sure they have more than a few ryes…

smpc 11:22 am 22 Feb 10

bugmenot said :

For the more unusual stuff, get online. I got a few essentials from http://www.nicks.com.au like Orange Bitters!

I’d be surprised that you couldn’t build up much of a bar from local stocks though.

Check out http://www.webtender.com and enter all of your stock into their drinks database. Get it to generate a list of all the drinks that you can make (then add the option of +1 or +2 ingredients to determine your next purchases).

Has anybody found white grapefruit juice? That one seems to have eluded me for some time…

Building up a basic bar is pretty easy, it’s once you start messing around with flavours yourself that you start to feel the limitations of living in Canberra (or Australia, for the matter). You can add an interesting twist to a martini with orange bitters, for example, but good luck getting them without recourse to the internet.

That database is a fantastic idea, if filled with the usual assortment of somewhat questionable recipes.

Sorry, I haven’t had any luck with white grapefruit juice either.

bugmenot 6:57 am 22 Feb 10

For the more unusual stuff, get online. I got a few essentials from http://www.nicks.com.au like Orange Bitters!

I’d be surprised that you couldn’t build up much of a bar from local stocks though.

Check out http://www.webtender.com and enter all of your stock into their drinks database. Get it to generate a list of all the drinks that you can make (then add the option of +1 or +2 ingredients to determine your next purchases).

Has anybody found white grapefruit juice? That one seems to have eluded me for some time…

Clown Killer 12:34 am 22 Feb 10

smpc, I think that your quest for decent rye and less than mainstream bitters and such will probably end on the internet.

Whilst rye is experiencing a resurgence as palates mature and people tire of dipshit bartenders who think that a Manhattan can be made with bourbon it’s still not a regular on many bottle shop shelves (probably because there’s too many dipshit drinkers who think that a Manhattan can be made with bourbon, but I digress … ). I doubt you’d have luck finding a wider range of rye than Jim Beam, Wild Turkey, Rittenhouse and maybe Old Potrero. The interwebs will open up markets to St. Nicks, Van Winkle, Hirsch and Pikesville.

Amer Picon and the various other orange and citrus bitters from the continent will be hit and miss in Canberra and to be honest if you find a dusty bottle in a liquor store you’ll want to ask yourself whether or not it’s a wise investment.

I wish you good luck.

smpc 9:21 pm 21 Feb 10

westyonline said :

go directly to choice liquor at braddon,do not pass go,do not collect $200….dan murphys and jim murphys is the K mart of grog

First choice is better for Scotch and absinthe. That’s about it.

westyonline 5:35 pm 21 Feb 10

go directly to choice liquor at braddon,do not pass go,do not collect $200….dan murphys and jim murphys is the K mart of grog

smpc 2:07 pm 21 Feb 10

I haven’t tried the Airport Cellars, but the Jim Murphys at Fyshwick really isn’t worth the drive. They do have a half-decent range, but spirits are a very definite third on the list of priorities – which is of course the problem with virtually every liquor store in Australia – and Dan Murphys and First Choice are both cheaper.

There are a couple of suppliers who can get you things online. Vintage Direct, aka Nicks Wine Merchants, have a small range of bitters and a couple of rye whiskies (though I last time I looked 100 proof Rittenhouse was all they had in stock). I’m just trying to avoid the postage, as they charge by case or part thereof!

dr. faustus said :

For anything a bit unusual, however, I tend to go to Vintage Cellars in Manuka. They’re the only place in Canberra I’ve encountered that stock Lillet Blanc (required for James Bond’s Vesper Martini). Not sure I’ve seen an bitters other than Angostura, however (unless you count Campari, which is widely available).

Thanks, I’ll be sure to have a look. Incidentally, Bond’s ‘Vesper’ was made with Kina Lillet, which no longer exists, so modern versions taste a bit different from what Fleming came up with in the ’50s.

Im a country member said :

I just re-read your comments about a basic Martini. I now realise that you wrote “anything more unusual than your basic Martini.”
I read it as if you were writing that you couldn’t find the necessary ingredients for a basic Martini.
Even so, there’s a much better choice than that at most good liquor stores!

…what?

astrojax 1:27 pm 21 Feb 10

i guess you’ve tried big jim (murphy) at fyshwick and airport? otherwise, you could go ask your local cellars to order you stuff in (have a chat to the lads at campbell, they’ll usually source things you’re after)

or the internet – maybe some of the on-line wine merchants also run to exotic liquor and would be happy to ship to you?

let us know how you go – good info to have…

dr. faustus 10:50 am 21 Feb 10

Jim Murphy’s (at both the airport and Fyshwick, but IMHO the airport one has a slightly better range of spirits, and is less confusing to navigate around) seem to have a decent selection of the sorts of spirits you use in cocktails (including a lot of the luridly coloured and brightly flavoured ones). For anything a bit unusual, however, I tend to go to Vintage Cellars in Manuka. They’re the only place in Canberra I’ve encountered that stock Lillet Blanc (required for James Bond’s Vesper Martini). Not sure I’ve seen an bitters other than Angostura, however (unless you count Campari, which is widely available).

Im a country member 10:45 am 21 Feb 10

I just re-read your comments about a basic Martini. I now realise that you wrote “anything more unusual than your basic Martini.”
I read it as if you were writing that you couldn’t find the necessary ingredients for a basic Martini.
Even so, there’s a much better choice than that at most good liquor stores!

Im a country member 10:42 am 21 Feb 10

A basic Martini: Good London Dry or Plymouth gin mixed with a good Vermouth! Tanqueray and Noilly Prat are available just about anywhere. Jim Beam also make a straight rye – yellow label, absolutely good enough for mixing and available everywhere! I don’t really get your point.
Dan Murphy’s stores and 1st Choice stores generally have a very good selection of spirits; certainly enough choices to enable you to stock a good cocktail bar.
I sense a bit of running before you walk here! You need to work out what you actually want before you try to work out where to find it!
Get a copy of the Bartender’s Bible, build up your bar from the lists provided and select a number of cocktails that you can make from your stock. I’d be surprised if you can’t build up a well stocked bar from what’s available at Dan’s or First choice! For really specialist stuff look online – Also independant bottleshops run by ethnically Meditteranean or Eastern European folk are always a great source of the unusual!
Cheers!

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