Vail Daily feature story: Build-your-own home bar
1 ounce Rittenhouse Rye
1 ounce Germain Robin Craft Method Brandy
1 ounce Carpan Antica Italian Sweet Vermouth
1 bar spoon Benedictine
2 dashes Angostura bitters
2 dashes Peychauds bitters
Add ingredients to a rocks glass. Fill with ice and stir. Garnish with a lemon peel.
Every workday, Alex Ballesteros and Donovan Sornig set up a bar or direct someone else on how to do it properly. Ballesteros is an on-site manager for Optimum Events & Entertainment, providing mobile bars at events all over the Vail Valley and beyond, and Sornig is the bar manager of Mountain Standard in Vail Village.
These mix masters know how to make you a drink, but they also know how to create and stock a home bar. Border your dining room with this libation station:
1 set of shaking tins
1 large mixing glass
1 long bar spoon
1 paring knife — size and style are of personal preference
1 8-inch chef knife
1 cutting board
Ice bucket and tongs
GET YOUR GLASSWARE
Sornig says this is an area that can become fun, expensive and addictive.
“Every home bar should have a couple rocks glasses for your neat spirit drinkers, a couple martini glasses of any style for someone who wants a cocktail served ‘up,’ and a couple of fun, random cocktail glasses for those great dinner/cocktail parties,” he explains.
Glassware is all personal preference and style, he adds. For Sornig, he says he likes a mix of cheap, expensive and vintage cocktail glassware. He recommends Libbey Glass as a brand for stylish and reasonably-priced glassware.
IN THE SPIRIT
“I work behind a bar, and cocktails and spirits are my passion,” said Sornig. “I did not acquire all of these spirits in one swoop — this is a bar that I have built over time. To be real, one bottle of vodka, whiskey, sweet vermouth, dry vermouth and some bitters will take you a really long way.”
These are the bottles behind Sornig’s bar at home, with his notes included:
One bottle of CapRock Vodka
One bottle of CapRock Gin (The vodka and gin are produced in Hotchkiss.)
One bottle of Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey (a Colorado whiskey produced in Denver by master distiller Rob Dietrich) and one bottle of Rittenhouse Rye (a cost-efficient, great-tasting rye whiskey)
One bottle of Glenmorangie 10-year Scotch
One bottle of Germain Robin Craft Method Brandy (VSOP-level brandy that is cost efficient and produced in Ukiah, California)
One bottle of Tequila Ocho Reposado (a single-estate tequila that is great with cocktails and great on its own)
One bottle of Leopold Brothers Absinthe (a Denver-based company that does a great job with every product in their lineup)
One bottle of Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth (This is a bar staple.)
One bottle of Dolin Dry Vermouth (also a bar staple)
One bottle of Benedictine (You can’t go wrong with having a small bottle of this in the house.)
One bottle of Angostura Bitters (a must have)
One bottle of Peychauds Bitters (a must have)
One bottle of Regans Orange Bitters (a must have)
One bottle of Fernet Branca (an industry favorite)
One bottle of Mezcal Vago Tobola (a really great bottle of Mezcal)
“There is always room for a nice bottle of bourbon, or two or three,” Sornig adds.
For mixers, Sornig suggests Fever Tree. He says they produce a fantastic tonic water and ginger beer that are real “game changers.”
For fruit, it’s always good to have some fresh lime, lemon and orange handy when making cocktails.
“As far as the products you are going to use, the spices, herbs and even the fresh fruit, use local as much as possible,” said Ballesteros. “It always makes a difference, just like in a kitchen. It’s always about the quality, not the quantity.”
Paul Cuthbertson set out by himself around 3 p.m. Friday from the trailhead that leads up to the Polar Star Inn, according to his father, Mike, but never made it to the popular backcountry hut as a late-spring snowstorm moved in.