For many hosts the five scariest words to hear from a guest are “what can you make me?” Panicked, you start pulling out random half-filled bottles left over from parties—a selection that is less than inspiring. But it doesn’t have to be this hard. It’s no secret that more people are drinking at home these days, but to make great cocktails you need a well-stocked bar and good mixers. I’ve put together a list of affordable staples that should be in every liquor cabinet, and paired them with some easy recipes. Now you’ll hope your guests ask for a drink.
Luksusowa ($14), the affordable Polish potato spirit, works in simple drinks, like a Screwdriver, and doesn’t get lost in a Bloody Mary or a Moscow Mule.
With its beautiful balance of citrus and juniper, Plymouth ($30) is perfect for a Gin and Tonic or in countless classic cocktails, including the South Side and Martini.
Rum: Appleton Estate Reserve
You should have a good dark rum that can be sipped on the rocks and used in a fruity drink, like a Daiquiri. Appleton Estate Reserve ($28)—full of caramel and orange notes—will spice up a cocktail and is a delight to sip.
Tequila: 7 Leguas Blanco
From shots to Margaritas you need a go to blanco tequila. Try 7 Leguas ($45), which is full of earthy and citrus notes. Have it neat or mix up a Paloma.
Whiskey: Wild Turkey 101
Don’t be afraid of Wild Turkey 101’s ($20) high-proof. The delicious bourbon is full of beautiful vanilla and baking spice flavors and works great on the rocks or in an Old Fashioned or Stone Sour.
Aisha Sharpe is co-founder of Contemporary Cocktails, a global, full-service cocktails and spirits consulting firm, and one of Liquor.com’s advisors.