The most important bartenders in history -- Jerry Thomas, Trader Vic, Bill Boothby, to name a few -- are all dead. These days, bartenders haven't achieved the level of fame of their counterparts in the kitchen, but with the craft cocktail movement reaching critical mass, we'll no doubt see more mixologists gaining notoriety in the near future. One exception to that truth is Jim Meehan, managing partner of Manhattna's PDT, an acclaimed speakeasy concealed behind a phone booth in a hot dog shop in the East Village. Meehan, author of The PDT Cocktail Book (a highly recommended read), is already widely considered a cocktail pioneer -- so when he speaks, we listen up. Meehan recently sat down with DuJour to share his secrets to a well-stocked bar, from what produce to buy to what glassware keep in your cabinets. Here are a few of our favorite takeaways from the interview:
- On spirits: "Pick your favorite cocktail--such as the Martini, Manhattan, or Margarita--and buy all the ingredients to make it. The next time you want to make cocktails at home, pick another drink, and do the same. "
- On bitters: "Start with a bottle of Angostura Bitters, and if you get bit by the cocktail bug, expand your collection to an orange bitters and Peychaud's Bitters."
- On citrus and garnishes: "For garnishes, the primary fruits to keep around are lemons, limes and oranges; grapefruit is used less often. A jar of cocktail olives (stuffed or not depending on your preference) and cocktail cherries may be kept in your refrigerator."
- On glassware: "Choose glasses that you find attractive: four to six champagne coupe glasses, Martini, highballs and rocks glasses are a good place to start. Glassware is important, but the quality of the liquid you're putting in them is more important."
- On bar tools: "You can stir drinks with a chopstick, shake drinks in a Tupperware jar, strain drinks using a soup spoon, muddle with a rolling pin, or fine strain through a towel. With that said, it's a whole lot more elegant--and easier--when you have bar tools made for mixing drinks."