The Intermediate Bar

Written By Alexandra Vaughn 

After you’ve got your basics, its time to start beefing up your home bar with some additional fun ingredients as you explore more complex cocktails and flavors. Here we’ve added a second gin, rye, dark rum, reposado, cognac, blended scotch, sweet vermouth, and an aperitif as well as expanding our fruit, bitters and mixers.

Add More Spirits To Your Bar

GIN: Hendrick’s A smooth, balanced, rose and cucumber infused Scottish gin- makes a fantastic martini or gin and tonic.

RYE: Rittenhouse A 100 proof award winning whiskey that comes out of Heaven Hill distillery and displays notes of spice, citrus and caramel with just the right amount of bite. Perfect for Sazeracs or spicy Old Fashions.

DARK RUM: Gosling’s Complex, unusual, balanced and rich. This black rum made from molassas is the key ingredient in Bermuda’s national drink, the dark and stormy. Aged in American oak, the nose offers hints of vanilla, and caramel followed by a delicate herb and spice note.

TEQUILA: Fortaleza Reposado If you’re interested in what tequila tasted like 150 years ago, this one is pretty close. Using old world machinery and traditional methods, this aged tequila makes a great cocktail but is fantastic to just sip on.

COGNAC: H. Mounier La Fayette V.S. A smooth and inviting cognac for a very reasonable price. Slight tobacco, toffee and sandal wood lead to a slight, pleasant spice on the finish.

SCOTCH: Monkey Shoulder This highly rated blended scotch is a mixture of three different Speyside single malts. This made the list because it’s both sip worthy and great for cocktails.

VERMOUTH: Cocchi Torino Hailing from the Piedmont region in Northern Italy, this moscato based vermouth boasts aromas of orange, red fruits, dried fig and cocoa. Sip over ice or try it in a manhattan.

APERTIF: Campari Originated in 1860 and characterized by its bright red color, this Italian aperitif ads a bitter dimention to many popular cocktails.

FRESH FRUIT: For Garnish or Juice Grapefruit

MIXERS: Ginger Beer (Fever Tree, Gosling’s & Barret’s are widely available)

SYRUPS: Agave, Honey

BITTERS: Peychaud's

Cocktail Ideas

Now that you have a wider selection of spirits and you've added new flavors with bitters, mixers and liqueurs you've opened up a whole new playground for your home mixology! Need some help getting started? Try some of these ideas!






vodka, grapefruit juice

Moscow Mule

vodka, ginger beer, lime

Salty Dog

greyhound with salt rim


Bee's Knees

gin, honey, lemon


gin, sweet vermouth, Campari


Dark & Stormy

dark rum, ginger beer, lime juice, simple syrup



Cognac, lemon juice, simple syrup



rye, sweet vermouth, bitters, cherry



whiskey, sweet vermouth, Campari

Pro Tip:

When shopping for liquor (whiskey and rum in particular), look for “barrel” or “cask strength.” This simply means it’s been bottled straight from the cask without the addition of water. 

Why is this important you ask? Some claim that anything over the minimum of 40% ABV just tastes better but let's face it, if you’re paying for the alcohol, you might as well get the biggest bang for your buck. And, you can always add your own water and dilute to your desired taste. Read more about cask strength and filtration processes here.