The 12 Bottles

These twelve bottles form the foundation of 12 Bottle Bar. Here’s what didn’t make the cut.

  • Kübler AbsintheAbsinthe
    Founded in 1863, Kübler is from Val-de-Travers, Switzerland, the birthplace of Absinthe. The same family that made Kübler then produces it today.
  • Remy Martin VSOP CognacBrandy
    The Remy VSOP is 55% Grande Champagne and 45% Petite Champagne — the most central and, arguably, the finest Cognac grapes grown.
  • Leopold's makes a tasty G&T.Gin
    Gin is the undisputed king of cocktail spirits.  Built upon a neutral spirit base, great gin is a symphony of juniper, spices, botanicals, and citrus.
  • Bols GeneverGenever
    The origins of genever go back five hundred years. I like to think of it as a “proto-spirit”, a common relative to modern gin and whiskey.
  • Orange LiqueurOrange Liqueur
    With three phenomenal brands to choose from — Gran Torres, Grand Marnier, and Cointreau — it’s hard to go wrong here.
  • Pusser's RumGold Rum
    Crack a bottle of Pusser’s and take a wiff. If you don’t say “wow”, see a doctor. Then, take a sip. Taste the undernotes of vanilla and pineapple, and as you do, keep this in mind — this isn’t a flavored or spiced rum.
  • The Rittenhouse JulepRye Whiskey
    Rittenhouse is a fabulous bottle that’ll only set you back about $20. Sure, there may be better rated brands on the market, but not many. And they’ll cost you a bit more.
  • Redbreast Irish WhiskeyIrish Whiskey
    Triple-distilled in pure pot stills and aged for 12 years, the result is an unblended masterpiece of flavor and smoothness.
  • Dry and Sweet Vermouth
    You can’t make a Martini or a Manhattan without Vermouth, which makes them essential to any home bar.
  • Magical BittersAngostura and Orange Bitters
    The Caribbean’s Angostura bitters are the perfect accompaniment for sea-faring gin and rum drinks, while Orange Bitters are the key to several classic cocktails.

25 Responses to “The 12 Bottles”

  1. Lars
    April 10, 2010 at 4:55 pm #

    What are the other six!? Don’t leave us hangin’!

    • April 11, 2010 at 12:36 am #

      Bottle #7 is the next post. And, it’s a good one.

  2. Chad
    April 12, 2010 at 10:32 pm #

    I am a huge fan of Redbreast. I find it has fuller flavor than Jameson’s 12 yr old and really appreciate the pure pot still, but do have a ton of respect for Jameson’s 18. I also like Bushmills Black but think it too sweet b/c of the sherry cask aging to rank as an Irish whiskey in a 12 bottle bar. I even prefer Jameson’s 18 over Middleton’s Extra Rare, but it seems to me that the latest bottling isnt as nice as some of their previous. Do you have a dollar value in mind? And if so, with the 12 yr old Jameson and 12 yr old Redbreast being fairly similar on the shelf, why do you not consider the Jameson? And this is coming from a previous Bushmills fan.

    • April 12, 2010 at 11:02 pm #

      I LOVE the Jameson line, so if you have the 12 y.o. Jameson — and you enjoy it in drinks — by all means. There is a school of thought, however, that says blended whiskey just doesn’t work well in mixed drinks. Being a fan of Jameson Sours, I don’t completely agree. I think, overall, you’ll find that I tend to pick bottles with bolder flavors — I just like tasting the alcohol in my drinks.

      Which year of Midleton are you disappoint in? I have a 2006 but need to pick up a few bottles of 2009 to celebrate my son’s birth (one for me, one for him).

      • April 14, 2010 at 8:15 am #

        I believe it was the 2008 bottling, I will check with my local Irish pub where I was doing the comparisons.

  3. July 28, 2010 at 9:50 pm #

    I like the cut of your jib. These days I too try to keep a more limited bar, but I try to update it according to the season. Applejack in the fall, Drambuie in the winter, gin in the spring, white rum in the summer, etc.

    But this is an incredible list. Even though I cannot abide by the “new” Noilly Prat formulation.

    • July 28, 2010 at 10:48 pm #

      Daniel, first and foremost, thanks for reading! I took the liberty of checking out your corner of the blogiverse, and I can heartily recommend it to all who read this. Go here now: FussyLittleBlog

      Like you, I come at this from a food perspective. We’re Slow Foodies in this house, and I completely agree with you with regard to seasonality. With Phase One of 12 Bottles, the goal was to cover the bottles and to create a “greatest hits” of drinks to be made with them. I struggled with the question of seasonality but ultimately decided that I couldn’t present a concise list without including the Manhattan.

      Going forward, seasonality will be a key factor — but I’m sure I’ll crack out of turn now and again. More than anything, I’ve been awaiting for months (and will have to continue to wait for months) to get to Hot Buttered Rum. I hope you’ll stick around.

      Cheers, David.

      PS – Have you tried Dolin Dry Vermouth?

  4. Swanand
    March 24, 2011 at 2:21 am #

    Hello this is swani a bartender at the American bar savoy wanted to thank you for the excellent job you are doin for the industry ,got to know u more from mr Michael Taylor cheers

    • March 24, 2011 at 11:58 pm #

      Thank you, Swani. I’m very honored to have you read the blog. I guess I owe Michael a round (or several) next time we’re both in London — we know where we’ll be drinking.

  5. April 8, 2011 at 5:52 am #

    Hey twleve bottles,

    My name is Tom and I’m a bartender in Edinburgh. I recently came across your site after one of my bosses mentioned it to me. I think it’s an awesome concept, and the drinks that you’re coming out with from the Golden Age are cool. I write a blog too, it’s pretty young and still getting off the ground, but it would be a pleasure for you to take a look sometime.

    Look forward to keeping up to date with your future posts.

    Regards, Tom

    • April 8, 2011 at 6:57 am #

      Thanks for the note, Tom. Great blog you have there — I plan to spend a bit more time reading through it.

      In the meantime, anyone reading this should definitely give it a look.

  6. July 11, 2011 at 10:23 am #

    Wonderful blog: I got my “big smile of the day” from it. Although not much of an imbiber, I am always intrigued by the unique and high quality in the alcohol line., Becoming a competent mixer is close to the top of my bucket list. Many a year ago, Trader Joes obtained several cases of Plymouth gin (I think from British Naval stores because the bottle size didn’t work well for packing onto destroyers). I found it wonderful with a very fresh taste; however, I can’t seem to find it locally. Recently, I discovered Hendricks gin and it has replaced Bombay Safire as my gin of preference. Because of your blog, I am eager to try Leopold’s American Small Batch Gin.
    The oddity I have on my shelf is Prunell, a liqueur made (I think) from prune pits (can this be?) My late husband, who came from Germany, bought it after an extensive search for it. It is very tart and I can’t imagine it would ever mix with anything at all, but goes well with espresso. I will revisit your blog often.

    • July 11, 2011 at 7:12 pm #

      Haven’t tried the Prunell, but yes, pits a common in liqueurs. If you try the Leopold’s, definitely let us know what you think.

  7. David
    August 16, 2011 at 6:43 pm #

    Another orange liqueur to consider: Creole Shrub. Rich, sweet, spicy. Great in Margaritas.

  8. CantGetEnough
    November 28, 2011 at 2:53 pm #

    Can I nominate the 11th bottle??? Wild Shot mezcal!! Mezcal is like Tequila but better!  It’s smoother, a little stronger and has a slightly smoky finish. 

  9. Jeremy Mcleod
    December 14, 2011 at 12:35 pm #

    Why are there only 10 bottles on your “12 bottles” page?

    • Anonymous
      December 14, 2011 at 1:19 pm #

      Both bitters and vermouth include two bottles, so 12 physical bottles.

  10. September 23, 2012 at 6:25 pm #

    I must know what 11 and 12 are! Your blog was recommended to me by a woman playing double duty as bar tender and cocktail waitress at the best cocktail bar in town, and I can see why she likes it.

  11. March 9, 2013 at 1:00 pm #

    Thanks for the list!

  12. truejackk
    March 1, 2014 at 8:48 am #

    Hey folks! Two more bottles to go ;)


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