Food & Drink

Raising the Bar

Make your home bar your go-to with these pointers.

Scott Tipton knows a thing or two about making drinks; as director of beverage for Bread & Butter Concepts, he’s the man responsible for the delicious cocktails you’ve no doubt enjoyed at Gram & Dun, República and other B&B restaurants. But going out isn’t required to enjoy a drink these days; instead, draw inspiration from KC’s bustling cocktail scene and create your own bar setup at home.

To get started, Tipton recommends these basics: quality vodka, gin, tequila, rum, and some whiskeys as well as a set of shaking tins, strainers, mixing glasses and bar spoons. When it comes to mixing drinks, stick to the classics rather than diving head-first into syrups, bitters or shrubs—although if you want to take your drinks a step further, there are plenty of locally made packaged options available (he’s a fan of Kansas City Canning Co.’s shrubs).

One trick that will make your cocktails impress with minimal effort: “If you add some simple, quality liqueurs to your bar, you can tweak the simplest cocktails to give them a little life,” he explains. “Take a vodka soda and add half an ounce of a pear liqueur, some mint, and you can have a super-simple drink with some actual flavor to it.”

While mixing up your own after-hours refreshment can be a matter of convenience, serving a crowd at home will show off your entertaining chops. For best results, look to large-batch drinks like punch.

“You can throw it together a day in advance, and guests can serve themselves, leaving more time for the actual entertaining,” he says. “Or set up a drinks station with a variety of garnishes, mixers, and interesting spirits and cordials and let guests try their own hand at making up interesting drinks.”

Although chances are you’ll never compare to Tipton behind the bar, you can copy his after-hours drinking style with a timeless Old Fashioned, Manhattan or Negroni.

“The ingredients are guaranteed to be around,” Tipton says, “and you can spin off as far as your imagination will go.”

Set yourself up for success year-round by perfecting one recipe—the Moscow Mule—and updating it each season with a flavored liqueur and vodka infusion. (You’ll also find seasonal takes on the cocktail at Gram & Dun, just ask for the Mule Variation.)

Seasonal variations

Spring

Vodka infusion: Basil

Liqueur: Rothmans & Winter Peach

Summer

Vodka infusion: Mint

Liqueur: Giffard Strawberry

Fall

Vodka infusion: Vanilla

Liqueur: Rothmans & Winter Pear

Winter

Vodka infusion: Cranberry

Liqueur: Giffard Creme de Cassis (blackcurrant)

Moscow Mule

  • 1.5 ounces infused vodka
  • .5 ounces liqueur
  • .5 ounces fresh lime juice

Top with ginger beer.

For infused vodkas: To make fresh herb infusions, add a cup of herbs to a bottle of vodka and let sit for 24 hours. For vanilla, add one vanilla bean, split open, to a bottle of vodka and let sit for 3-4 hours before straining. For cranberries, add 2 cups to bottle of vodka and let sit for 24 hours.

Liqueurs can all be purchased at Gomer’s Midtown Liquors.