There's been a lot of hubbub about what should go on a home bar. Books like the 12 Bottle Bar make sure you are well-stocked for the best and most impressive cocktails. But don't forget: design matters. As bars are becoming a statement piece, what you put on them should be as pleasing to the eye as it is to the tongue. My premise is simple: pick one bottle that speaks to you aesthetically, and build around it. Use your liquor preferences accordingly.
All the bottles below are available at Total Wine and under $100.
Milagro bottles have one big feature: the agave flower sitting statue in the middle of the bottle. The glasswork is stunning, and the bottle's minimalist label complement the spectacle. It does come in other flavors, but I think the silver features the flower best and would complement other, louder bottles.
Here is my completely biased and expected choice! I am a sucker for seeing my name written beautifully, what can I say. Of course, we all know how I feel about the liqueur (it's amazing) but the bottle is a marvel in itself. It is cathedral-equse, with the curves reminiscent of an old, French church. C'est tres French, non?
I have been coveting this skull head for some time now. It may not be as beautiful as some of the others on this list, but damn if it's not the coolest. Totally clear, so it would go with any color scheme. You could embrace the darkness with lots of black, or mix it up with feminine flowers. When it's empty, fill it with your favorite vodka (which will probably be cheaper, but even if it isn't, is the bottle as cool as this one?). At Halloween, fill it with candy. Or, save yourself the trouble and get the $12 empty bottle on Amazon.
The bottle was my first foray into beautiful bottles. My dad and I spotted it at a bar in Scottsdale, and thought for sure it was Ouzo or something Greek. The bartender told us it was Tequila, and one of the more expensive pours. The next day we found at at Total Wine! I didn't buy it, because $90, but I stared at it. And I imagined it on my bar. And it inspired this post. It's quite tall. It would look great with the Milagro, wouldn't it?
5. (ri)1 $50
I was hesitant to include this particular whiskey, because the reviews are very mixed. But dammit if I don't love this sleek, minimalist bottle. This is a whiskey bottle for the modern bar, maybe if you have a cart made out of acrylic. I love the negative space and I love the label, even if the pronunciation is hard to decipher (it's pronounced "rye one" if you're wondering). Drinkhacker liked it, the Total Wine reviews seem to agree it's overpriced.
For the same price, you can purchase a decanter that gives any whiskey you choose the same sleek look.
Doesn't this bottle just SCREAM 'Vieux Carre?' (I mean aside from the fact that it says it in bold on the front.) The design, the color, it's all very French Quarter. The pattern is similar to this pattern my mom fell in love with in one of the little shops on Decatur Street. The green is perhaps a bit greener than I would associate with New Orleans, but it is the perfect green for absinthe. Bonus, this bottle would make a stunning decanter. Fill it with cognac or rye, and you're well on your way to a Sazerac.
I was eager to find something different than Hendrick's, but still a beautiful bottle. I love the words etched into the glass. It kind of reminds me of those charts you have to read at the eye doctor, which then makes me want to call this gin The Optometrist, but no matter. This is another glass bottle that is lovely, and would look lovely with other, wilder bottles.
Ok I cheated--this one is over budget. But c'mon, look at those beautiful flowers! What an amazing impression this bottle would make on a bar (well until you chill it and drink it). if this is out of your price range, consider a gorgeous, floral decanter to get the same effect over and over (though please don't use it with champagne). Or, consider painting a bottle yourself if you have the ability.
Do you ever buy liquor just for the bottle? Would you build a bar around any of these beauties? Did I miss one of your favorites? Let me know if the comments!
Nicole St. Germain is Creative Director of St. Germain Cellars, a craft beer snob, and a wine novice. Her cocktail of choice is anything with St-Germain liqueur.