So on my last rant I mentioned how The Public House at AT&T park has Buffalo Trace as their Well Whiskey, which is sweet! I like Buffalo Trace as a Bourbon Whiskey and I am working on that as my next, and finally, first positive review post.
But on this post, I wanted to talk about the other piece of the rant I mentioned, The Well itself! The Well is an often under-appreciated piece of a good bar, and its long lasting effect on your wallet and your drink. The goal of my site is all about education and information on all aspects of drinking and the drinking culture, so why not take some time to talk about the Well itself.
Well what is “The Well”, precisely? It is, simply, the go-to default alcohol per type, to allow for quick drink making, without the bartender stumbling around trying to remember where the whiskey is at. The current example as it stands is Buffalo Trace being the bourbon whiskey of choice over at The Public House at AT&T. This simple choice by them, for you, saves you money because off the bat, if you order a Whiskey and Soda, you are getting a quality whiskey into that drink! What does it do for them? Well, for one it helps them establish the “quality bar” flag in your mind to start, and secondly it makes it
easier to sell even higher quality (and higher priced) whiskeys to you, since the quality bar has been raised. Buffalo Trace itself is a well priced, named bourbon whiskey that averages around $20 a bottle, give or take. A normal well whiskey, or bottle of anything, is one of those bottom shelf whiskeys you find at CVS or Rite-Aid that cost $10 for a 1.75L bottle. That stuff you make jungle juice out of, or Jell-o shots or something.
Anyways, what else is in The Well? I’ll tell ya! AND I’ll tell ya what order it is usually, stocked from right to left, as follows (and what’s in mine right now too):
Vodka – Most bars lately have stocked something recognizable like Stoli or Skyy, but plenty of Dive or Neighborhood bars still stock the cheap-o. Right now I have Finlandia on hand.
Gin – The bottle of Gin that is sitting in the well probably gets touched once a week, if that. This will stay cheap because Gin is a called out type alcohol nearly every time. No-one gets a well Martini or a well Gin and Tonic. Everyone will lay out their Gin of choice on this one – Bombay Sapphire is my go to right now.
Rum – Now we start to get tricky on this one. I’ve seen Rum’s in bar wells I have never even seen on the shelf. Like, they just make shit that sucks ass just to sell to bars for you to drink. Ask for a Rum and Coke and see what you get. I think the last time I ordered just a Rum and Coke, I was at Chili’s and they poured Captain Jack thankfully (or maybe I said Captain and Coke…guess a trip to Chili’s is in order!). I always stock Bacardi Silver by default all the time (more on that some other time). I do carry Sailor Jerry right now too, among others without digging around.
Triple Sec – The baseline Orange liqueur in a bar. Triple Sec is used in a ton of classic drinks. Margaritas, Long Islands, Mai Tai’s, etc, etc. Higher end Triple Sec’s are very well known: Grand Marnier and Cointreau. This is the only non-liquor (Triple Sec is a Liqueur) in the well and since it is used quite a bit, I don’t even use anything special here either. In fact I have cheap-ass generic $5 Triple Sec. But the difference is well noted when you use the higher priced stuff (Grand Marnier is recommended)
Tequila – My personal favorite here. Tequila is another tricky one, as it seems to have the same “shit made to sell to bars exclusively for their wells” brand of tequila inside. There is such a resurgence of Tequila these days that plenty of people don’t need a coaxing to call out, no matter how blah that brand is compared to its price, their tequila of choice (I’M TALKING TO YOU, PATRON!). Right now I have El Jimador sitting in the big T spot, but, that is going to change soon as I am nearly out and have several other tequila’s vying for the spot.
Bourbon Whiskey – Put this one on the custom stinkers straight to wells. I’ve seen upgrades here as of late, especially at restaurant bars and venue bars (like high-end bowling alleys, concerts,AT&T Park). Any whiskey can do damage, but, like Tequila, taste can be all over the place. In mixed drinks of course you notice less, and the drunker you are even less, but a good whiskey matters. At least to start off. I have Jameson right there of course. Usually I reach for the Wild Turkey, but I am almost out of it, and coincidentally Buffalo Trace has taken that spot. Since I do not normally make a high volume of mixed drinks with Whiskey, I store those bottles off to the side of my drink making area (side and bottom, depending)
Scotch – Sometimes this gets pulled and another liqueur is added in its place in bars that do not serve a lot of Scotch based drinks or Scotch itself, or if they have constant called out brands like Chivas, Glenfiddich, Johnnie Walker, etc. I typically myself keep all Scotch
on the side and for well reserved friends. Johnnie Blue is only for the closest of friends.
Brandy – Last and all the way out there is good old Brandy. Gotta love the Brandy! Or, it’s more well known, higher-priced brethren -Cognac! Most of the time a brandy and coke will suffice, but step up the game and order some Hennessy and Coke and have some fun! I stock a ton of different Brandy andCognac (I think I have 13 different ones right now) for no reason. E&J on a Thursday while playing some Xbox 360 can make a helluva nite. Chug directly from the bottle.
That sums up the booze section of the Well. On the other half, there is usually your sweet and sour mix, grenadine, lime juice, some vermouth (dry and sweet) for the Manhattandrinkers in your crew (or true
Martini drinkers…aka no Vodka Martini). Then there is a cold storage of OJ, Grapefruit, creamers, Cranberry Juice and other such accoutrements that would be needed to quickly make a drink. I keep
those in the fridge…for now till I finally buy a damn mini-fridge (friggen Costco has had it on-sale ONCE, and I missed it!!! Damn you Costco!)
This whole set-up can make easily 20+ drinks just thinking off the top of my head, without repeats or variations. You could get creative fairly quickly as well.
A solid pack of liquors in your Well goes a long way, especially during happy hour at your place, because it will ensure your drinks are better and you are not just wasting money. I back my 750mL bottles up with 1.75L bottles to refill if possible for a thorough go around with that brand, just in-case I have company and burn thru (consistency in drinks is very important, even if your drunk) I hope that as I slowly go thru more and more of each liquor out there, you yourself can build a better bar, or drop the knowledge at the bar and impress your friends with your selections. Either way, I will keep posting and get you the info you need and not keep throwing money at whatever is trendy (again I am staring right at you PATRON!)