Saturday, February 4, 2012


Nathan Gerdes at work and play

What's in your 12 bottle case?: 
Nathan Gerdes, Craft Bartender
It’s a fascinating question, one that is often asked---right behind the unanswerable “What’s your favorite spirit?”---and one that requires a little thinking: If you had to limit your available spirits to one case, 12 bottles, which 12 would you choose?
The answers, it turns out, are always different.  And the choices reveal much about the people making them. 
The ‘rules’ were simple: Only 12 bottles, any spirits you wish, and they don’t have to include bitters (they’re small, so they’ll fit in to your case anyway, and we didn’t want to make it too difficult).  You can think of it as your “marooned on a desert island” or “basic home bar” or simply the spirits that are most essential to you personally.
First one to answer the question was Nathan Gerdes, Bar Manager at H50 Bar & Bistro in Portland.  Nathan is a meticulous professional, thoughtful and precise and immensely knowledgeable about his craft. His approach to the question, and his thoughtful reply, is characteristic.  Nathan even goes one step further:  he gives you his 12 bottle case, then narrows it down to his Final Four for his desert island adventure!
Cadenhead's Old Raj GIn
“Tough one. Mainly because my “essentials bar” isn’t the same as my “stuck on a desert island bar”. For me, essentials means picking out the best representatives of each category and filling your space with the most versatile liqueurs to allow you to make the most quality drinks with such a limited supply of ingredients.
For that, my collection would include:
Vodka– Nope, sorry; I need the space for other bottles
Gin– Old Raj 55%
Michter's 
Caol Ila Single Malt
Fortaleza Tequila
Bitters– All of them (since they magically take up no space in my case in this situation)
Tesseron Lot. 53
So long as I had access to fresh fruits, juices and some basic syrups I should be able to make most any cocktail with that list (vodka excluded obviously).
There is little extra description for why I chose my selections other than they are all very high quality, they represent their category well, and they don’t repeat flavor profiles with other bottles, giving me the most versatility for my 12 bottle bar. This, for example, is why although I love Rhum JM’s VSOP, it is not on my list – it’s too similar to a tequila crossed with a cognac.
P.S.  My “stuck on a desert island bar” is nice and simple. It consists of 4 magical flasks that are never empty. One filled with Michters 10yr Rye, one  filled with Rhum J M VSOP, one filled with Gran Classico Bitters, and one filled with fresh lime juice (for scurvy).”
You can find Nathan most often at the H50 Bar & Bistro, and occasionally at the Thatch Tiki Bar, both in Portland OR; he’ll be the friendly guy behind the bar.
What would be in your 12 bottle case?  Feel free to join in with your recommendations.

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