Nicky’s Coal Fired, Nashville’s most-loved Italian restaurant, not only offers incredible pizza served straight out of their coal fired oven, they also offer one of the city’s best bar programs.
Their Italian-influenced drink menu boasts a variety of authentic Italian amari, a large selection of wines and draught beers, and of course, an eye-catching cocktail list.
If there’s one thing Nicky’s Food & Beverage Director, Tracy Jenkins, knows how to do, it’s creating a stand-out home bar that will impress your guests. Here are her top tips and suggestions for livening up your “at-home bar” with interesting and worldly liquors, liqueurs and mixers.
Tracy’s Top Picks for an At-Home Bar
Bringing in the most flavor with the fewest number of bottles is key. If you’re starting from scratch, or even refreshing an old bar cart, Tracy suggests the following must-have essentials
- A Sweet Vermouth: While vermouth is essential to mixing classic recipes like a Negroni and Americano, sweet vermouth can also be sipped and enjoyed on the rocks. Tracy suggests sampling a bottle of Alessio, Mancino, or Carpano Antica, a popular Italian vermouth with bursts of vanilla, clove, orange peel and toffee.
- A Bitter Aperitif: Aperitifs are another great multi-purpose essential which can be used as a mixer or alone. Campari and Aperol are the most well-known, but two of Tracy’s favorites are Gran Classico and St. George Bruto Americano. Mix with equal parts Rye Whiskey for an easy Boulevardier.
- An Amaro: Amari are bitter Italian digestifs that are great for sipping after a meal, but Tracy suggests adding amari to classic cocktail recipes (like a Manhattan) for a deeper flavor profile. CioCiarro is a good starter amaro that is slightly less bitter than more traditional versions.
- A Sophisticated Orange Liqueur: Ditch your old bottle of triple sec in favor of a more refined and less sweet flavor. Tracy’s favorite is Pierre Ferrand Dry Curacao, an orange-flavored liqueur with aromas of orange blossom, candied orange zest and notes of toasted wood. This refreshing mixer is the perfect substitute in cocktails like the margarita, sidecar and Mai Tai.
After your home bar is stocked, mix up one of Tracy’s favorites!
- 1 muddled Strawberry
- 1 1/2 oz. Dry Gin (or Vodka)
- 1/2 oz. Campari
- 1/2 oz. Honey
- 3/4 oz. Fresh Lemon Juice
- 1/2 oz. fresh OJ
- Sparkling Rosè (to top)
- Orange Slice (for garnish)
Preparation: Muddle strawberry, then shake all ingredients, strain over ice and top with sparkling rosè. Garnish with an orange slice.