Consider it a testament to Kayoko's power of persuasion that I'm doing a Fridgin' Out post. You wouldn't otherwise know this, but for some time now I've been averse to the idea. The notion that strangers would open their refrigerators so other strangers can peer into them for no purpose beyond plain curiosity is a bewildering one if you think about it--hell, I don't even like my friends opening my refrigerator. I suppose I have yet to fully reconcile my notions of privacy with our culture's ever-increasing fascination with sharing everything at all times, however trivial.

But as the Care Bears used to say, "sharing is caring," and I'm a pretty caring fellow. Besides, at Umamimart we're more than friends, we're family. However, instead of the usual refrigerator round-up, I'll run through everything currently stocked in my liquor cabinet to show you what I'm mixing with these days. Trust me it's much more interesting than my refrigerator. Those celebrities on MTV Cribs got nothin' on this!

The Cubans (don't tell anyone!), above, from left to right: Havana Club Silver Dry Rum; Havana Club Anejo 7 Yr; Ron Caney Anejo Centuria (distilled in the factory that was home to Bacardi prior to the revolution)

My other rums: El Dorado 15 Yr Old (Guyana); Pyrat (Anguilla); Pampero Ron Anejo Anniversario (Venezuela); Don Q Grand Anejo (Puerto Rico); Appleton Estate V/X (Jamaica)

More rums: Starr African Rum (Mauritius); Brugal Anejo (Dominican Republic); Ron Abuelo Anejo (Panama); Cruzan Single Barrel Estate Rum (St. Croix); Cockspur Old Gold Special Reserve (Barbados)

The Irish: Redbreast 12 Yr Aged Irish Whiskey; Jameson Irish Whiskey

Hendrick's Gin; Don Julio 1942 Tequila Anejo; Pitu Cachaca

The Vodkas: Grey Goose; Smirnoff Triple Distilled 100 Proof; Absolut Pears

A mini variety set of Bajan rums

Liqueurs, mixers, and modifiers: Homemade strawberry liqueur; Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur; Triple Sec; Blue Curacao (I know, I'm sorry, but it's a vestige of the past, when the homies requested mixed dranks)

More liqueurs, mixers, and modifiers: Romana Sambuca; Luxardo Maraschino; Campari; Grand Marnier

Still more: Midori (another holdover from the past); Rose's Grenadine; Noilly Pratt French Vermouth; Persian Rose Water; Sadaf Orange Blossom Water (for cocktails like the Ramos Fizz)

The creamy and dreamy: DeKuyper Buttershots Liqueur (Butterscotch); Cask & Cream Chocolate Cream Liqueur; Bailey's Irish Cream; Crisma Rum Cream Liqueur

Bitter 'til the end: Angostura Bitters; Peychaud's Bitters; Fee Brothers Rhubarb, West Indies Orange, Grapefruit, Peach, and Mint Bitters (did I leave any out?)

Above the rim: Stirrings Mojito Rimmer (center); Chocolate, Pomegranate, Cosmo, and Lemon Drop flavored rimming sugars.

I know you're probably thinking, "What an asshole, he calls himself a mixologist yet he doesn't even have any bourbon or scotch!" But first of all, don't call me an asshole. Second, I don't call myself a "mixologist." There's something about the term that rubs me the wrong way. It reminds me too much of the garbage man calling himself the "sanitation engineer." Third, I can't be expected to have everything at all times--especially in this terrible economy--but best believe I don't go too long without my scotch or bourbon. Also keep in mind I live in an NYC apartment and have to donate some clothes in order to make space every time I buy a new bottle. However as you can see I'm a huge fan of rum. For the liquor collection I aspire to acquire, I suggest you check out Kaiser Penguin's.

So there you have it, my soul revealed. Feel free to stay and look around, just don't touch the Cubans!

Come back every Wednesday for Paystyle's weekly Happy Hour column.

Photography by Vanessa Bahmani
Column: Happy Hour


  • Actually my liquor cabinet pretty much always looks that way. I only set things up when taking the grouped bottle photos, but that’s it.

    As well stocked as people may think this is, I can instantly think of a bunch of stuff that I don’t have right now. But of course with the economy the way it is, you really have to pick and choose. No more buying a bottle just to have it. If the economy were this way years ago I wouldn’t have the rum collection that I do.

    Paystyle on

  • hahaha, it looks like you organized the cabinet before taking the pic… also, i know this is my twelve-year-old-boy sense of humor, but “rimming sugar” always sounds dirty to me! giggles and you’re right: mtv cribs has nothing on you… in fact, i don’t know anyone who has an old school liquor cabinet like this ~ not just liquor but mixers and all. i am sure it will come back in vogue as money gets even tighter, sorta like the victory garden. :)) thanks for sharing!

    kayce. on

  • The bottle containing the strawberry liqueur was a bottle of Lorina French Sparkling Lemonade in its previous life.

    Regarding the bitters, if you can't find them where you live you can order from It's a middle-eastern/indian store in NYC that has EVERY form of spice & rice, and surprisingly, a nice variety of bitters that I haven't found anywhere else in NY.

    Paystyle on

  • Hi,

    Where can you get one of those bottles that is holding your strawberry syrup?

    Also – where can you order some bitters online? I can never find any other than agostura around here. Unless you happen to know a place in southern california that has different kinds.


    Anonymous on

  • Your fridgin out liquor cabinet idea was pretty terrific! good job on the post

    Vanessa Bahmani on

  • Kayoko – Thanks. It was pretty fun, and I think it was a pretty good idea, putting a different spin on Fridgin' Out.

    Absolut Pears: Possibilities are endless. It tastes and smells great. Basically anything you do with vodka you can do with this, except for things that would conflict w/flavor of a pear, such as a Bloody Mary for example.

    One idea I was thinking about sharing is a cocktail w/muddled jalapeno & strawberries, lime juice, Absolut Pears, and Strawberry Liqueur.

    Thoughts on vodka: First, re-learn to appreciate gin. It's essentially juniper-flavored vodka. You're truly missing out w/o it, as a Martini shines like no other w/gin.

    However if you must do vodka, just remember the $30 rule. Any bottle over $30 is just a waste of money. This is b/c unlike whiskeys, scotches, and generally other brown liquors that attain their price tag primarily due to aging and costs associated w/additional labor (not to mention delay in reaching market), vodka doesn't endure the same procedures.

    Thus there really is a limit to how expensive vodka needs to be. Anything beyond that is really just marketing and fancy looking bottles. I mean can you believe all this nonsense w/some vodka brands costing more than good bourbon? The additional cost is nothing more than the consumer subsidizing their marketing. In other words you're not paying for that much extra quality, you're paying for Diddy to be the spokesperson.

    That being said, I do like Ketel One, and as you can see I have a bottle of Grey Goose (came in gift set w/free shaker), which I also enjoy—but it's really an unnecessary extravagance.

    When I do catch myself reaching for those expensive brands nowadays, it's primarily out of a habit rooted in miseducation. And when I can remember I go w/the Absolut, Smirnoff, Sky, etc.

    Of course there are also cheap vodkas that are to be avoided as well, both in terms of poor flavor, lack of smoothness, and hangover potential. Those tend to come in plastic bottles.

    Best vodka you never tried: Tito's Texas Vodka. Small batch, well-made, and inexpensive. Many self-respecting bars will carry it. Goes great as an iced shot to accompany some American hackelback caviar on a pototo chip.

    Paystyle on

  • Great post, Pay. I know you were reluctant to do this at first, but… wasn’t it FUN???

    Vanessa, as always, gorgeous photos!

    Pay, question: What do you do with the Absolut Pears?

    Also, can you give some insight on vodka? I always order my martinis with Kettle (I don’t drink gin, it makes me super violent- another story), but it’s pretty pricey.

    Are expensive vodkas worth the price, or is it just the same to get Smirnoff or Absolut (which is what I get if I’m poor… which is always).

    kayoko on

  • I really dig this expose.

    I particularly like the blend of cheaper rums (Brugal, Havana Club, etc.) with the more expensive ones (like Pyrat).

    Cachaca’s have exploded recently when it comes to retail offerings; do you prefer Pitu or have you tried some of the new ones?

    Nice to see Grand Marnier and Canton, Rose, Pears and even the Melon. I think they’re all essential.

    I’m also still looking for a place that sells bitters in Toronto but based on your reply earlier, I think I’m gonna try a spice shop in Kensington Market.

    Japhet on

  • When I referred to Blue Curacao as from the past, I meant as a regrettable part of my past. Sure it’s still used in cheap cocktails at half-rate bars all the time, usually ordered by the young college set.

    The point is that when it comes to orange flavored liqueurs, there are at least a handful of better options out there that taste better and won’t make your cocktail turn out fluorescent blue.

    Paystyle on

  • Blue Curacao is not a mix from the past, here in canada it is just coming back in and people are loving it hell I remember my 17th birthday and I got so drunk off my ass and I have been loviong it ever since

    Anonymous on

  • Ricky – SHHHHH! Lol, that’s actually not a bad idea, and one that I’ve thought about, along the same lines as underground supper clubs, but realized didn’t want the ATF knockin on my door!

    Paystyle on

  • I’m convinced you run a speakeasy at home.

    Ricky on

  • Japhet – I’m glad you enjoyed reading the post. However I’d disagree that Havana Club is a cheap rum. In fact, the Havana Club 7 Yr is my most prized possession—not merely because it’s not available in the U.S., but also because it’s a remarkably smooth rum. I actually prefer it over Pyrat.

    Regarding cachaca, I’ve actually had that bottle of Pitu for a few years now. I love caipirinhas but I don’t use cachaca as frequently as perhaps I should, and now that the weather’s warming I think I’ll begin using it more often.

    At the time I bought it, Pitu was really the main brand on the market. Now there are Leblon and a whole host of others on the market, and even some that are aged like rums. Pitu is now considered the low end, though I think it’s still great, although I’ve tried Leblon and enjoy that as well.

    Regarding where to purchase bitters, check out this recent thread from chowhound:

    Paystyle on

  • Count Silvio – Thank you for reading and commenting. I respect your knowledge of rums, however I’d disagree that Havana Club is an overrated rum. For example, while I really like the El Dorado 15, the Havana Club 15 is superior in my opinion.

    But of course taste is ultimately subjective, and no one can tell you to dislike something that you like, and vice-versa.

    Paystyle on

  • Personally I think Havana Club is over rated. I’ve tried most of the rums in the range and it is a solid series of “decent” affordable rums (I do not think they are expensive).

    The lower end rums in the range, however are great mixers but as sippers the rums such as HC7, Barrel Proof etc are not nearly as good as hyped.

    Perhaps as an European I do not see Cuban rum in the light most US citizens see it in, as a sort of a forbidden fruit.

    I’m glad you’ve got the El Dorado 15 on your shelf, one of my favorite rums.

    Count Silvio on

  • Brad – Excellent post on the history of Curacao liquor—I urge everyone to check it out. Btw, how do you type that Dutch letter “c” w/the hook in the word Curacao?

    Paystyle on

  • Nice collection, and an entertaining blog! My dwindling drops of Havana Club 7 yr are prized possessions of mine as well…

    I had to chime in on the Curaçao topic – while I fully agree with you in damning the harsh blue stuff in question, there’s a deeper story behind this trash-talked liqueur that many people don’t know. I went to the island of Curaçao last summer and had this to say:



    Brad Thompson on

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