First, let me say, I am more of a wine and gin gal. At home, I mostly drink gin martinis, gin and tonics, and wine. I also love margaritas when I go out, but I've never been able to make a good one at home.
I have two cocktail books (The Bartender's Bible by Gary Regan and The Craft of the Cocktail by Dale Degroff) but am a little overwhelmed by all the choices.
I'm hoping you can suggest some great cocktails I can make with any of the following bottles. Additionally, any insight you can give me regarding the quality of the liquors is appreciated, as I'm not sure which ones if any are really great and should be for sipping, and which are better used in mixed cocktails. I especially need help with whiskeys/whiskys, as I know next-to-nothing about them.
Finally, I have no idea how long most of these bottles have been in the cabinet. Some, particularly the whiskeys, could possibly have been in there from the 1960s, and some may have been purchased within the last 7-10 years. What is the shelf life of these bottles, particularly the misc. liqueurs on my list?
Here is what I have:
Jose Cuervo Especial
MEZCAL: Monte Alban (1/2 full, bought in Mexico mid-late 1970s)
Bushmills Irish Whiskey
Chivas Regal Blended Scotch
White Horse Blended Scotch
The Glenlivet Single Malt Scotch
Makers Mark Bourbon
J&B Blended Scotch
Johnnie Walker Black Label
Mount Gay Eclipse
Sailor Jerry Spiced Naval Rum
Myers Original Dark Rum
Cruzan Aged Rum
BRANDY: Raynal and E&J, both VSOP
Blavod Black Vodka
Creme de Violette
Creme de Cacao
St. Germaine (I add a splash to Champagne)
Fee Bros. Old Fashioned