Going out for a drink is easy, but having friends over for cocktails can be a bit harrowing if you haven’t taken the time to set up and stock your personal liquor cabinet. Most drinks can be created from a few key ingredients, but if you don’t have them or know how to make them, you may look like the college guy still serving beer out of a keg. Here are a few tips for establishing a great home bar that will impress and quench any thirst.
Storage: Get a cabinet or liquor cart that can keep the alcohol cool and out of the sunlight. Of course, something simple will do, but a luxe mid-century liquor cart will definitely impress. Most alcoholic beverages can be kept in a dry cabinet, some like white wine, vermouth (also a wine) can be kept chilled in the refrigerator, as well some people prefer to keep their vodka and after dinner drinks like limoncello chilled in the freezer.
Glassware: In order to meet the needs of your guests, you should have various types of stem and glassware. A fully stocked bar must have wine glasses, martini glasses, short and tall glasses and for those really rockin’ parties, be sure to have some shot glasses. It’s best to have a set of 6 or 12 of each in order to accommodate your party guests.
Tools: Next you’ll need to stock up on all the tools to make it easy to create great cocktails. The essentials include a cocktail shaker, a bar spoon, a jigger, an ice bucket and thongs, a strainer and a muddler. The cocktail shaker is great for mixing drinks. The bar spoon can be used to stir rather than shake a drink (think James Bond – “martini, straight up, shaken, not stirred). A jigger is used to measure and pour the alcohol and the muddler is used to press or muddle fruits, herbs or spices to get the juice out for special cocktails.
Alcohol: Ah, the main ingredient for a great bar! It’s best to have at least 6 basic liquors in stock. Vodka, Gin, Rum, Tequila, Whiskey and Bourbon will accommodate the most frequently requested drinks. Also have a good white and red wine on hand as well as a bottle or two of champagne.
Mixers: The final element of a great home bar is having all the possible mixers available. These should include, soda water, tonic, bitters, vermouth, Cointreau, juices like orange and cranberry.
Extras: Don’t forget to have plenty of ice on hand and of course, fresh lemons, limes, olives, cherries, and other types of added items like pearl onions, celery, or oranges necessary for a perfect and fresh cocktail. And if you’re not certain about how to make a drink, be ready to Google the recipes.
Be sure to have other non-alcoholic drinks on hand for those friends who are driving or don’t drink. Sodas, juices, sparkling water and non-alcoholic beers are good options to offer. Now just add the people, the right music, great lighting and the party should get started with the first drink. Enjoy and celebrate.