8 Essentials Every Home Bar Should Have
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Raising the Bar1 of 9
By Naomi Chrisoulakis
Whether you're throwing a big holiday bash or hosting a small dinner for friends, having a stylish aperitif for your guests is the best way to kick off the evening. If you don't know the difference between a jigger and a muddler, not to worry. We have all the tips you need to become a master mixologist before your next party.
The Hard Stuff2 of 9
Stock your home bar with liquors that will cover classic drink recipes. Chris Simmons, head mixologist at Rancho Santa Fe's Pony Room in San Diego, points to vodka, gin, rum, bourbon, tequila and triple sec as the staples. "If you want to take it up a notch, I would also include a high-quality dry vermouth such as Dolin and sweet vermouth such as Carpano Antica," he says. To preserve these liquors longer, keep them in a cool, shady place when they're not being served.
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The Soft Stuff3 of 9
Mixers are essential for those craft cocktails—plus, they come in handy for when you need non-alcoholic options. For tasty drinks and creative mocktails, have simple syrup, Angostura bitters (used in various drinks like mojitos and Manhattans), tonic water, seltzer, lemonade, Coca-Cola and a selection of juices at the ready (Simmons recommends orange, cranberry and pineapple). And don't forget the ice—you'll need a pound per guest at a cocktail party.
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The Equipment4 of 9
Simmon's says to choose a Boston shaker (a multitasking two-piece shaker with a metal bottom and tempered glass that can be used for shaking or stirring), a jigger for measuring liquor, a muddler that mashes fruit and herbs for drinks like mint juleps and caipirinhas, a vegetable peeler, handheld citrus juicer, a strainer to pour a cocktail into a glass without the ice falling into the glass, and a bar spoon that is long enough to reach the bottom of your glasses for stirring.
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Gorgeous Garnishes5 of 9
Every good cocktail needs a dose of prettiness, and that's where your garnishes come in—they add a hint of color and flavor. Stock up on whole lemons and oranges (so you can make "twists" with your vegetable peeler), high-quality Maraschino cherries (usually available at liquor stores), green olives, mint and basil.
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The Glassware6 of 9
Every good bar should have three kinds of glasses, says Simmons: a set of tumblers (think squat and short for drinks like white Russians or a simple whiskey on the rocks), tall glasses called highballs for drinks like a Tom Collins or a screwdriver, and martini glasses.
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The Per-Guest Ratio7 of 9
For your average two-hour cocktail party, keep extra glasses on hand since a lot of people put down their drinks and don't remember where they left them. Strategically place coasters and linens on surfaces you don't want ruined by drinks that may drip or sweat.
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Trade Secrets8 of 9
You've got the equipment, now you need the know-how. The first rule of cocktail club, according to Simmons, is "Citrus and sugar go hand in hand. If a drink is too tart, just add a touch of simple syrup. Conversely, if a drink is too sweet, just add a touch of lime or lemon juice." This holiday season, pick up this gingerbread-flavored version—it will add a little pep to your hot toddies and other winter cocktails.
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Drinker's Resource9 of 9
Now that you have the tools and ingredients and you're ready to start shaking your cocktail maker, pick up Handcrafted Cocktails: The Mixologist's Guide to Classic Drinks for Morning, Noon & Night. Included are 100 classic cocktail recipes designed to go along with any party you may throw—from brunch and happy hour cocktails to dinner and post-dinner nightcaps. Cheers!
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