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Believe it or not, not everyone wants to drink wine all the time during the holidays, which means if you’re hosting, you’re going to want to cover your bases when it comes to supplying your guests with copious amounts of alcohol. It’s rather simple to put together a well-rounded bar, with only a few tools required to have on hand.
Growing up, my grandparents hosted fabulous parties. As a trap, they’d hang mistletoe in the entryway that most people ignored on their entry; by the end of the night they were sent out the door ready to go, full of liquid courage. Of course, alcohol was responsible for the liquid lubrication (they always hired someone to be the designated driver for their party guests.)
I can remember sitting in my grandmother’s kitchen the day before the party while she hand washed what seemed to be like a thousand glasses: wine glasses, champagne glasses, brandy and cognac glasses, Old-Fashioned glasses, shot glasses, pilsner gasses, coffee mugs, espresso shot glasses and of course, water glasses. I thought it was ridiculous that they planned to use all of these glasses—after all, I used the same glasses for milk and water, why did these drunken fools need all of those?!
As I grew older and was allowed to stay at the party until the very end, I understood that each of those glasses had a specific purpose. Not all drinkers share the same beverage of choice and not all of those beverages are highlighted by the same glass shape. Yes, there is a specific reason why your glass of whiskey is served to you in a rocks glass, why your shot of tequila is served in a shot glass and not a lowball glass and why Champagne isn’t served in a normal wine glass.
If you fancy yourself a semi-professional host, it’s important to have the right spirits, glasses and tools on hand to serve up just about anything, ensuring your guests aren’t forced to drink something they won’t enjoy (or have had a bad history with).
A Well-Stocked Bar
Part of having a well-stocked bar is having the basics to build from. Vodka, Gin, Rum, Tequila, Whiskey and Brandy are a good place to begin. If you happen to come across a sale at your local liquor store, consider picking up the following a little at the time: Cointreau or Grand Marnier, Bailey’s Irish Cream, Kahlua, Chambord, Amaretto, Sweet and Dry Vermouth, and if you tend to host a younger crowd, Fireball Whiskey. We didn’t accumulate our alcohol over night, and we try to do our best at buying things that are multi-purpose, things that cook well.
Before hosting any parties, we usually head down to our local farmer’s market or nutrition store and buy plenty of oranges, lemons, limes and other fruit to press fresh juice and for a stylish garnish to make it appear like we know what we’re doing. If you tend to make a lot of martini’s, make sure you have olives on hand!
If we’re hosting 20 or more guests, here’s what we tend to have on hand for parties:
1 bottle bourbon
1 bottle brandy
1 bottle blended Scotch
1 bottle rum
1 bottle tequila
2 bottles Gin
2 bottles vodka
1 bottle dry vermouth
1 bottle sweet vermouth
1 or 2 bottles of liqueurs, such as amaretto, Bénédictine, Chartreuse, Chambord, Frangelico, Irish cream
4 to 6 bottles white wine
3 or 4 bottles red wine
24 12-ounce bottles beer
1 liter lemon-lime soda
2 liters cola
2 liters diet cola
6 12-ounce or smaller bottles ginger ale
12 12-ounce or smaller bottles tonic water
4 liters club soda
2 liters still mineral water
2 quarts orange juice
1 quart cranberry juice cocktail
20 to 30 pounds ice cubes or crushed ice
Whisky/Bourbon is one of our favorite spirits to have on hand in the winter months, try a few of these recipes ahead of times and you'll be whipping up some fabulous libations in no time.