Kathy Kelley's Blog
If you love entertaining and hosting dinner guests, you probably take the time to create beautiful meals with paired cocktails to complete your menu. For those who entertain frequently, shopping for cocktail supplies can add time and a bit of hassle to arranging your meal. You have to go to several different stores to find the right liquor and mixers. Instead, designing and stocking up your home bar can help you be prepared for your guests at any time and make those last-minute invites hassle free. It can also add interest and appeal to your kitchen, dining room or living room space. So, what do you need to create a sophisticated bar set up for your home?
The first step to ensuring you can create delicious cocktails anytime is to have the right tools. Visit your local restaurant or bar supply store and find yourself one or two standard shakers along with a couple of strainers. Pick up a bar spoon and a jigger or two for perfectly mixed cocktails every time — for those new to mixology a jigger is a measuring tool used to portion out your liquor and mixers for balanced drinks. For beautiful garnishing purchase a twist peeler bar knife and a small paring knife. If you'd like to be able to make your own fresh mixers, definitely invest in a small juicer. Finally, top off your shopping trip with glassware. Think about the number of people you typically have over and purchase a combination of glasses to support your entertaining habits. A set of martini glasses, highball or Collins glasses and rocks glasses should do the trick. Tip—for sophisticated rocks drinks invest in a couple of rock ball molds you can use to prepare large ice spheres. Bonus Tip—you can look up cocktail recipes online, but a great bar bible is an excellent addition to your home bar. Find one at your bar supply shop or bookstore.
Now that you have your tools you are ready to build your liquor selection. You can build out your bar over time, so don’t worry about getting twenty bottles of liquor all at once or emptying your bank account to get all the top-shelf brands. There are tasty and affordable options for all liquors. Think about the cocktails you typically like to create, or simply invest in the supplies to make a few of the classics. Find a bourbon you prefer for making an old-fashioned and sweet vermouth for manhattans. Purchase your favorite gin and vodka for martinis, bloody mary's and simple mixed drinks, along with dry vermouth. Have a silver tequila on hand for margaritas, and finally, round out your selection with a white rum and a dark rum for mojitos or a dark and stormy.
The last things you need to build beautiful cocktails are your mixers and garnish. Though you will have to purchase your fresh, perishable items like oranges, limes, and mint closer to your dinner date, there are some items you can have on hand and some simple syrups you can prepare earlier in the week to save time on the day. You can purchase a jar of Luxardo cherries that will keep for a long time, and martini olives (and juice) will also stay fresh for a good while when refrigerated. Many pre-made bloody mary mixes also have an extended fridge life. Your basic simple-syrup lasts in your fridge for a long time and is made quite easily with hot water and sugar. If you plan to pair a specific cocktail with your meal, you can prepare additional mixers a two to four days ahead. Juice fresh lime for margaritas, combine lemon and lime for sour mix or create a mint simple-syrup for mojitos. Remember you don’t want to make huge amounts of mixers that won’t keep. To save on costs only prepare the mixers you need for the cocktail or cocktails you’re making that week and base your amounts on the number of people you expect to entertain.
You now have all the essentials to maintain your home bar and keep yourself prepared for entertaining anytime. If you’re new to making cocktails or are trying a new one for the first time, remember to practice ahead of your dinner to ensure you have the right combination of ingredients. Practice your lemon twists and orange peels for gorgeous garnishing, and you're ready to go!
If entertaining is a fundamental part of your lifestyle, let your real estate agent know. They can help you find a home with the best kitchen and dining space for your dinners and parties and maybe even something with a beautiful built-in bar.