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Whether you’re entertaining loved ones or trying to drink them away, the run-up to Christmas and New Year’s is a good time to build or improve your home cocktail bar. Invest in basic equipment, and stock up on essential liquors. Get your tools ready before thirsty friends and relatives descend for the holidays.
Unless you already have a built-in bar, a mobile bar is the best option, as it can be wheeled out when needed and stored when not. A slick sideboard will also fit the bill – bonus points if there’s a cabinet to display your favorite bottles.
The equipment needed to mix a cocktail is simple to master, and you don’t need a lot of it.
- Ice bag
- Bar spoon
- Cocktail shaker
- Ice cube trays
Depending on you and your guests’ favorite cocktails, you’ll want to have a range of different glassware. Having a selection of highballs, rocks glasses, champagne flutes, wineglasses and Martini glasses should set you up to service any request.
A ten-bottle bar should meet all your cocktail needs, giving you the ingredients to make hundreds of recipes. Here’s the only liquor you need, along with mixers.
Bourbon: For Manhattans, old fashioned, and whiskey sours.
Gin: For martinis, gin and tonics, Tom Collinses, etc.
Rum: For daiquiris and mojitos
Tequila: For margaritas, sunrises, and palomas. The best tequilas are made from 100 percent agave; check the label.
Vodka: Vodka is the workhorse of the liquor cabinet, used in basic drinks such as vodka tonics, screwdrivers, and the vodka martini.
Cognac: For sidecars, brandy milk punches, crustas, daisies, and smashes.
Cointreau or Triple Sec: A bar essential — clean, full of natural orange flavor, and not too sweet.
Vermouth dry/sweet: For Manhattans. Essential for truly sublime martinis.
Bitters: are used not to make the drink taste bitter but to help other flavors blend.
Sodas, all of them: The “soda” in most cocktail names refers to club soda or seltzer, not cola. But honestly, having cola, ginger ale, and a fizzy citrus choice around alongside seltzer isn’t the worst idea. Plenty of people drink them, after all. Bar tip: buy individual cans rather than larger liter sizes—if you’re a regular soda drinker, you’ll know that these are your mixer stash. If you’re not a regular soda drinker, you’ll won’t lose any money on spare soda going flat.
Find a good cocktail book or app. No one knows every drink out there. So find a good guide to mixed drinks. I suggest an actual book rather than an app for a few reasons. First, drinks don’t really change so you don’t need something that is being updated. Second, you can leave it behind the bar and tab the drinks you make often. Third, you don’t have to worry about getting your mobile device wet or sticky!
Happy Holidays everyone! This time of year signals the beginning of engagement season. From Thanksgiving to Christmas, to New Year’s to Valentine’s Day, you can expect to hear of lots of couples getting engaged.
According to Wedding Wire’s 2019 Newlywed Report, 19 percent of engagements occur during the month of December, with Christmas Day seeing the most engagements. But all in all, the stretch from Thanksgiving to February sees the most engagements compared to any other time of year.
Whether you know a proposal is coming or you just got engaged during this joyous engagement season, there are immediately important things for you to set your sights on as soon as your partner slips that ring onto your finger.
1. Call the VIPs
Yep, make the announcement to your closest family and friends. You definitely want them to get the news from YOU and not anyone else. While you’re at it, call up your bridal party too. The earlier you ask your friends to be a part of your wedding the better.
2. Think About Your Wedding Style
If you’re like most brides you may already have an idea of the style of wedding you want. If not, start thinking about you and your fiance’s individual and collective style, so that your wedding will be a reflection of both of you. For instance, consider if your style is more traditional, modern, or maybe glamorous. If you choose traditional, maybe you would like to marry in a church. If you consider yourself to be modern, maybe you would consider marrying in a park, museum or hotel ballroom, just to name a few.
3. Money, Money, Moneeeey
You and your fiance should have a talk about your wedding budget BEFORE you make any wedding plans. Be sure to bring in all contributors: parents, grandparents and anyone else who is paying for your wedding. Set a figure that is realistic, within your means, and agreed upon by all parties.
4. Consider a Planner
If you are considering hiring a wedding planner, be sure to engage him/her at the BEGINNING of the planning process. This can save you so much time and money, I promise :-). We know the right people and places to connect you to and since we have planned more weddings than you, we can educate you on how to do things the right way! And remember, most planners offer different levels of service, so at the very least hire a planner for day of coordination, so that you can relax on your wedding weekend and not worry about anything going wrong.
5. Hire the Pros
This will include selecting a ceremony and reception venue, photographer, entertainment, caterer and more. If you choose to work with a wedding planner, he or she will be able to refer you to reputable vendors in each of the categories above, that fit your style and budget. If not, just remember that wedding professionals can get booked very quickly, so contact them as soon as possible.
I’ve done quite a bit of holiday hosting in my life, and even when it’s a relatively small gathering, it can still be a lot of work. The key to hosting a fun and stress-free holiday gathering is planning ahead.
Whether it be a chic invitation, delicious food, fun entertainment, and festive cocktails, there are a variety of elements that can help you pull together your very best holiday party. Here are several tips to help you prep for those parties ahead of time.
Set a Date
The holiday season is a very busy time o year. To help narrow down the ideal holiday party date, you’ll want to get the party date on the calendar early.
Put Together a Guest List and Invitations
Put together a list of people to invite and decide how you’re going to get the word out (you can send an invitation via email or post, or you can call guests). We suggest inviting your guests at least three to four weeks in advance if not sooner, as calendars fill up fast around the holiday season.
Now that you know what type of party you’re going to host and you have a guest list, it’s time to pick what you’ll serve. If you’re having a dinner party, or cocktail party choose which recipes you want to use and create your own holiday menu. If you’ve decided to host a cocktail party, put together a list of the appetizers you’d like to serve. We suggest using recipes that can be made in advance such as this Easy Charcuterie Board, which will save you time and energy on the day of the party.
Decide on Decorations
With all the energy you put into planning don’t overlook the importance of taking time to make your home shine with a creative touch. Go festive with holiday-specific decor or keep it classic with timeless decorations placed throughout the home to make it really sparkle.
Set up a separate station (in another room or area if possible) for drinks. Stock it with both alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverage choices, ice, cocktail napkins, and appropriate glassware.
Create Music Playlist and Fun Activities
There’s no party without the perfect playlist. A great playlist will set the festive tone and allow your guests to feel at ease. It’s an important element that can either make or break your event. After the dinner and drinks, it’s a good idea to take part in a fun activity that will bring the group together. My family loves classic board games, cards, and dominoes.
Prepare for unexpected
Having a few snacks and bottles of wine on hand at all times means you’ll be ready to handle any and every surprise—including unexpected drop-in guests—the holiday season throws your way. Those impromptu gatherings sometimes are the best ones. I always have an assortment of veggies and some kind of dip (usually hummus), so I can easily throw together a simple crudité. I also almost always have some cheese, like aged Gouda, and a soft cheese, like Brie. Having pretzels, peanuts, and cookie dough on hand is also a great idea. Who doesn’t love the smell of fresh baked cookies, especially during the holidays.
Keep in mind that the holidays are all about spending quality time with your closest friends and family. The evening of the party, remember the number one rule of hosting: relax and enjoy yourself. Now that you’re armed with the best holiday entertaining tips around, it’s time to plan a holiday party of your own!