Raise your hand if you've made enough drinks during Covid to warrant your home an actual BAR?
I remember about six months into the pandemic when we were really starting to get antsy about being home 24/7. We weren't the type of people to go out every night of the week, but we definitely weren't the type of people to stay in night after night for months on end either. Pre pandemic, there were plenty of reasons to avoid the bars. Too many strangers and too expensive of drinks. But after half of a year had gone by, I would have easily given a stranger a $100 bill to stand too close to me at a bar while I order a $16 Old Fashioned.
The great thing about being forced to stay at home is that everyone learned out to make sourdough bread, but also how to make a decent cocktail. And even though the bars and restaurants have opened back up, getting together with friends over for drinks at HOME has become one of my favorite past times. We're too old for the crowd these days anyway and a nice dinner out is more of our vibe.
So what are we serving? Well, Coors Lights and White Claws aren't really anything I would consider impressive as a drink to serve dinner guests. We save those for the pool parties and BBQ's. Below you'll find some of my all time favorite drink recipes when hosting as well as some must have items to up your bartending game.
We've all been at a bar and gotten a fancy drink that comes garnished with a dehydrated lemon, lime or orange. They can be pricey or hard to find at the store, and so the next best thing is to make them yourself! Throw some seedless oranges with a little coconut sugar and cinnamon in the dehydrator and 4-7 hours later you're in business! Of course this is something you can prepare ahead of time and store for later too.
Now we're at the portion of this post where we move into the 'at home bartender' who likes to think they work behind the counter of a tiki bar in the tropics. Margaritas, daiquiris, or Frosé on a hot night - OH YES! The Ninja blender is by far one of the best selling blenders out there. A bonus of this baby? You can make soups, dips, smoothies, and so much more than frozen drinks too!
Buy a Ninja Blender on Amazon
Mini Ice Cube Trays
There are few things in life that make me happier than a cocktail served in a glass with what we used to call as kids, "rabbit turd ice." The drinks look fancier, I swear they also taste colder. The machines to make the small ice can be REALLY expensive so this is the next best alternative.
You really can't consider yourself a good bartender unless you have a bartending kit complete with shaker, muddler, mixing spoon, liquor pourers and more. Most good drinks require a good shake anyway so even if you don't get an entire kit, you've got to get yourself a shaker.
Cocktail Codex Book
I have to admit, I am not the type of person to buy a book on how to make cocktails. I was a bartender in college, and pouring wine at my house doesn't take a lot of effort. However, this last year, at our White Elephant Christmas Party, I won this Cocktail Book and have been so impressed with the recipes in it and in general, the background on where popular drinks started, and how bartenders all over the world put their twist (pun very much intended) on these drinks.
A Variety of Cocktail Glasses
Long stem wine glasses for white wine, stemless glasses for red wine. Different patterns for short glasses to keep guests from picking up the wrong glass. Get ALL of the above. Red SOLO cups are for college keg parties. You, are an adult and need adult glassware.
Containers for Garnishes
Lemons, limes, cherries, and olives. There are so many different kinds of garnishes you can add to your drinks, but scooping them all out of individual jars on the counter isn't as fancy as having them ready to go in a garnish dish.
A Fancy Cutting Board
Save your plastic cutting boards to cut vegetables for dinner. Prepare your fruit garnishes on a classy slate or marble cutting board instead.
If you're serving white wine or rose, an acrylic ice bucket is the best way to keep the bottles cold and keep them readily available for guests to keep pouring all night long rather than digging in your fridge every time they need a refill.
This past month, I wanted to start making fancier drinks at home and was really craving margaritas but didn't want to buy the sugary crap from the grocery store. I ended up ordering WITHCO cocktail mixers in both the Agave Margarita and Bouquet Gimlet and they turned out to be delicious when mixed with alcohol. This is a great way to offer a fancy drink but just have small batches of what you need to make it happen.
One last tip:
Choose a signature drink for the night vs trying to have enough alcohol for every type of drink in the book. You aren't an actual bar. Here are a few of my favorite signature drink recipes that you can try for your next party:
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