Are you planning on entertaining friends and family this season? Why not step up your game a notch and serve cocktails instead of the usual beer and wine?
It's easy to stock a basic bar with the essentials you will need to make many of the most popular cocktails for your guests.
You should have some basic hard liquors on hand: brandy, gin, vodka, whiskey (bourbon, Irish, Scotch), tequila and rum (light and dark).
This category includes so many options, but these basics are a good starting place: vermouth (both dry and sweet), coffee liqueur, triple sec, various flavored schnapps and amaretto.
Basic mixers you should have on hand include club soda, tonic water, ginger ale, cola (regular and diet), lemon-lime soda, tomato juice and cranberry juice.
Some drinks just aren't finished without a special garnish — think martinis and olives. Make sure you have a variety of garnishes available behind the bar, including lemons, oranges, maraschino cherries, cocktail olives, celery stalks, sugar, coarse salt, cocktail onions, aromatic bitters, orange bitters, Tabasco sauce and Worcestershire sauce.
Once you have all of the ingredients, you will need some inspiration (and recipes). This Easy Cocktails book from Barnes & Noble ($16) has all of the traditional cocktails and many of the more modern versions.
This recipe glass cocktail shaker from Pottery Barn ($35) is not only great for shaking drinks, but it has recipes right on the side for easy mixing.
Cocktail mixing is not as easy as pouring a beer into a pint glass. But having the proper tools makes it look easy to your guests.
Invite your friends, cue up your playlist and serve some amazing cocktails at your next gathering. Your guests may not even miss the beer.
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