Secrets of a home bartender

Whether you’ve secretly always wanted to hop over the counter in your favourite watering hole so you could mix a variety of drinks and look cool while doing so or you’re just gearing up for a holiday get-together, you’re in the right place. Being a good bartender and responsible host isn’t necessarily hard; it just requires a good memory, the right equipment and some planning. Here are a few tips to get you going.

home bartending tips

Be a “hostess with the mostest”

This may seem obvious, but one of the things bartenders do upon your arrival is make you feel welcome and at ease. If you are a stressed-out or ill-prepared hostess, your guests will pick up on it, and it will make them feel more like an inconvenience than welcome guests. To do this, you need to relax as much as possible. That means figuring out how much time it will take to prepare for your party, and giving yourself a two-hour cushion before guests arrive.

Along these same lines, have a place for coats as guests arrive. After greeting them, ask what they’d like to drink. Don’t forget to introduce people who don’t know one another. Nothing is more awkward than a room full of strangers trying to make painful conversation while you mix drinks.

Be properly stocked

Memorable bartending is directly related to impressive flair and technique. That your drinks aren’t award-winning will matter less if you look good making them, and if the drinks are visually pleasing when you’re done. You can accomplish these goals by having bartender supplies on hand, such as shakers (for martinis), margarita rimmers (for salting the rims of margarita glasses) and bottle pourers (preferably chrome). Stock your refrigerator with drink garnishes such as limes, lemons, olives and cherries. If you reallywant to make an impression, consider drink umbrellas, beads and glass stem decorations. Also offer all guests a variety of alcohol-free mocktails, punch, pop, water, tea and coffee.

Be responsible

Don’t have an open bar where guests serve themselves. Serve drinks yourself, or designate a bartender. Use a jigger to measure drinks; they’ll taste better, and you’ll be sure you’re serving standard pours.

Canada’s first set of national low-risk alcohol drinking guidelines was recently introduced for women and men. To find more information about these recommendations, visit the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse.

Be informed

Faking your way as a professional bartender is all about smoke and mirrors, as mentioned above. Take this one step further by making certain you have all the right glasses for all the right drinks. If you serve a martini in a margarita glass, it will scream “amateur” to your guests. To play home bartender correctly, you need an inventory of wine, beer, margarita and martini glasses. The glasses you have in your cabinet will work well for mixed drinks.

Visit LCBO for cocktail and food recipes, as well as tips and advice on entertaining.

Be creative

Last on the list for home bartenders is a unique drink menu. Spend a little time on the Internet or buy a drink recipe book so you can wow the crowd with drinks like Brandy Eggnog, Peppermint Cacao Cocktails, Chocolate Chip Martinis and Pomegranate Sparklers. Also offer all guests a variety of alcohol-free mocktails, punch, pop, water, tea and coffee.

Learn how to perfect your pour for beer, wine, spirits and coolers by trying the Home Bartending Challenge at Deflate the Elephant.

Read more

Plan the perfect drink menu for your holiday party
Our favourite holiday party drinks
Tips for responsible drinking around the holidays


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