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Cocktail time: Create your at-home bar

Invite your friends over for cocktail hour, and impress them with your home bar! Whether you have a standard bar in your basement or family room or a makeshift bar on a side table or in the corner of your kitchen, keep it well stocked with these suggestions.

Cocktails at home

Bar equipment

  • A bartender’s guide. Impress your guests with your knowlege of mixology.
  • At least one jigger. Always rinse or use a new jigger when switching liquors so your Scotch neat doesn’t have a lingering taste of tequila!
  • A metal cocktail shaker with removable strainer.
  • Bottle opener.
  • A good-quality corkscrew. It never hurts to have an extra one as a backup.
  • A small saucer, bowl or plate for rimming.
  • A bar spoon and muddler.
  • Swizzle sticks.
  • Festive cocktail napkins.
  • A paring knife and cutting board.
  • An ice bucket with tongs.
  • Wineglass charms. A small but essential trick for identifying glasses during a large or wine tasting party, unless of course you’d rather stock dozens of wineglasses or spend most of your party night washing them!

Glassware

While this is largely dependent on the number of people invited as well as the types of drinks being served, having these glasses in your home bar should be sufficient for your next cocktail hour. Plan on having at least 8–12 of each.

  • Wineglasses. Forget about the white wine or red wine glass concept, and find a suitable all-purpose glass instead. A glass with a long stem and tapered bowl is a perfect choice.
  • Old fashioned or rocks glasses. Perfect for a shaken-then-strained cocktail or for a “neat” or “on the rocks” drink.
  • Highball glasses. This is a taller glass that works well for more liquidy drinks and can be used for wine coolers or beer as well.
  • Martini glasses. These are an elegant way to serve a martini or other drink not served with ice.
  • Shot glasses. Sure, this glass can be used to serve a sweet liqueur with coffee and dessert, but it is more often associated with having a straight-up shot of liquor.
  • Have a glass 2-litre pitcher available for lemon-infused water or for mixing up a round of crowd-pleasing cocktails.

Liquor

Be prepared to mix your friends’ favourite drinks by keeping these popular liquors on hand:

  • Bourbon
  • Canadian whisky
  • Gin
  • Spiced rum
  • Tequila
  • Vermouth
  • Vodka
  • White rum
  • White and red wine
  • Beer

Mixes

Here are a few mixes you’ll find handy to keep stocked:

  • Orange, cranberry and tomato/clam juice
  • Sour or margarita mix
  • Bitters
  • Club soda
  • Tonic
  • A cola beverage
  • A lemon-lime soda
  • Ginger ale

Garnishes

  • Lemons, limes and oranges cut into small wedges
  • Maraschino cherries
  • Green olives (pimento stuffed or pitted green mammoth)
  • Kosher salt
  • Superfine sugar
  • Other garnishes to consider, depending on the drinks your friends want to imbibe, include pickled pecorino peppers, mint leaves, cocktail onions and whole cranberries.

More home Accessorizing ideas

Outdoor cooking: Planning ideas for an outdoor kitchen
Themes for decorating your guest bedroom
Inexpensive ways to decorate your patio

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