9 Essentials every home bar needs for the holidays

Dec 9, 2014 at 8:00 a.m. ET

Bring on the holiday cheer! From mixers to muddlers to maraschino cherries, do you have what it takes to stock a top-notch home bar for the holidays? Use this as a guide to help ensure you're ready to serve friends who come calling this holiday season.

1. Bar tools

Be sure to have the right tools for your home bar

Image: Kevin O'Mara/Flickr

What good is a bottle of wine without a corkscrew, a bottle of beer without an opener or the makings for a shaken-not-stirred martini without the shaker? Because these items seem so obvious, you might overlook them, which will leave you to hustle all over the kitchen for the right tools. Also consider a jigger (to measure your shots), stir sticks, a muddler (to help extract juice from fruit or oil from mint), an ice bucket and ice.

2. Garnishes

The right garnish can make your drink

Often the best part of a drink is the bit of citrus that gets squeezed over the top or the olives that soak up the vodka for added pizzazz. Besides, a cocktail just looks naked without a nice garnish. Plan according to what you'll serve, but consider stocking lemon and lime wedges, lemon peels, green olives and maraschino cherries.

3. Cocktail napkins

Grab a cocktail napkin for your drink

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You're not in college anymore, so plastic-TV-trays-as-side-tables are probably a thing of the past. Since you don't want water rings to adorn your fabulous furniture, be sure to keep plenty of cocktail napkins on hand. Some people need gentle reminders about drink placement, and napkins will make it easy on everyone.

4. Glasses

Include a variety of glasses in your home bar

Image: Sean Garrett/Flickr

Save the red plastic cups for a picnic — it's the holidays! Make things easy on yourself by stocking a few types of glasses. Stick to all-purpose wineglasses (so you can eliminate doubling up with wineglasses for both red and white wine), martini glasses, highball glasses and all-purpose beer glasses.

5. Booze

Stock your home bar with the essentials

Image: Wicker Paradise/Flickr

When you're entertaining, keep things simple. Stock a few standard types of clear alcohol (vodka, gin and tequila) and a few standard types of brown (whiskey, dark rum and dark liqueurs). You don't have to include all of them, and if you know your crowd, then try to stick with what they typically drink.

6. Mixers

Don't forget to include mixers in your home bar

Image: K.G.23/Flickr

Don't forget the add-ins for a good mixed drink, like tonic, club soda, cola, lemon-lime soda, juices and ginger ale. If you have a good idea of what you'll serve, then the mix-ins will be easy to decide on.

7. Signature cocktail

Create a signature cocktail for your next gathering

Keep things easy and fun with a signature cocktail for an evening's festivities. Serve your special drink along with a few wine and beer options. If you know your crowd, then you can adjust your signature specialty accordingly. Consider this recipe for pomegranate pipers piping that includes Champagne (use sparkling water or ginger ale for a nonalcoholic version), pomegranate juice and fresh ginger.

8. Nonalcoholic options

Include non-alcoholic drinks for your home bar

Image: Guillaume Brialon/Flickr

Not everyone at your gathering will want to drink alcohol, so take that into consideration. It's great to have the usual on hand, like sparkling water and a few soda options, but get a little creative. If you're making a signature cocktail for your gathering, then consider making a nonalcoholic version too. Find inspiration with one of these mocktail recipes.

9. Appetizers

Don't forget to include appetizers for your gathering

It's fine to have pretzels and peanuts scattered around to snack on, but how about a few elegant appetizers too? Try one (or all) of these five creative cocktail party appetizers.

Don't forget to have fun and entertain responsibly. Be sure to provide arrangements for a safe ride home or an overnight stay in your home for those who need it.

See all our holiday articles

More cocktail recipes and ideas

3 Big-batch cocktails
12 Days of Christmas cocktailing
Best holiday wines

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