‘Tis the season for entertaining. About to lose it because it’s your turn to host the big shindig? And you know your friends love to party hearty? Don’t be alarmed. We’ve got everything you need to set up the perfect home bar and become the most popular bartender around. At this time of year, your house is bound to turn into a revolving door of parties, get togethers and rollicking good times. Which of course means drinkies. Lots of ’em—both alcoholic and not (designated drivers should get some love, too, right?). Just remember: The perfect hostess who always makes time to party (that’s you!) also plans ahead.
HOW TO CREATE A HOLIDAY BAR
The first step? Barware. Time to set up your very own moving bar cart.
Maybe we’ve been watching too much Mad Men, but the idea of serving cocktail after lovely cocktail brings out the Betty Draper in us. Here’s how.
FIND THE BAR
Choose a bar cart that suits your home. We love this brass one by Threshold at Target ($129.99). It’s got wheels, so it can also do double duty as an elegant tea service.
Stock your bar with bevvies and everything you need to serve them. Depending on the type of party you’re having, we recommend:
Wine – We love the Pinots (Noir and Grigio, take your pick) or a nice crisp Chardonnay. For big cheers, clink glasses with sparkling Prosecco. How much to buy: One bottle will serve approximately 5 glasses. Unless your friends are lampshade wearers, estimate 3 glasses per wine drinker.
Beer – There are guys who will love you for it. So get a lot. Which ones? Stock up on an assortment of local microbrews and big brands (for the plebes). For a change of pace, we kinda dig Ginger Beer. It’s great with whisky.
Cocktails – Unless you want to play bartender all night, keep it simple. Choose one signature cocktail and stick with it. Better yet, make a pre-made recipe in a pitcher and keep pouring. You’ll also need a few essential spirits for those who like it over ice. We always keep gin, vodka, rum, and a good whisky on hand. If you’re feeling generous, add rye, scotch, and tequila (but be prepared for the Bad Santa this one may bring up.)
Mixers – Cola, lemon-lime, lemonade, cranberry juice, orange juice, soda water and tonic. That’s all she wrote.
Essentials – Stock up on ice, sliced lime and lemon. If James Bond is coming, you’ll need olives, and depending on your signature drink, you may need sugar or simple syrup (but really, why bother?).
Tools – Keep over-pouring under control with a few jiggers (measured shot glasses). It’s nice to have a cocktail shaker, a little pair of tongs, a small knife or two, and a few spoons, stir sticks and straws. Keep a little bowl on your cart for discarded limes and lemons.
ACCESSORIZE THE BAR
1. Glasses: For the love of all things delicious, please invest in a few boxes of inexpensive glassware. Nobody likes to drink their holiday cheer out of red solo cups. These Threshold wine stems (4-pk, $19.99)will do the trick. You’ll also need highball and lowball glasses for cocktails and other libations. Unless you’re shaking it up, you can do without martini glasses.
2. Christmas Kitsch: Since it’s that season, you may as well bring some festive red onto your Christmas bar cart. This super-fun Threshold cask with chalkboard label (36.99) and matching steins ($14.99 each) are just right for hot toddies, mulled wine or cider, egg nog (ewww!), or even a spiked punch. How cute are those toppers?
1. Wine and Cheese: Of course there’s going to be food. After all, it’s a party. Nothing goes better with wine than cheese, so you need this little silver tray ($19.99) and cheese marker set ($9.99) plus the matching spreading knives ($10.00). These beaded snack bowls from Threshold ($14.99) are just right for nibblies or candy.
2. Settings: Just add some snazzy chargers for a touch of class ($12.99 each).
4. Finishing touches: Complete your bar service with with extra seasonal touches. Strategically placed on your cart, they’ll add that special personal flair. For some festive fun, decorate with whimsical mugs ($2.99-$3.00) to hold spoons or straws, gold and silver candles to cast a warm glow ($14.00-$17.99), and, of course, a little twiggy tree (Medium, $15.00; Large $20.00). They’ll keep the party going all night long.
Garland, Oh Joy for Target $4
Stoneware Mug with Stripped Handle, $5
Stoneware Pitcher with Gold Bottom, $25
All products pictured are from Target. Check stores for availability.