Today I’m starting my first of many “Thanksgiving Tips” rather than my weekly “Tuesday Tip.” With Thanksgiving just one week away, I thought I’d share some practical and some not so practical tips and information. Use them as you wish!
Let’s start with, what else, setting up a proper, self-serve bar. Granted most of us, me included, simply pull out bottles of wine and bottles of beer, but for those of you who care, there are guidelines for serving spirits with style. Even if you could care less about being fancy, setting up a proper bar will prevent you from having to stock it repeatedly, making your time more enjoyable! Keep in mind that, in most situations, it is customary for the host to prepare the first round of cocktails, after that, guests are on their own.
First off, pick your spot. Choose somewhere sturdy and big enough for several people to gather around. A central location is best, but you don’t want it to be where everyone gathers. The actual bar should be integral to the party, but not the center of attention.
Next, gather the essentials. Your goal, depending on budget and crowd, should be high-quality ingredients and meticulous care in preparation. You will want both red and white wines as well as dark and light beers. As for the “hard stuff,” standard basic liquors include vodka, bourbon, rum, whiskey, tequila, scotch, vermouth and gin. Equally important are mixers. Club soda, cola, diet cola, tonic water, ginger ale, lemon lime, orange juice, and cranberry juice are essential. You will also want to have a carafe or two of water as well as bottled water.
Once the ingredients are set, garnishes are next. Be sure to include an ice bucket nearby (or better yet, ice maker, as you never have too much ice!); a jigger or shot glass for measuring; a bottle opener; a simple-to-use cork screw (key word: simple!); and small bowls of lemons, limes, olives, and cherries. You should also have a small cutting board and knife nearby should additional fruits be needed. Provide a discreet towel for any minor spills and always keep a garbage bin handy but out-of-sight. Finally, a pretty or festive glass with stirrers and a basket or tray with cocktail napkins will complete the set up.
As for glassware, go all out! Have appropriate size glasses for white and red wines, steins or mugs for beer, high ball glasses, and a mix of other sizes including martini and margarita stems. You will generally stock as many glasses as there are guests. Disposable cups in various sizes are good to have on hand as well. Toby Keith would be proud of your red solo cups!
It’s that simple friends! If this seems like too much and you are able to staff a bartender, that is yet another option.
Finally, keep in mind that your home is the bar so you need to be responsible for those drinking in it and then driving away. It’s important to be a savvy host but even more important to be a smart one! Cheers!