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How to Stock Your Bar

A well-stocked bar (liquor, mixers, garnishes, glasses and tools) not only helps you host impromptu cocktails, but a proper setup adds a stylish vibe to your place. Read on for the basics plus designer touches that’ll definitely raise your bar.

Photo: Mark Lund / The Nest

Liquor

Gin: refreshing and great for summer drinks.
Aperitifs: Bitter cocktails, served before dinner; Mix with soda and garnish with citrus.
Carafe: Whip up a batch of your favorite mixed drink five minutes before the party starts.
Tequila: Go upscale, and it’s meant for sipping not shooting.
Bourbon: A member of the whiskey family with a great smoky flavor.
Rum: From light to spiced, works well in Pina Coladas to uber trendy mojitos.
Vodka: The liquor cabinet chameleon, its subtle flavor makes it a multi talented mixer.
Jars: Trash the ugly containers your garnishes come in and use cute ones instead.

Wine: Have fun sampling several different kinds under $10 -- not all in one night -- then pick your two favorites and serve them as your house wines.
[ ] White wine
[ ] Red wine

Sippin' Whiskey: This spirit has always been a hit with professional drinkers, but after years of being eclipsed by vodka, it's coming back into vogue. Single-malt scotches and small-batch bourbons (both are types of whiskey) are particularly desirable.
[ ] Single-malt scotch (e.g., The Glenlivet 12 Year Old)
[ ] Irish whiskey (e.g., Black Bush)
[ ] Bourbon (e.g., Wild Turkey Rare Breed)

Mixers & Garnishes

Juice: See? Drinking is healthy.
[ ] Cranberry
[ ] Orange
[ ] Tomato

Soda: Doubles as tasty drink accent and refreshment for designated drivers.
[ ] Cola
[ ] Lemon-lime
[ ] Ginger ale
[ ] Tonic
[ ] Seltzer

Maraschino Cherries: Get 'em with stems, since they're easier to pluck out of a glass. Plus, tying knots in them with your tongue is still one of the all-time great bar tricks.
[ ] Maraschino cherries

Olives: No martini is complete without them (unless it's a Gibson, in which case you'll need a pearl onion).
[ ] Green pitted olives

Lemons and Limes: Slice them up beforehand to save time when company arrives.
[ ] Lemons
[ ] Limes

Exotic additions: Feeling tropical? Feeling crazy? Then you probably have malaria. Still, you can't ignore your guests, who may be in the mood for a fruity island treat or an oddball drink that requires an unusual ingredient. Luckily, the ones here can be found in any supermarket or liquor store. Some ingredients should be fresh -- impress guests by pulling mint straight off a plant -- while others can be bought well in advance.
[ ] Cream
[ ] Coconut milk
[ ] Grenadine
[ ] Tabasco and Worcestershire sauce
[ ] Angostura bitters
[ ] Coarse salt and granulated sugar
[ ] Pineapple juice
[ ] Mint
[ ] Sour mix

Accessories

Recipe Book: The Craft of the Cocktail by master mixologist Dale DeGroff provides 500 illustrated recipes as well as cocktail lore that, unlike a great martini, is never dry.
[ ] The Craft of the Cocktail

Ice Bucket and Tongs: A bucket with a lid and a liner keeps ice colder longer, and tongs keep grubby mitts where they belong.
[ ] Ice bucket
[ ] Tongs

Cocktail Shaker: Buy a Boston shaker -- a glass tumbler paired with a metal tumbler -- along with a Hawthorne strainer (the one with the coiled edge) instead of the more popular all-metal shaker. The setup is more versatile, gets colder faster, and makes you instantly look like a pro.
[ ] Boston cocktail shaker
[ ] Hawthorne strainer

Glasses: Remember, people who drink tend to drop things, so there's no need to spend a lot of money.
[ ] Highball
[ ] Lowball
[ ] Martini
[ ] White wine
[ ] Shot

Napkins: You don't want to find rings on your coffee table or olive pits in your plants.
[ ] Cocktail napkins

Bar Tools: Find a good-looking set that contains everything you need. Then display it for people to look at in slack-jawed awe.
[ ] Jiggers
[ ] Multipurpose opener
[ ] Corkscrew
[ ] Bar spoons
[ ] Wood muddler (for crushing herbs, sugar, etc. -- mojito, anyone?)

-- The Nest Editors

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