Wine & Spirits
Jul 18, 2008

Wine & spirits: Holiday bar prep

By: Konrad Ejbich

Wine & spirits: Holiday bar prep Author: Style At Home

Wine & Spirits
Jul 18, 2008

Wine & spirits: Holiday bar prep

By: Konrad Ejbich

There are so many ways to get into the holiday spirit, and having a thoughtfully stocked bar when you're entertaining is one of them. A considerate host should have a significant variety of products to offer, aside from his or her personal favourites. This is a great time of year to add to the festive atmosphere at home and to treat your guests and yourself to a special bottle -- one you might not have year-round, perhaps a rare single malt scotch, an XO cognac or a specialty liqueur.

Don't forget about friends who don't want alcohol. If you have neither the time nor the energy to mix a special punch or make mocktails, offer something a little more celebratory than pop or juice, like a peach or pear nectar with soda, or a premium thirst quencher like San Pellegrino's Limonata. Taking stock of what you have on hand and then replenishing any needed supplies will serve you on into the new year, when cash is scarcer and your appetite for shopping has dwindled away.

The home bar
These are basic guidelines to get you started. Decide how much of each type of liquor you require based on your own and your friends' personal tastes. For less popular items, look for smaller bottles. When buying mixers and making ice, opt for twice the amount you think you need.

Vodka: Avoid the cheapies and the superpremium brands

Rum: Go for the gold

Gin: Plymouth for martinis, Bombay Sapphire for Collins

Canadian whisky: Our superpremiums are very affordable

Scotch whisky: Blended for mixing, single malt for sipping neat

Bourbon & Irish whiskey: Small bottles should do

Tequila: White for mixing or shots, gold for sipping

Brandy: VS for mixing, VSOP for sipping

Liqueur: Amaretto, coffee, Irish cream, orange or sambuca

Vermouth: Noilly Prat for martinis, Cinzano Rosso for manhattans

Beer: Ale/lager, domestic/imported, regular/light

Red & white wines: Several bottles (no cheap boxes or jugs)

Sparkling wine: Ideally, champagne

Port: Ruby or late-bottled vintage

Sherry: Dry for aperitifs, cream for post-prandials

Mixes: Cola; ginger ale; lemon-lime; tonic; club soda; orange, tomato, pineapple, cranberry and Clamato juices

Garnishes: Sugar; salt and pepper for rimming; olives and cocktail onions; cherries; orange, lemon and lime slices or wedges; Worcestershire sauce; Angostura bitters; Tabasco; celery sticks

Tools: Bottle and can opener; shot glass; ice bucket and tongs; cutting board and knife; mixing and measuring spoons; blender; shaker/mixing pitcher; strainer; straws; napkins; glassware; glass charms to identify glasses; wastebasket

Opening play
It's nice to have a cocktail ready just as guests arrive, but consider how easy it is to get hammered on an empty stomach. Have snacks available as soon as that first drink appears. And don't forget those designated drivers.

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Wine & spirits: Holiday bar prep