Home & Garden

Stock your bar in advance for the festivities ahead

Guests will be knocking on your door through the end of the year, jazzed to enjoy some good cheer. Make your parties merrier by stocking your cocktail bar in advance. You’ll be ready to serve your guests in style. Better still, you’ll have more time to spend decorating and creating delicious hors d’oeuvres, dips and other treats.

The basics

Every home bar needs some standard fare, including vodka, gin, tequila, scotch, bourbon and rum. You can create a myriad of cocktails from this list alone. To round out your selections, be sure to stock red and white wine, sparkling wine and beer. For after-dinner lounging by the fire, consider a sherry or port wine.


You can host an elegant holiday party without investing in a variety of specialty glasses. A good all-purpose wine glass is fine for either red or white wine, although you truly do need a coupe or flute for champagne. In your bar set lineup, include a beer and liqueur glass, an old fashioned glass for scotch or bourbon drinkers or those who want rum and cola.


You can mix drinks individually for your guests or put together some simple drinks. Standard tools include a cocktail shaker, long stirring spoon, waiter’s corkscrew, ice bucket, mixing pitcher, tongs, jiggers, cocktail picks and stirrers. Consider using large, square ice cube molds. Having a single large cube ready for your scotch or bourbon drinkers is a nice touch. Don’t forget nice cocktail napkins.

Garnishes and mixers

Before guests arrive, fill a small divided dish with lemon and lime peels and wedges, olives and maraschino cherries. Stock a couple of mixers, too, like bitters, club soda, tonic water, ginger ale and cola. With this combination, you should be able to make enough drink combinations to satisfy almost any guest.

To crank up the fun factor, try crafting a batch of specialty cocktails just for the party. To make things truly easy, opt for punch and serve it in coupe glasses. Punch can be made ahead and serving is a snap, as you can add sparkling wine at the last moment.

Try a unique garnish, such as stem of rosemary, or a wedge of lime with cranberries on a toothpick. Your guests will relish such special touches.