Drink Easy and
Mix Up Some Punch
Big batch cocktails are the smart host's secret weapon.
Ernest chrome bar cart, $199 by CB2
The holidays are all about good times. And let's get real for a sec—they're also about stress and all-day affairs that very likely involve family members with whom you may not see eye-to-eye when it comes to, say, politics. But good or bad, it all leads to booze, right? Of course, most casual drinkers don't keep a fully stocked bar year-round. As we head into the thick of party season, a small but smart bar setup is essential. Make sure you're stocked with all the bottles to ensure your thirsty houseguests are properly lubricated for a jolly evening.
This is an occasion to go beyond the everyday bottles. Breweries around the country are making some spectacular holiday-inspired brews. Like this citrusy and spruce-infused pale ale.
Pennsylvania Tuxedo, $10.99 for a four-pack by Dogfish Head
An easy drinking beverage for those who aren't beer lovers. This crisp cider also makes a great mixer for seasonal cocktails as well.
Cidre, $9.29 for a six-pack by Stella Artois
Sparkling wine will lose its effervescence if it's open too long. Plus, these mini bottles are just so damn fun for everyone.
Prosecco, $2.49 each by Martini & Rossi
Festive and decadent and, we suggest, non-alcoholic. It's probably best to leave the level of spiking up to your guests.
Organic eggnog, $6.79 by Straus Family Creamery
Ginger is a great holiday spice to add to cocktails and balances out stronger spirits. Plus it can easily enjoyed on its own over ice.
Ginger beer, $5.99 for a four-pack by Bundaberg
Citrus season is in full swing in the winter and grapefruit pairs particularly well with spirits like gin and tequila.
Cold-pressed grapefruit juice, $4.81 by Lakewood Organic
A great winter fruit that adds a tropical vacation vibe to any drink. There's a reason why it's on so many winter bar menus.
Organic pineapple juice, $7.83 by R.W. Knudsen
Spring for the small bottles so each drink is fresh and bubbly. We like Schweppes because of the velvety, microscopic bubbles.
Club soda, $4.75 by Schweppes
⋆ We didn't include regular wine on this list as it's been our experience that many guests will show up with a bottle, ensuring there will be plenty on hand.
You don't need a vast stretch of bottles littering the top of your bar. That will only overwhelm and confuse your guests. Or have people mixing crap they don't even plan to drink. Five or six key bottles will do the trick. Rum, whiskey, gin, tequila and maybe vodka. Sit those next to plenty of cups and a large bucket of ice. Be a gracious host and set out some garnishes like orange slices or peels, mint leaves, rosemary sprigs and pomegranate seeds.
Plan on two drinks per person for the first two hours, one drink per person for each additional hour, according to most entertaining experts.
Will drink beer (or cider)
Will use hard liquor
Will sip wine