Cook, waiter, entertainer—you’ve got a lot of roles to play as a host. One way to free up your time is by setting up a do-it-yourself (or DIY) bar. Lay out the spirits, mixers and utensils (including a jigger) and let your guests make their drinks. Your partygoers will have fun playing bartender, and it will free you up to boogie down.
Spirits and Sodas
Tequila, gin, vodka, whiskey and rum all can be mixed with soda to make crowd-pleasing cocktails. Generally speaking, lemon-lime soda pairs best with clear spirits, such as gin and vodka. Cola mixes well with brown spirits such as rum, whiskey and tequila. Ginger ale can go both ways—it’s good with bourbon, scotch, gin or vodka. Soda water, with no flavor whatsoever, can mellow the flavor of whisky and vodka. And tonic water, with the bitter taste of quinine, is best mixed with gin or vodka.
Orange juice, grapefruit juice and cranberry juice allow your guests to make all sorts of cocktails, especially vodka-based drinks. You may also want to offer lemonade, which mixes well with bourbon. How about apple cider? Set out a warm carafe of cider for your guests to mix with rum.
Sometimes you don’t need a mixer to make a great drink. Presentation counts with cocktails, and partygoers can still make a great drink with a spirit and garnishes. Set out the lemons, limes, oranges and maraschino cherries, and let your guests go crazy.
So you’re hanging out at home one night and the phone rings. An old friend is in the area and wants to swing by. He says, “How does fifteen minutes sound?” You say “No problem,” before panicking and going into hosting mode. Fortunately you’ve stocked up on a few things in case of an impromptu party.
No drinks are faster to serve than the ones you pour straight from a bottle. Keep a mix of beers in the refrigerator (like Guinness and Red Stripe for instance) and a few bottled drinks like hard lemonade. Prepared cocktails, such as Cosmopolitans or Margaritas are also good to have on hand.
You may want to keep mixers at home, especially if you have spirits like vodka or whiskey. Mixers are blends of everything you need to make specific drinks. Just add alcohol and you’re ready to serve. For instance, Stirrings mixers make it a breeze to make Martinis, Mojitos and more.
Take a look at what you’ve got in the fridge. Many cocktails can be made with just one spirit and one mixer (like juice or soda). Some of the most popular drinks are the easiest to make—like Gin and Tonic.
Remember, any cocktail is best enjoyed in moderation, and only by those of legal drinking age.