We hate to add another thing to your Christmas to-do list, but in addition to pulling out your sparkly frocks and hanging the mistletoe, it’s also the most wonderful time of the year to get your bar cart in order. If you’re starting from scratch, don’t fret. Our fabulous stateside friends over at Birchbox US asked some of their favourite bartenders, sommeliers, and industry experts to help give six easy tips for keeping spirits bright.
Streamline Your Selection
It’s possible to get away with only having one type of alcohol on hand — and if that’s all you can handle, Eben Freeman, the Director of Beverage for AvroKO Hospitality Group, recommends cognac. “Cognac is classy. You can sip it straight after dinner or make a cocktail before dinner,” he says.
Bubbles Are Never a Bad Idea
It’s always good to have a few bottles of something sparkling on hand for last-minute festivities. Mitch Einhorn of Chicago’s Lush Wine and Spirits suggests grower champagnes, also known as “farmer fizz.” “Made by the growers of the grapes themselves rather than the big champagne houses, these champagnes offer better quality at slightly gentler prices than the Veuves and Moets,” he says. An affordable pick (around £10) is the Luis Pato Baga Bruto, a sparkling wine from Portugal.
Upgrade Your Party Cups
We’re fans of saving your stemware for more intimate affairs, but that doesn’t mean you need to go the plastic cup route. Master sommelier Laura Maniec prefers glasses that can accommodate wine and cocktails for larger get-togethers. Her genius tip: “Write guests’ name on them with a Sharpie and they can have them for the entire party.” Don’t worry, it will rinse right off in the dishwasher.
Invest In a Scene-Stealing Punch Bowl
Punch is an easy and cost-effective crowd pleaser, especially when you serve it in something beautiful. We’re obsessed with this vintage glass set from Etsy, but you can also repurpose a large serving bowl. As for a recipe, try this big-batch version of an Old Fashioned — it will warm your guests right up.
Coasters Are Always Classy
In addition to being a fun way to add a bit of flare to your holiday soiree, coasters are a practical way to ensure that your guests protect your tabletops and furniture surfaces. “Coasters can also help distinguish whose drink is whose,” says Einhorn. These beautiful gold ones from H&M. will make even the simplest cocktail feel fancy.
Ice, Ice, Baby
If you want to get creative with your ice, we’ve got a few ideas for how you can step up your cube game. But, “sometimes all a drink needs is a little ice to chill it down,” says Einhorn. Masa Urushido, head bartender at Saxon + Parole, advises investing in different types of ice trays. “Whether you’re looking to make ice chips or larger squares for classic cocktails, having a variety of trays on hand keeps you flexible.”
– Katie Mitsos