“Would you like something to drink?”
A drink – hot or cold – is the first thing most guests are offered after entering a home or restaurant. And few things make a host cringe more than having nothing to offer. Save yourself the embarrassment and bask in the pride that comes with always being prepared. How? By following these five simple steps to setting up a summer bar station.
1. Stock up on basic ingredients
Buying beverages in bulk can be quite expensive. Fortunately, you don’t have to have a fully stocked bar to please your guests. All you need is the best of the basics – starting with YOUR favourite LiquorShop brands.
After stocking up on those, look for the beverages your loved ones would enjoy. You can either keep it simple with beer and wine or try making summer cocktails and purchase a few spirits too. Most popular mixed drinks contain one of these:
• Triple Sec
Don’t forget about the designated drivers and non-drinkers! A number of non-alcoholic beverages actually double as chasers for stronger liquor, including fruit juice, fizzy drinks, soda water and ginger beer.
2. Impress with a signature cocktail
Looking at the list above, it’s clear that cocktail ingredients can quickly consume a large chunk of your budget. So instead of trying to make them all, why not master a signature cocktail recipe you can use all season?
3. Get all the essential glassware
The importance of glassware cannot be ignored. Specific drinks are simply best served and enjoyed in a glass designed to showcase their aroma or bring out their flavour. Depending on what you like, treat guests and yourself to:
• Highballs – tall glasses ideal for cold drinks, from sodas to ciders.
• Tumblers – short, fat glasses for whisky lovers and drinks mixed, not shaken.
• Cocktail glasses – stemmed glasses with flat round bowls to hold cocktails.
• Champagne flutes – thin, stemmed glasses for sparkling wine.
• Wine glasses – deep, round, stemmed glasses, with a wider lip for red wine.
4. Invest in a few basic bar tools
You also can make pouring drinks and mixing cocktails a lot easier with just six basic bar tools:
1. A corkscrew – to open wine (or take advantage of screw caps).
2. A bottle opener – to open beer bottles and ciders.
3. A jigger – to measure shots of spirits, fruit juice or syrups.
4. A paring knife – for cutting garnishes and fresh fruit and veg for cocktails.
5. A cocktail shaker – for mixing all your cocktail ingredients and ice together. Tip: Shake until condensation appears on the outside of the shaker.
6. A muddler – a long-handled pestle to ground or mash ingredients, releasing more of their flavours.
There are also some tools of the trade unrelated to actual drink making. In summer, the most important of these is a fridge or a bucket filled with ice and ice water to keep all cans and bottles chilled.
Beyond that, drink stations need:
• Paper towels
• Bar or dish towels
• Recycling bins
5. Give garnishes a try
The most common drinks garnishes are lemons and limes, sugar and salt, seasonal fruits, fresh herbs, and cocktail olives. These perform two functions: decorate your glass and add to your sensory experience.
How they’re used to garnish your drinks is up to you. Famous methods call for a slice or wedge of fruit, a twist of citrus rind, skewered olives and fresh herbs pressed by a muddler or hand to release even more flavour and aroma.
However you set up your summer drinks station, remember that the best bars allow for self-service. It’s quicker and leaves you free to enjoy your own party.