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Everything you need to throw a successful cocktail party.

Stocking Up

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As the holiday season begins, check the bar, the wine cellar, the pantry and the fridge to be sure you're ready for spur-of-the-moment parties or drop-in guests. And of course, for more formal gatherings, you'll want to be especially certain that you have enough alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages to make your guests feel pampered. It's better to err on the side of excess, since most unopened beverages can be stored for later consumption. For formal parties of more than 10 people, consider hiring a professional bartender, who will not only mix and serve drinks, but who can help keep used glassware moving into the kitchen for cleanup. An added plus: you'll have more time to spend with your guests if someone else is mixing the martinis. For casual gatherings of up to 30 guests, it's perfectly fine to set out a do-it-yourself bar on a large table. In order for guests to serve themselves, make sure the bar is well-organized — the liquors grouped together, the mixers together, etc. — and that everything is in sight and easily accessible. What about food? If the party is early — say, from 5 to 8 p.m. — the indication is that guests will have a quick drink and a bite to eat and be on their way to dinner, to the theater or home. For this kind of party, offer a variety of hot and cold hors d'oeuvres, plus small bowls of mixed nuts or toasted almonds at the bar. If the party is later — from 7 to 9 p.m. for example — be sure to have substantial fare that can be hearty enough to pass as a meal. You might also include a selection of sweets and a coffee bar. And no matter what kind of party you have, as host or hostess, make sure your guests can get home safely. Party on! The Basic Bar:
Vodka
Gin
Bourbon
Scotch
Rum
Dry white vermouth
Tequila
Bitters
Triple sec
Lillet, Dubonnet, Campari or other aperitif
Red wine
White wine
Champagne or sparkling wine
Beer Condiments:
Lemon wedges and twists
Lime wedges and twists
Orange wedges and twists
Prepared horseradish
Tabasco sauce
Worcestershire sauce
Kosher salt (for Margaritas)
Celery seed and black pepper
(for Bloody Marys)
Cocktail olives
Cocktail onions Mixers:Club soda
Tonic water
Mineral water
Cola
Diet cola
Ginger ale
Tomato juice
Orange juice
Rose's lime juice Bar Tools:
Corkscrew
Bottle opener
Jiggers
Blender
Ice tongs
Ice scoop
Pitchers
Dish towels
Cutting board and knives for fruit
Cocktail napkins
Ice bucket
Ice cracker
Cocktail stirrers
Cocktail shaker
Cocktail strainer Glassware:
Highballs
Rocks
Flutes
All-purpose wine glasses
Martini glasses
Margarita glasses
Beer

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