Decorating & Entertaining Ideas

Upgrade Your Bar

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Tools: Jigger, shaker, strainer, stirrer, citrus squeezer, muddler, channel knife (if you fancy a twist), bottle opener, wine corkscrew, and ice bucket and tongs.

Serveware: Highball and old-fashioned glasses, wineglasses or tumblers, champagne flutes or coupes, punch bowl, pitcher, decanter, serving tray, and wine bucket.

Booze: Vodka, gin, tequila, rum (both white and dark), bourbon, Scotch, whiskey, vermouth (both sweet and dry), champagne, St-Germain, Campari, orange liqueur (triple sec, Cointreau, curaçao), beer (light and dark), and a red and a white wine.

Mixers: Lemon, lime, orange, and grapefruit juice (fresh, please); different sodas (there’s always a rum-and-Coke guy in the house); tonic and soda water; simple syrup; pasteurized egg whites; and bitters (Angostura, Peychaud’s, and orange are the three to start with).

Garnishes: Fruit slices, berries, pomegranate seeds (they float!), herb sprigs, crushed ice and ice cubes, and sugar and kosher salt for rimming glasses.

Accessories: Swizzle sticks, straws (paper or sterling silver feel special), umbrellas, coasters, and cocktail napkins.

Required reading: Well, it’s not really required so much as strongly suggested, but a cocktail “cookbook”—a bartending bible like The Craft of the Cocktail or a lighthearted recipe roundup like the brand-new Illustrated Guide to Cocktailswill have you mixing, stirring, and shaking your way to cocktail gold in no time.

 

Cucumber Lemon Cooler

With temperatures rising we took a moment to cool down with lemonade, cucumber, and some chilled vodka, natch.

Light and refreshing, not too sweet, and with neither a feminine nor a masculine bent, this summer cocktail is our crowd-pleasing go-to. Aside from its appealing subtlety and thirst-quenching quality, we love that the crispness matches the freshness of summer salads and grilled dishes—just like a cold white wine or rosé. Add a fragrant note with aromatic herb sprigs, and let the summer sipping begin.

Serves 8

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups vodka, chilled
  • 2 cups lemonade, chilled
  • 1 English cucumber, ½ peeled and diced, and ½ sliced into rounds for garnish
  • 1 liter club soda
  • 1 lemon, sliced into rounds for garnish
  • Herb sprigs for garnish (mint, basil, rosemary, oregano, or other fresh green herbs of your choice)

Puree vodka, lemonade, and diced cucumber in a blender, then strain mixture into a large pitcher. Refrigerate until ready to use.

To serve, pour mixture into ice-filled glasses until ¾ full. Top off each with club soda and allow guests to customize cocktails with cucumber, lemon slices, and herb sprigs.

Tip: Tearing the leaves off herbs releases their oils and fragrance. Encourage guests to do this when garnishing their cocktails for a stronger herbal flavor.

 

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