If your celebration includes cocktails, we have a few simple helpers for equipping your bar and mastering the fine art of mixing:
Bar Knife »
Usually used to create lemon or lime wedges. (Did you know the ideal wedge is a 1/8 section? Just cut the fruit in half length-wise then cut each half into fourths. So easy. But we digress.) Other bar knife uses: Peeling fruit for garnishes, opening foil seals on wine bottles, or slicing and serving cheese.
Bottle Opener »
We know, right? But a good opener also features an angled, pointed end for puncturing juice cans, should you ever encounter one without a pull-tab.
Hawthorne Strainer »
Keeps ice cubes in the shaker and out of your drink. To use, set the strainer spring-side down over the shaker's base. The prongs along the edge will help you hold the strainer in place with one hand as you pour.
While drinks served over ice can usually be mixed right in the glass, a shaker is key to mixing arctic-cold drinks that are served straight up.
A three-piece shaker will have a base, a strainer/top and a cap. To use, fill the base 2/3 full with ice cubes, add ingredients, then cover with strainer/top and cap. Holding both ends securely, shake. Remove the cap and, keeping a grip on both top and base, pour.
Use fresh ice for every new drink. Use ice cubes, since crushed ice will clog the strainer.
Don't use a shaker for drinks that contain a carbonated mixer—these need only a stir with a swizzle stick.
The larger end of this hourglass-shaped measurer holds 1.5 fl. oz. of liquid, which is—yep—a jigger shot. The smaller end measures 1 fl. oz.—or what some people call a pony.
And a note about measuring: It's not amateurish. It's not miserly. Using a jigger means you're a serious mixologist whose concoctions will be perfect every time. Some people may eyeball or guesstimate their measurements, and that's fine. But we figure if you spend lot of effort on your get-together, why leave the drinks to chance?
Bar Towel - Because drip happens.
Spoon - For stirring or grabbing cherries and olives out of jars.
Ice Bucket - Keeps ice cubes close without melting.
Tray, Napkins & Coasters - To serve and protect. After all, your tabletops are just fine without drips and rings.
Bowls - For garnishes.
Rug - Things can get sticky. A small rug near your serving cart or bar goes a long way toward protecting the floor.
Secret agents may prefer a shaken martini, but cocktail experts say only vodka martinis should be made this way. Gin martinis are best stirred, so ice cubes won't break down the delicate flavors. Our opinion? We think it's up to you. Sort of a matter for your taste buds only.
The ultimate celebratory drink is Champagne. It's also easy to serve:
A Champagne bucket—filled half-way with ice and some cold water—will chill Champagne to the perfect temp (about 45°F) in only 30 minutes.
Never place Champagne in the freezer. It can explode, an event commonly referred to as “a tragedy.”
You actually don’t want to “pop” the cork (that would release too much gas, which means fewer bubbles) but rather, gradually nudge the cork up so it hiccups out.
Most Champagne is Brut, which is dry. If you like it sweet, choose Champagne labeled Sec.
One bottle = 6-8 servings; a magnum = 2 bottles; jeroboam = 4 bottles and a hearty congratulations.