Five Rules: Party Bar Basics

Build a perfect warm weather party bar in five simple steps.

Warm weather brings cookouts, pool parties and all sorts of fun.  Informal get-togethers make this time of year grand, but many of these shindigs happen at less than a moment’s notice. 

All more reason to stock up on burgers, buns and sun block – and a great go-to bar to get any party started.

Believe it or not, a variety of sunny-time faves from ‘ritas to daiquiris can be whipped up from a just few choice ingredients.  Mix in a houseful of friends and you’re ready to roll! 

Five Rules:  Party Bar Basics

1.  The good stuff

For warm weather entertaining, stock vodka, gin, tequila and rum.  (Leave the whiskey, brandy and such for chilly months.)  Choose unflavored vodkas for your basic bar, like Tito’s from Texas.  In the gin department, you're good to go with Bombay Sapphire or Tanqueray.  Tequila is very much a matter of taste, but if you go with a premium brand, your head will thank you.  And last but not least, a light rum such as Bacardi will be more versatile than dark or spiced.

2.  The sweet stuff

Let your taste take over when it comes to liqueurs.  Like raspberry?  Chambord is great melted down over a frozen margarita, and it can also be used in many cocktails.  Classic orange-flavored Cointreau is also friend to the margarita and can add a little zing to a screwdriver.  Other possibilities include Kahlua, Midori and Triple Sec.  Pick two from this category for your basic bar.

3.  Mix it up
Stock club soda, tonic, orange juice, cranberry juice and cola for mixing.  Also whip up a few cups of simple syrup by combining equal parts white sugar and water and warming the mixture until the sugar has fully dissolved.

4.  Make it special
Fresh fruit, frozen fruit and ice cream can all come in handy, depending on the types of drinks you like.  Many of these items are things we all keep on hand, so you might already be good to go for a specialty concoction.  Finally, limes are an inexpensive must-have ingredient and garnish.

5.  Basic recipes
Below are four recipes to get you going.  Learn these, then let creativity be your guide.

Classic Martini
2 oz. gin
½ oz. dry vermouth
Stir the gin and vermouth in a mixing glass with ice.  Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Cape Codder
2 oz. vodka
4-5 oz. cranberry juice
½ oz. lime juice
Shake liquid ingredients with ice and strain into an ice-filled glass.

Original Margarita
1 ½ oz. premium tequila
1 ½ oz. lime juice

1 oz. Cointreau
Shake ingredients with ice and strain into an ice-filled glass.

Classic Daiquiri
2 oz. light rum

1 oz. lime juice
½ oz. simple syrup
Shake ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Recipes adapted from The Ultimate Bar Book by Mittie Hellmich.

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