Whether you’re serving cocktails or mocktails this holiday season—it never hurts to have everything you’ll need on hand to make them look (and taste) fantastic. We spoke with one of our favorite blogging duos, Husbands That Cook, about what they stock up on before the festivities begin.
Premixed or custom? Depending on the size of your party, you can decide to make one custom cocktail or mix individual drinks for your guests. Typically, if the guest list falls under six, they’ll mix up custom cocktails for each person.
Some standard supplies to have on hand: To start building a bar setup, you’ll want to have a shaker, a bar spoon, a jigger, different-sized ice molds, and a variety of glasses. If you’re starting from nothing, here are a few essentials that will cover most drink requests: a martini glass with a stem, a short wide glass, and something tall and thin like a highball glass. You can never go wrong with cute cocktail picks either!
Dazzle with the details: You might remember their clever Courtly Check cocktail. The secret behind their innovative design is sprinkled activated charcoal. Using a plastic lid, they created a checkered stencil—and you can do the same! Simply punch or cut any shape, letter or pattern into a plastic lid and sprinkle on a powder finish. In addition to activated charcoal, you can try matcha or cinnamon.
Have herbs on hand: Not only will fresh herbs add a gorgeous green flourish to drinks, they add scent (which is a huge component of taste) and flavor too. Some favorites? Rosemary, basil, thyme or lavender.
Berry beautiful: A showstopping holiday garnish? Coat cranberries in sugar and skewer them on a pretty cocktail pick or a spring of rosemary. They look like they have a fresh layer of snow or frost on them and would be pretty paired with a simple champagne or a more complex cocktail.
Opt for real as opposed to artificial flavor: You think it might be easier to pick up a premade sugary cocktail mixer, but adding your own fresh fruits and juices will create such a richer flavor. If you don’t have room in your house for a juicer, fear not! Those metal hand juicers are a fast and easy way to do it without taking up a ton of counter space. Or if you’re short on time, stores like Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods sell fresh juice you can use instead.
Skip maraschino for the real thing: Did you know you can buy jarred cherries instead of the bright red artificial version? They are a deep red, almost black color, offer up a truer cherry flavor, and would taste delicious mixed in an Old-Fashioned.
Make the ice look nice: Instead of water, you can freeze juice so it doesn’t dilute the drinks. Or for a fun decorative touch, freeze ice cubes with herbs or edible flowers inside. They’ll look lovely in a bin full of drinks or an ice bucket.
One of the most versatile mixers: Reed’s Ginger Beer. Its spicy ginger flavor allows it to mix with a variety of liquors. This brand is excellent quality too!
Don’t forget to rim your glass: While salt is a classic, get creative! You can use crushed graham crackers, peppermint, sugar or a spicy chili-lime salt. If you’re going to do a sweet rim, dip the edge of the glass into simple syrup. If you’re going more savory, rubbing the edge with citrus works too.
All images courtesy of Husbands That Cook.