to Boost your Party
Every house should have a signature drink — one that reflects your personal style and comes out perfectly every time. With master mixologists rising to star status in the culinary world, there are experts dedicated to helping you perfect great cocktails with a sure hand. Jonny Raglin of Comstock Saloon in San Francisco partners with Pottery Barn to shake up some favorites in your well–equipped home bar. Each of Jonny's drink recipes celebrates a classic cocktail that was created in one of America's great cities. Map it, mix it, taste it and have fun discovering your special house drink. That's a great party in itself.
Depending on how many guests you're inviting, you can mix a drink or two at a time, or you can make large batches and serve them in drink dispensers.
In either case, you'll want to have your mise en place prepped in advance. Just before your party begins, wash herbs and place in a glass as you would for flowers. This way, you can pluck fresh leaves right from the stem. Slice any fruit or vegetable garnishes and place in separate finger bowls with a few ice cubes to maintain freshness. For anything that browns, like apple, wait till you're ready to serve before slicing – or sprinkle a little fresh lemon juice over the slices if they need to last an hour or two.
Have plenty of bar towels on hand. Reaching for linen rather than a paper towel to wipe up a spill elevates the look and feel of your presentation, which is a significant part of the experience of enjoying well–crafted cocktails. Have a couple stacks of freshly washed, neatly folded bar towels right next to your prep area for anyone who wants to try their hand at tending bar.
If you're prepping large batches, make sure all the ingredients — including spirits, juices and garnishes — are cold prior to mixing. This will minimize dilution as the temperature rises. You can even freeze any fruit garnishes in advance to keep your concoctions cold. Then, be sure to place your drink dispensers on stands for easy pouring and in a shady spot to keep everything cool.
If guests are helping themselves, make the presentation very clear. Hand–stamped cardstock tied to lids label each drink. Print ingredients on the reverse in case anyone has questions about the concoction. Set plenty of appropriate glassware right next to the dispenser, using trays to clarify which glass and garnish goes with which cocktail. Monogramming is a nice way to create a unified look between several varieties of glassware.
Reusable straws are a fun accompaniment for summer punches. Place a dozen in a Mason Jar Mug so guests can choose one if they wish.
Every home bar should have a variety of glassware. Start with the standards: a great set of Double Old–Fashioneds, Classic Highballs, Martini Glasses and Margarita Glasses. But, because we believe that choosing the right glassware is equal parts tradition and creativity, never let the lack of a specific glass keep you from making a cocktail. Likewise, never assume that just because you have the traditional glass used for a particular drink you have to use it. You can always get creative, as long as the glass you choose is generally appropriate for the drink. Long stems let you hold a chilled drink without warming it; sturdy glasses stand up to muddling.
For special occasions, Schott Zwiesel Glassware — from stemware to barware — is ideal because it offers the brilliance of crystal with the ease of being dishwasher–safe and break resistant. And for creative mixes, every home bar should have a few unique glasses that are as beautiful as they are unique. Recycled glassware has the rustic look you'd find at a tropical cabana. And, with intricate etching, goblets can offer a vintage presentation to classic cocktails with a contemporary twist, paying homage to their origin.
Ultimately, the glasses you choose should be those you feel proud to display prominently in your bar, and those whose character and form express your individual style.
Ice Scoop — With a simple, classic design, an ice scoop both scoops and strains what's arguably the most important ingredient of any artisan cocktail — ice.
Muddler — By acting as a short pestle, a carved–wood muddler crushes fruits, herbs, sugar and ice right in the glass.
Bar knife — A bar knife slices garnishes on the spot for ultimate freshness. A serrated tip allows you to pick up and transfer garnish to glass.
Jigger — Unless you've mastered the art of the free pour, a jigger helps you measure the perfect shot every time, which is essential once you've found the ideal proportions of your signature cocktail.
Bottle opener — For a simple tool like this, which is an obvious must–have in every bar, a little style goes a long way. A bottle opener can bring vintage charm to an ever–useful everyday object.
Hand juicer — Squeeze citrus juice, minus the seeds. A hand juicer allows you to use the freshest juices in small quantities — perfect for the home bar.
Stirrer — Use a stirrer to combine ingredients evenly without bruising fruit or herbs — and without any splashing.
Zester — Cut thin strips of citrus rind for maximum zing. A burst of citrus oil will accompany each freshly cut twist, imbuing the drink with fresh flavor and aroma.
Strainer — A strainer lets you shake or stir, then strain away ice and herbs.
Corkscrew — Learn to open bottles like a pro. Whether you're opening a simple table wine or a locally bottled raspberry shrub to mix in one of your signature cocktails, it's likely that you'll need a simple corkscrew within reach.