1. No, the Cheap Stuff is not Even Good for Mixers.
And if your family and friends are anything like mine, who want to have a drink before they sit down for dinner, you can set the whole tone of the party with that first drink you serve and really make the night unforgettable.
If making Martinis, use Dolin Dry Vermouth, in my opinion it's still the best Dry Vermouth on the market. Buy a small bottle, and keep it in the fridge. For mixing Manhattans or any Manhattan variation, I still love Martini and Rossi, it's what we use here at Wingtip.
If you're making any cocktails that call for sparkling wine, buy something in the USD 20 range (EUR 16), anything less will create sub par cocktails.
When making any drinks that call for citrus, hand squeeze the juice, there is no substitute for the bright fresh flavor of fresh squeezed lemon or lime.
Buy ice molds to create that perfect cube that makes Old Fashioned look so amazing in the best cocktail bars (ice spheres are a thing, too). When shaking or stirring a drink, feel free to use the ice that you make in a standard ice tray. They are large cubes that look and sound sexy when mixing, just make sure to make plenty of it.
Running out of ice mid-party is no minor faux pas. In the bartending world, it’s roughly an equivalent of forgetting about your wedding anniversary.
3. Dress Your Cocktails for the Party – Get Them Sexy Glassware
In the US, Crystal CIassics has a variety of amazing cocktail and other glasses to choose from and if you're looking where to buy vintage glasses, search through Etsy.
One of my favorite activities when driving anywhere is stopping at roadside antique stores and browsing their glassware sections. You can find amazing gems for not very much. Also if you are in the market for a punch bowl, there is no better place to find them.
4. There’s no Craftsman Without Proper Tools
As far as the spoon goes, my favourite shop is Cocktail Kingdom. They have a large selection of beautiful spoons, jiggers, shakers, and strainers you can purchase for home use.
When it comes to cocktail shakers, avoid the three piece cobblers and get a simple two piece Boston shaker set.
I prefer the tin on tin for every day use at the bar, it’s lighter and easier to work with than the glass and tin combo. Also you have no fear of breaking the glass.
5. Keep it Simple and Do as the Cocktail Recipe Commands
There are literally hundreds of drinks out there that only take two or three steps to produce.
The simple elegance of a Saratoga cocktail will wow the stagiest of Manhattan fans. A French 75 perfectly executed will turn any Vodka drinker into a Gin lover instantly.
But none of this can be achieved, unless you follow the cocktail recipe.
Don't be afraid to practice pre party as well. Practice makes perfect after all. Remember to experiment with different base spirits to find your favorite to serve. If a cocktail recipe calls for Gin, make sure to try it with multiple Gins so you can serve what you think is the best version. This will also give you a story to tell and build your cred when you can tell your guest why certain Gins worked better than others.
Enjoy your party!