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Let’s Get Boozy: Build Your Bar Like a Boss

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Jessica
08.25.14

You can’t pull out Malibu Rum and Southern Comfort at a party these days. People will judge you. (You aren’t 21 anymore, face it.) So what’s a booze-loving adult to do?

Build a Real Deal Holyfield bar to become a boss at making three classic drinks: the martini, the margarita and the Manhattan. With the right booze, the right tools and a few awesome cups, there’s no telling how good your life can get with these classic cocktails.

Building a bar can seem like a daunting and expensive task, but it doesn’t have to be! Here’s a breakdown of the basics. Bottoms up!

Start with Three Cocktails

If you go to the corner store with the intention of buying a “full bar,” you’re gonna spend a ton of money. Instead, start with what’s necessary for three class drinks. We think the classic martini, the margarita and the Manhattan are a great place to start. As you use your bar more frequently, you’ll figure out which cocktails you prefer so you can stock up intelligently in the future. For example, if it’s all martinis all the time for you, then maybe the Manhattan ingredients aren’t necessary next time you go to the store.

Liquor Shopping List

The Martini:

  • gin
  • dry vermouth
  • bitters (optional)

The Margarita:

  • tequila
  • triple sec

The Manhattan:

  • rye whiskey
  • sweet vermouth
  • Angostura bitters

Go Basic

It may be tempting to get fancy and buy that fun-looking bottle of apple gin, because won’t-you-use-it-in-so-many-fun-cocktails? Resist the urge! Even if you love a good appletini, skip the flavored stuff for now – the classic gin you pick up for the martini’ll do just fine. When you want to make something flavored, you can make your own syrups or infuse the liquor, instead.

Be Selfish

You may throw a big party every once in awhile. But realistically, the bar is going to be primarily used by you, your close friends and your lucky dates. Instead of filling it with liquor that may please the masses, pick spirits you like. So if you hate Hendricks, don’t buy Hendricks just to please the people.  

Cheap Tools are Fine

When you’re starting out, it can be tempting to buy brand name, expensive tools. The problem with that is that you don’t know what you’ll use on a regular basis. Instead, buy a cheap set to start. Over time, you can replace your favorite tools with more expensive options. Tip: If you really want to impress your guests, use big ice cubes. It’s the easiest way to make an average drink seem amazing! 

Tool Shopping List

The Martini:

  • shaker
  • strainer
  • stirrer (optional)
  • jigger

The Margarita:

  • small plate
  • pitcher
  • zester
  • jigger

The Manhattan:

Stock Up on Mixers

If you serve guests straight booze at a party, things could get wild. Or weird. Plus, most people like a mixed cocktail, not vodka-to-the-face. Before you invite anyone over, make sure to stock up on mixing favorites like ginger ale, soda water, tonic water and bitters. Tip: Always store your vermouth in the fridge. Otherwise, it will go bad and your cocktail will be pretty rough to drink.

Mixer Shopping List

The Martini:

  • olive juice or fresh lemon juice

The Margarita:

  • fresh lime juice
  • salt
  • lime
  • club soda
  • ice

The Manhattan:

  • Marasca cherries

Invest in Glassware

A cocktail isn’t complete until it’s in an awesome glass. We recommend having at least three glass types: One short, one tall and one fun. To prevent your glassware from chipping, breaking or just being ruined, follow these barware cleaning guidelines.

Glassware Shopping List

The Martini:

The Margarita:

The Manhattan:

  • rocks glass

Now that you have everything you need to make an awesome cocktail (or three), here are the recipes. Enjoy!

Classic Cocktail Recipes

When it comes to cocktails, stick to this rule of thumb: If it’s spirits-based, stir the drink. If there is citrus, sugar or egg whites, shake it!

The Martini:

  1. Pour the olive juice or fresh lemon juice, 2 ½ ounces gin and ½ ounce dry vermouth into a shaker filled with ice cubes.
  2. Stir the mixture for 30 seconds.
  3. Strain the chilled cocktail into a chilled cocktail glass.
  4. Add a dash of Angostura bitters if you’re into that. (This is an optional step.)
  5. Garnish your fancy cocktail with an olive or lemon twist.

The Margarita:

  1. Combine 1 tablespoon lime zest and 1 tablespoon salt on a small plate.
  2. Mix ½ cup lime juice, 1 cup club soda, ¾ cup tequila, and 6 tablespoons Triple Sec in a pitcher. We recommend stirring the mixture.
  3. Rub the rim of the margarita or rocks glass with a lime wedge and then dip the wet rim into the lime-salt.
  4. Fill the glasses with ice and fill the glass to the brim with your margarita.

The Manhattan:

  1. Fill the cocktail shaker with ice.
  2. Add 2 ounces of rye whiskey, 1 ounce of sweet vermouth and a dash of Angostura bitters to the shaker and stir well.
  3. Strain the drink into a martini glass and garnish with the Marasca cherry.

Cheers!

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