Less and less people are visiting pubs and bars in the evenings now (data source: me, I moonlight as a barmaid) due to the rising costs of alcohol and possibly the current weather situation (snow. I didn’t want to mention it but it’s relevant right now). Having friends round for food and drink is one of my favourite things to do, keeping social events in-house means a cheaper evening as well as not having to worry about getting home, for me anyway! However, a sticky coffee table or worktop is never a good look, so impressing guests with a well put-together mini-bar as seen on Madmen and anyone else who has kept their house 1950’s style has to be the way forward. It doesn’t have to be an expensive minesweep of the alcohol aisle in your supermarket though – so here are our tips on how to impress your guests before they have drunk too many of your homemade cocktails!
- Alcohol. Don’t waste money on random spirits that taste of the 1990’s and are going to end up being swigged out of the bottle come 2am. Stick to the basics of good quality Vodka (Cosmopolitans), Gin (Martinis), Rum (dark, white or spiced, or all 3!) and Tequila (Margarita). From these you have the basis for a LOT of cocktails, plus anyone who drinks shorts or shots will likely be drinking one of these. From here, you can build up your collection in the future based on which cocktails you want to serve, and which of your friends are holding onto their teenage tastebuds! (Taboo and lemonade anyone!)
- Mixers. Standard selection – fat cola, thin cola, lemonade and juices! But don’t forget to stock good quality tonic water for the ever-popular G&Ts (Fentimans won this taste test), and soda. If you want to really impress, you can get an old style soda syphon which is also handy for squirting at any overly loud guests!
- Garnishes. Often missed but can add that extra special touch to a drink! Obviously fresh lemon and lime slices, but different brands of gin will work well with different garnishes, so if you have a Hendricks drinker for example, make sure you have cucumber for their drink. Salt is required for the rims of cocktail glasses and tequila slammers; olives for a martini; ice as no-one likes a warm drink, and if you’re serving Babycham then you need maraschino cherries on a stick!
- Glasses. Highballs, martini, rocks…these are probably the main basis for your drinkers, and the aesthetics of a drink are always improved if they’re served in something a bit nicer than a chipped Father Christmas mug!
- Equipment. Nice cocktail shakers, strainers and ice-buckets can be found in lots of online shops and save you stirring your drink with teaspoons….Also worth investing in a nice cocktail book for ideas and inspiration, although there are also lots of apps you can download to help you with how much to add to what. If you do decide to have straws, try to get eco-friendly ones, such as these from eco-strawz.
- Storage. From the information above, you can see that you can add as much or as little as you want to your home bar, which obviously then will help you decide how large or small to go with your storage of it all. Which is where we come in! (I know, you were waiting for the IronFire link to this blog post!). Our industrial style console tables come in 21 sizes so are suitable for any space whether you are intending to stock only 2 gins, or a full range to rival any gin bar. And if you want to go full pelt, with wines, lagers, the lot, have a look at our racking. Newly developed, we can make multiple configurations for a commercial bar space (this isn’t a recommendation for you to start selling your cocktails to your neighbours – I’m pretty sure you need a licence for this) or a larger home bar.
- Nuts. No bar is complete without bowls of nuts, crisps or similar to soak up the alcohol slightly! I know this may be a bit of a wasted effort, but at least they provide a small amount of sustenance for the barperson!
Never again will your drinks evenings be full of flat cola and cocktails that fail to impress, enjoy, and don’t forget my invite!