When we think of hosting we usually think of food and ladies preparing and serving it, but there’s another hosting duty that’s much more manly and equally important; tending bar. Regardless of the type of event you’re hosting, your guests will need drinks. Wouldn’t you rather serve them with class than let them raid your fridge?
Tools of the Trade
Not surprisingly, there are some tools you need to tend bar.
The shaker is a canister in which you put ice and the drinks ingredients to mix them. There are two common types of shakers; the classic martini shaker and the Boston shaker. The martini shaker is all metal with a tight fitting lid and built in strainer. The Boston shaker is made up of two cups, one metal and one glass, and does not have a built in strainer.
A jigger is a bartender’s measuring cup. It’s typically two small metal cups, joined at their respective bottoms giving an hourglass look. Some also have a metal handle but that would be pretty superfluous.
This is your other mixing option and it’s exactly what it sounds like, a spoon you use at the bar. It has a long handle and a small bowl, so don’t try to use an ordinary teaspoon, you’ll just frustrate yourself.
A muddler is essentially a stick you can use to crush things. It usually has a handle on one end and is flat or serrated on the other.
An ice bucket is an insulated bucket for storing ice, and you’ll need a lot of it when you’re tending bar. Just make sure the only ice you serve a drink over is clear and cube shaped.
Every drink is properly served in a certain type of glass so you want to have all the right ones on hand. It’s best to have a large matched set so you don’t hand your guests a hodgepodge of different designs.
You’ll want to have a corkscrew and bottle opener, mostly to open the other drinks you’re serving.
Things You Likely Have Around The House
Some drinks are mixed in a blender so you may want to have one on hand. You’ll definitely want to have a towel handy to help clean up.
Many drink recipes call for a garnish that you’ll have to make yourself. For that you’ll need a citrus stripper, to cut narrow strips of citrus peel, and a knife and cutting board, to cut fruit.
The Bar Itself
As usual, your workspace is of crucial importance. At a minimum you need ample counter or table space but the best is a dedicated bar with storage for all your ingredients and tools, a sink, and plenty of character in the midst of your entertaining space.
Setting the Menu
Just like the food, your drink options need to be considered in advance. The goal is to make sure every guest has at least one desirable option and you’re serving appropriate drinks for the occasion. If you’re hosting a Super Bowl party, you should probably skip the martinis and serve craft beers and whiskeys. On the other hand, if you’re hosting a black tie cocktail party, you’ll want to skip the beers and serve cocktails and wines.
Something many people forget is to have options for guests who have somehow limited options. At the very least have water available and consider getting some high quality juices and sodas.
Being the Bartender
One would think tending bar would isolate you but nothing could be further from the truth. The bartender is virtually guaranteed to speak to everyone at the party several times. If you’d rather not stand behind the bar during the inevitable lulls you can mingle, so long as that doesn’t mean people have to get their own drinks.