How you entertain guests is an extension of your personal style. Hosting is also a fun skill to develop. You want to make an impression, but it doesn’t need to be over the top. Before you embark on a lavish dinner party, we suggest warming up by learning 3 go-to cocktails.
Instead of asking, “can I get you a beer?” try asking, “what’s are you drinking?”. You’ll feel more confident because a cocktail is something you physically make that’s tailored for a specific guest. It’s impressive to watch, fun to create, and, of course, delicious if done right.
The tools you’ll need to make a great cocktail:
First, let’s talk equipment. Cocktails are more involved than cracking open a beer, but not necessarily more expensive. You just need the proper bar tools to make them well.
Look for barware that matches the vibe of your apartment or house. You should pick up all the necessary tools and practice (no problem there!) using them. At a minimum, a good barware set should have the following items:
- Cocktail Shaker
If you’re just starting off, we recommend choosing a complete barware set rather than assembling one from individual pieces. Our current favorite is the Miko 6-Piece Hammered Steel Bar Set. It’s got everything you need to mix up a great cocktail and the premium textured steel matches almost any home décor.
Now that you’ve got the tools to make a great cocktail, let’s explore the key cocktail ingredients.
The starter cocktail checklist
For the man who enjoys entertaining (and wants to impress a date, colleague, or family), a properly stocked home bar is a must. We’ll discuss this in detail in a later post, but if you’re just starting out, here’s the short list of what you’ll need:
- Gin – the base for many popular cocktails. Try London Dry.
- Vodka – possibly the perfect mixing liquor. Grey Goose is a safe choice.
- Bourbon Whiskey – another classic spirit. Wild Turkey works just fine.
(We gave recommendations but make sure you pick brands that you enjoy drinking)
Mixers & Garnishes
- Tonic water
Sodas (Club, Sprite, Cola, Ginger ale)
Juices (Orange, Cranberry, Tomato, Pineapple)
Fruit (Lemons, Limes, Oranges, Maraschino Cherries)
Herbs (Mint, Rosemary, Horseradish)
Bitters (Angostura or Peychaud’s)
No need to stock up all at once. Build your home bar a piece at a time with spirits, mixers, and equipment that matches your style. It will become very respectable in short order, and you’ll feel a sense of pride saying, “sure, I can make that for you.” For added flair, you can put your spirits in stylish glass decanters.
Now for the recipes. Here are 3 classic cocktails that every man should have in his mixologist’s repertoire.
The Old Fashioned
This is a bourbon-based cocktail. It uses a short round glass, sometimes called an Old Fashioned glass, after the drink itself.
- Put 1 sugar cube in glass
- Add 2-3 dashes of Angostura bitters
- Add 1 splash of soda water
- Muddle (smash) until sugar is dissolved
- Fill glass with ice cubes
- Add whiskey to the top of the glass, stir
- Garnish with an orange slice and maraschino cherry
The most argued about cocktail in the history of drinking, and one that is synonymous with nightlife and cocktails in general. Here’s the official recipe from the International Bartender’s Association (though you’ll no doubt have a variation of your own).
- 4 parts Gin
- 1 part dry vermouth
Pour all ingredients into mixing glass over ice and stir well. Strain into chilled cocktail glass. Squeeze lemon peel over the drink, discard. Garnish with one green olive.
Another whiskey-based cocktail. Where the Martini is gin and dry vermouth, the Manhattanis whiskey and sweet vermouth. And don’t forget the bitters!
- 3 parts Canadian or Rye Whiskey
- 1 part sweet (red) vermouth
- 1 dash bitters
Add ingredients to cocktail shaker filled with ice. Stir until very cold (stirring is very important to help the ice melt to water it down a bit and make it more palatable). Pour into cocktail glass and garnish with a maraschino cherry.
And there it is. You should feel a well-deserved sense of pride taking ownership of your hospitality by learning to make these classic cocktails!
What’s your go-to cocktail when entertaining guests? Let us know in the comments and your recipe might be featured on an upcoming blog!