Hosting parties on a budget can be quite a challenge. And when it comes time to stock the bar, it’s always the same problem at the store: What to buy, how much to buy, and what can you make with it that will be to the liking of every one? Most people will buy the basics: a handle of vodka, a handle of rum, and perhaps whiskey or bourbon. Some OJ, cranberry, coke, diet coke, sprite, tonic, etc. Oh, and don’t forget the limes, maybe lemons, napkins, cups, ice, and the list goes on. While you’ve offered your guests a respectable basic bar to mix their own drinks, you’ve also spent quite a lot of money.
Being the bartender in my circle of friends I’ve noticed that when I go to parties with this kind of bar setup, I’m often asked if I could “make something good” for someone. It becomes my task to check out the ingredients at the bar (or what’s left of them) and improvise “something good”. Next thing I know, I’m making this concoction for a bunch of people who are happy to drink something that they didn’t have to put much thought into. The next time I hosted a party, I remembered this and decided to put this phenomenon to use. In the process, I accidentally figured out a way to spend half as much on my “bar” and serve something special that leaves an impression.
The next time I went shopping for alcohol to stock a party, I decided to skip the part where people make their own drinks, and go right to the part where I’m making them. So I made two cocktails. Two really big cocktails. I came up with two different cocktails that I could make in pitchers. I then set up my bar with a bowl of ice, glasses, napkins and my two pitchers that I simply refilled as the night went on. It was a simple and very cost effective way to host a party and leave a nice impression on my guests.
The trick is using pretty much the same spirits but with different mixers so that there is variety. I recommend vodka as the main liquor, but you could easily substitute rum. Either way, use plain, clear, non-flavored spirits. I recommend Seagram’s vodka or Castillo Silver rum—both are good quality yet relatively cheap.
Triple Sec should be a staple of any home bar. Just like a good bottle of hot sauce, buy it once keep it around, a little goes a long way, and you can mix it with just about anything. A 1-liter bottle costs around $15 and will last through many parties.
So head out to Costco, BevMo or Trader Joe’s to pick up these ingredients and meet me back here next week for some tasty, simple drink recipes.