The Home Bartender: Holiday Entertaining

It’s The Home Bartender time! This series caters to those of you who are not necessarily working bartenders but who are really interested in drinking better cocktails and learning how to make them! Each month our Home Bartender expert, Matej Novak, will run you through a new topic. This month, he discusses something very appropriate for this season: HOLIDAY ENTERTAINING!

If you’re planning any dinners, parties or casual get-togethers this holiday season, I think it’s important to actually be part of them, rather than the one serving everyone all night. You might want to show off a new drink, ingredient or technique, but why not help your future self out by getting as much ready ahead of time as possible. I’ve talked about pre-squeezing juices and making syrups before, but you can take it a step further and batch your drinks. Here are a few tips:

  1. Stir (or shake) as you go. I recommend making a few drinks at a time, stirring or shaking depending on the drink, then transferring to whatever bottle you’re going to keep it in. This lets you achieve the proper level of dilution, which is harder to do when the drink is cold, and saves you time later.
  2. Keep it in the fridge. If it’s a stirred drink, like a Manhattan, it’ll keep for a few weeks, as long as you store it in a sealed container. For sours and other shaken drinks with citrus in them, you’ll want to make these the day before and use them within about 24 hours.
  3. Measure and serve. Then all you need to do is measure out 2–3 ounces of the premixed cocktail, garnish and serve.

Punches are another great option for large groups (check out David Wondrich’s book on the subject for everything you need to know). They look great and allow people to serve themselves, which frees you up even more. Of course, that also makes it easier for people to overindulge, so make sure everyone gets home safely or spends the night at your place if they need to — because the party doesn’t really end until the next day, when everyone remembers the great time they had.

For more information about holiday entertaining, watch the video above that I made in Walt Disney World. Somehow it all makes sense (I hope).

The Home Bartender: Holiday Entertaining | Bartender Atlas
Photo: Jessica Blaine Smith

BONUS: T’is the giving season! We are giving away a 5 piece Gun Metal Plated Bar Tool Set to one lucky person! To enter: please head over to our Instagram and find the above photo in our feed for the details.

Matej Novak
Matej is a writer and cocktail enthusiast living in Kingston, Ontario. He’s annoyed bartenders with endless questions in cities including Toronto, New York, San Francisco, Portland, Prague, London and Tokyo. He’s also amassed more cocktail tools and accoutrements than with which he knows what to do (told you he’s a writer). Don’t be like Matej. Learn from his mistakes — and his successes — instead.
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