Who doesn’t like a well-crafted cocktail? If only it were easy to recreate your favorite libations right in your very home. Marlon Hall, beverage director at The Candy Apple Cafe & Cocktails, gives us the lowdown on creating the perfect home bar cart just in time for hosting holiday parties — best of all, no bar tab!

Portability

Choose a bar cart that can be moved easily from room to room. This will make entertaining easier. “The idea behind a bar cart lies in its portability. So, it shouldn’t be so big it can’t be moved with convenience,” Hall said.

OKL lolita bar cart brass mirror happyhousemanifesto

Storage

Before you settle, consider a bar cart with ample storage space to house all of your tools and glassware. Hall suggests having at least three to four shelves with space enough to fit your tallest bottle of liquor.

Proper Tools

Crafting the perfect cocktail requires having the necessary items. Hall recommends these basic tools: bottle opener, wine key, cutting board, pairing knife, Boston shaker, ice bucket, napkins, straws and glassware. He also advises to keep plenty of bar towels on hand. “Accidents happen and you will need to be prepared for spills,” he said.

iStock_000011983160Large_0

The Booze

What bar would be complete without liquor? According to Hall, vodka, gin, rum and whiskey are the basic essentials. “These are the most common spirits for the basic cocktails. Martinis, daiquiris, old fashioneds, etc.” In addition to these basics, consider having some aromatic bitters on hand. “Bitters are what we call in the biz as ‘the salt and pepper of cocktails’,” Hall said of these high-proof, alcohol-infused mixtures of herbs and botanicals. “A few dashes is plenty.”

Extras

In addition to liquor, consider keeping a few mixers on hand like sweet vermouth, flavored sodas and fresh juices to create your concoctions. “Fresh squeezed juice is always best,” Hall said, but notes that quality commercial brands can also suffice. Don’t forget the garnishes: lemon, limes and oranges.

Now that your bar cart is fully loaded and ready to go, it’s time to start crafting cocktails.

Consider making this holiday concoction, prescribed by local cocktail artist, Jason Albertelli of Dos Gatos.

Winter in Jalisco

  • 1.25 oz tequila
  • .75 oz cointreau
  • Juice of half a lime
  • 1 oz simple syrup
  • 2 oz sour.
  • About 1 tsp pumpkin spice (found in grocer’s spice aisle)
  • Put all ingredients in a shaker. Shake, but don’t kill it.
  • Strain into glass with ice. Garnish with a lime wedge.

Quick Tip: “Don’t buy pre-made sour. Ever. Ever ever,” Albertelli said. Instead, try equal parts lemon juice, lime juice and simple syrup. It’s “quick and easy.”