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Bar guide

Having the girls over for a little Texas Hold 'Em calls for beer; no fancy accoutrements required. A cocktail party, however, calls for some effort. For that first foray into the world of sunset-hour entertaining, it's helpful to set a theme, or at least a mood. Choose a suave and swingin' 007 vibe with a martini party. Make merry in Margaritaville with a tequila-tasting. Set a sophisticated tone with a carefully edited selection of wines. Or turn your party into a zen experience by savoring sakes. Whatever theme you choose for your cocktail party, consider all the elements that contribute to the ambiance: lighting, decor, stemware, music, attire, even room fragrances. We did some sleuthing around Honolulu to find key elements for a successful cocktail party, as well as some stuff that's just plain fun.~Paula Rath

PHOTOGRAPHS BY NORMAN SHAPIRO

SIX-PACK TO GO

Make a splash at the beach or a tailgate party with this bright mini-fridge-to-go, $275, The Place.

SIR MIX-A-LOT

Some cocktails simply cannot exist without a blender (think margaritas). Jenn-Air "Atrezzi" blender, $213.95, Executive Chef.

BAR ON WHEELS

Have bar cart, will travel — anywhere in your home or lanai. Cart, $995, Interior Accents in the Gentry Pacific Design Center. On it, from left: stainless-steel bar tool set, $69, Executive Chef; ice bucket, $45, INTO; skull and cross-bones decanter, $69, INTO; tumblers, $19.50 each, INTO.

ADD A LITTLE ALOHA

Set a mood for your party, whether it's subdued and zen, or raucous with a blast of color. Here's a cool way to go with a Hawaiian theme. Pictured here: "Aloha Room" bar sign, $15, The Cottage; hula and 'ukulele bar accessories, $6 each, Under a Hula Moon; mermaid beer opener, $15, Under a Hula Moon; shell cocktail picks, $7.50, Under a Hula Moon; Hula coasters, $4 each, Under a Hula Moon.

LITTLE EXTRAS

Cocktail napkins are an easy, inexpensive way to stay with a theme (allow at least three per person), as are swizzle sticks, cocktail picks, coasters and wine stoppers.

CUTE 'N' KITSCHY

A bar theme can always go over the top with cute accessories such as these cocktail umbrellas, $2.25, Executive Chef, or "Tanked" coasters, $17.50 for four, Executive Chef.

Bar guide

OPEN BAR

So you're having your first cocktail party and don't quite know where to start? You can save shopping time and money and be a gracious host by asking your guests in advance what their drink of preference is. No need to buy Scotch if none of your guests is a Scotch drinker, right? However if you'd rather have the excuse to fully stock your bar, and have the resources to do so, here's what a well-stocked bar would include:

DRINKS: beer, white wine, red wine (got white carpet? maybe rethink red), champagne, vodka, gin, rum, tequila, Scotch, bourbon, liqueurs, nonalcoholic alternatives such as beer or sparkling cider.

MIXERS: soda, tonic, juices, soft drinks, Rose's lime (for gimlets), bitters.

TOOLS: pitcher and swizzle stick, blender, cocktail shaker, shot glass, cutting board and sharp knife, corkscrew, bottle opener, ice bucket (don't forget the ice — plenty of it!).

BAR GLASSES: red and white wine glasses, champagne flutes, beer mugs, martini glasses, high balls, tall glasses.

Martini madness

Make your party liquor-specific, with the right glassware and condiments. For a martini party, you'll need: vodkas and/or gins; vermouth or mixers such as fresh juices; olives, cocktail onions, lemon twists; a jigger, cocktail shaker and pitcher; ice and glasses. Palm tree pitcher, swizzle stick, $65, The Cottage; red martini shaker, $38.50, Under a Hula Moon; Salviati martini glass, $180 for four, Neiman Marcus; jigger, $7.50, Executive Chef; Mini Cooper martini glass, $32, The Place.

Manhattan recipe from Dale DeGroff's book, "The Craft of the Cocktail."

1. Two ounces blended or straight bourbon.
2. One ounce Italian sweet vermouth.
3. Two dashes of Angostura bitters.
4. Pour all the ingredients over ice in a mixing glass and stir as you would a martini.
5. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with the cherry.