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» Cozy with cocktails
Set up your own bar and be ready to party
» Club guide
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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.
PHOTOGRAPHS BY NORMAN SHAPIRO
Make a splash at the beach or a tailgate party with this bright mini-fridge-to-go, $275, The Place.
Some cocktails simply cannot exist without a blender (think margaritas). Jenn-Air "Atrezzi" blender, $213.95, Executive Chef.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."