7 Things Every Woman Needs in Her Home Bar
A chic and empowered approach to mixing drinks in style, A Woman’s Drink is the ultimate cocktail book for ladies. Filled with gorgeous cocktails and favorite drinks from notable women, this book celebrates a new cocktail culture that’s distinctly and unapologetically feminine.
Natalka Burian, author and co-owner of the Brooklyn bars Elsa and Ramona, shares the seven things you should keep in your home bar at all times. Read on below!
When I meet someone new and they find out what I do, they generally ask one of three questions; “How late do you have to stay up every night?” “You must have some crazy stories, huh?” and “What things should I be keeping in my kitchen/liquor cabinet/drink cart?” The answers to those first two are, “Not that late anymore” and “Oh YEAH.” That last question has a much more extensive answer.
My recommendations always trend toward preparedness, and general sustained ease. I’ve compiled a list of my absolute home bar must-haves that should keep you ready for anything, entertaining-wise.
7 Things Every Woman Needs in Her Home Bar
1. At Least Two Bottles of Sparkling Wine
Keeping sparkling wine in the house is a pro move. First of all, it goes with pretty much any food. Secondly, it’s a cocktail that makes itself. Offering a friend, colleague, or loved one a glass of champagne is so different than offering a regular glass of wine, or water, or a beer. It evokes a real sense of occasion, and it makes your guest feel instantly important. As a host, that’s a great feeling. I recommend stocking one or two less expensive bottles of cava or prosecco for general use, and having one bottle of something better just in case. You never know when you’ll need to celebrate a truly special occasion, or, when you have to run out to a dinner party, or a housewarming, or birthday celebration. I promise you’ll feel on top of everything if that bottle of nice sparkling wine is just sitting there, ready to go.
2. Angostura Bitters
There are hundreds of bitters out there, but if you only have one kind at home, make it Angostura. These bitters are aromatic, spicy, and balancing, and they are an essential ingredient in some of the easiest classic recipes out there. The Angostura company tag line is “A liquor cabinet without Angostura bitters is like a kitchen without salt and pepper.” And man, is it the truth. You can make a beautiful and impressive champagne cocktail by soaking a sugar cube in the bottom of an empty glass with a few drops of angostura and then topping with sparkling wine. Or, you can whip up the classic heavy hitters, from an old fashioned to a manhattan. You can add a few dashes of bitters to spice up your soda water, too—one of my best friends swears by this as a hangover cure.
3. Demerara Sugar Cubes (Demerara is Just Sugar That’s Been Partially Refined)
I bet you saw this one coming. Obviously, a high quality, substantial, slightly-caramelly demerara sugar cube is perfect in the previously mentioned champagne cocktail and old fashioned. They’re also a great way to cheat simple syrup, especially if you’re only making one or two drinks. If you’re in a rush and don’t want to make a whole batch of simple syrup for a mojito or mint julep, just drop a cube in the bottom of a glass, add a couple of tablespoons of warm water and you’re in business. Demerara sugar cubes are also very beautiful (these really class up an after dinner coffee service) and are easy to store. I keep some in a glass jar with a screw top in my kitchen cabinet.
4. Extra Ice Cube Trays
When it comes to making cocktails, ice is essential. Quality is nice, but it’s quantity that you really need. Keep an extra ice cube tray or two filled and ready to go so that you’re always prepared no matter how many guests show up. If you’re having a party of any kind, tell a couple of different people to bring ice. There’s no kind of downer like a lukewarm drink on a hot day or in a crowded room.
5. Amaro, Port, or Some Other After Dinner Beverage
One of the great, grown-up joys of my thirties has been discovering the delight of a person who’s just been offered an after-dinner drink. It’s such an unexpected and thoughtful detail that causes very little stress or pain for the person hosting. My very favorite after-dinner drink to have on hand is an Amaro, specifically Amaro Nonino. Serving a round of Amaro to guests makes me feel like a chic Italian countess. You should stock whatever after-dinner drink you like best. It could be a port, or a brandy, or a Moscato d’asti. It’s not something you need to relegate strictly to dinner parties, either. A digestif can be the perfect, easy nightcap for a date that goes well, or an alternative to tea to offer a friend during a cozy night in.
6. A Couple of Random Citrus Fruits
I’m always surprised by how useful citrus can be—obviously, you can use it in the kitchen or in your home bar, but you can also give yourself highlights, or to make your hands stop smelling like garlic. Citrus is amazing! I’m not a garnish purist, so I think whatever citrus you have, as long as it’s fresh and fragrant, can garnish most of the drinks you serve. Nobody’s going to say no to a juicy slice of lemon in their Aperol Spritz or a beautiful twist of orange zest in their gin and tonic.
7. YOUR Favorite
Your guests are important, but you are important, too. Make sure you always have your favorite spirit, or bottle of wine, or beer, or cider, or wine cooler, or soda water, or kombucha, or whatever sweetens the day, on hand for yourself. You deserve the exact same consideration that you offer your guests, and I promise you that it will feel good to be prepared for those moments when you really need to feel taken care of.
Ultimately, entertaining should make you feel good. Your guests are joining your life when they come through your door, so the more like yourself you can feel while entertaining, the better for everyone.
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You can find A Woman’s Drink here.
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