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The Well-Stocked Holiday Bar

You’ve probably heard the expression, “Mind Your P’s and Q’s,” but
you probably never knew that its origin is rooted in alcohol
consumption. In English pubs, drinks are served in pints and quarts.
Back in the old days when patrons were feeling the effects of lifting
one too many, the bartender could tell them to ”Mind their own pints and
quarts.” Over the passage of time, it got shortened to the current
familiar expression.


This little anecdote is a reminder of just how much drinking is
intertwined with social events. Knowing how to best serve alcoholic
beverages within the context of a gathering is an acquired skill, and
here to give you some pointers is The Liquid Chef, Kim Hassarud, founder
of LA-based Liquid Architecture, a beverage consultancy that develops
signature drinks and bar concepts. Kim’s client list includes such
corporate powerhouses as Maxim Magazine, Fox Searchlight, Warner
Brothers, HBO, and Comedy Central. She has also authored several books
including 101 Margaritas, 101 Martinis, 101 Sangrias and Punches, and 101 Champagne Cocktails.

Kim says that when it comes to stocking the bar, it can be a little
intimidating because there are so many types of alcohol one could have,
and it’s difficult to decide what to choose. She’s a big fan of serving
one or two “signature” cocktails at a party and pre-batching them. She
adds that guests like to try something new and appreciate the effort.
However, for you diehards out there that really want an open bar, she
recommends a good high-quality vodka, like Belvedere. It is always good
to have on hand, because it mixes well with almost any juice. Add to
that a good gin, like Plymouth, Beefeaters, Hendricks; rum, like 10
Cane, Bacardi; bourbon, such as Bulleit; and a type of orange liqueur
for Cosmos and Margaritas, like Grand Marnier or Cointreau. It’s
also good idea to have beer, wine, and a sparkling wine, like Barefoot

When you’re planning how many drinks to serve per guest, Kim
recommends that you figure on one to two signature drinks maximum that
you can pre-batch. If you try to do an open bar and serve every kind of
drink, you’ll only spread yourself thin. Her rule of thumb is do just a
couple of drinks and do them well.

There are certain mixed drinks that have stood the test of time and
have become perennial crowd pleasers. Kim says, “Margaritas are big-time
hits, especially if you use fresh squeezed lime juice and other
seasonal fruits. And, be sure to use a pure agave tequila. An “Adult
Lemonade Stand” is also fun and very simple.

Make some traditional
lemonade, and guests can add vodka to it or even top it off with a
sparkling wine, such as Barefoot Bubbly. Or, top it off with fresh juice
like Pomegranate or Guava for the non-drinkers or kids.”

Kim also offered one of her own signature drink recipes for you to try at your next bash:

  • Fresh Lemonade
  • 2 parts fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 part sugar
  • 3 parts water

Add vodka, gin, or a sparkling wine for an adult version. Also try
adding pomegranate juice (or your favorite) for an interesting twist.

One thing to keep in mind is that hosting a party where alcohol is
served comes with responsibility and legal liability. A number of states
have passed laws known as “Dram Shop Liability,” which make anyone,
including hosts of private in-home parties, who serves alcohol
to someone who is intoxicated or under-aged responsible for any damage
or injury that person may cause either on the premises, or on their way

These laws also permit victims of a drunk driver to sue the person
who served the alcohol. In some instances, criminal charges may also

The best way to avoid being victimized is to be proactive and not let
your guests leave your party with their judgment and motor skills
impaired. Kim suggests serving dessert with coffee, tea, cappuccinos,
etc., an hour before the event ends. The drinks should be put away at
this point. If the party is going to be a “rager,” and a lot of alcohol
will be consumed, work backwards from when the party will end, and stop
serving drinks 1-1/2 hours before the time your guests will start
leaving. You can also try having your guests put their car keys in a
basket, even if they aren’t planning on drinking. When someone is ready
to leave, group consensus decides if they are okay, or someone else
should drive them home.

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