Mindy Kobrin



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The cocktail is back and mixology is the new muse!  Keeping a well-stocked bar and wine cabinet promises to help you be a star.  Twist, shake and stir your bar prowess to new heights with a checklist to keep the après-party spirit alive.

From hand-shaken concoctions of top-shelf liquor, fresh juices, house-made syrups and unusual ingredients that might include rose water, herbs, pears and raspberries, you too, will be able to whip up signature cocktails.

Here’s what you need to READY-SET-FLOW.  Essential bar ingredients include non-alcoholic drinks and mixers, such as sparkling and flat water, regular and diet sodas, lagers and ales, and fruit slices and mixed nuts.  Before any party, decide which type of specialty cocktails you would like to serve along with red or white wines and Champagne.

Gourmet the Easy Way Tip: Keep the bubbly, bubbly by simply inserting a metal spoon into the neck of the freshly opened champagne bottle.  It’s effervescent magic!

Suit the mood and the food with the right cocktail!

Selecting a specific cocktail also helps reduce expense and effort before the party while doubling as an easy stimulating conversation starter amongst guests.  Plus, once the specific cocktail is selected, turn up your creative and whimsical juices:

  1. Name cocktail after a friend, couple or honoree.
    2.  Create personalized custom stickers with pictures of chosen person(s).  I like to use www.zazzle.com for a big order.
    3.  Affix stickers to top of swizzle sticks or skewers for instant cocktail party magic!
    4.  Use the same idea for place settings with individual pictures affixed to bamboo skewers.  Insert each personalized skewer into a decorated votive candle for festive party panache.

Drink Calculator
It’s always better to have liquor left over than to run dry at your party.  Depending on the size and length of your party, these basic quantities will help your four hour soirée flow:

  1. One 750 milliliter bottle of wine pours 4-6 glasses
  2. One 750 milliliter bottle of spirits provides approximately 14-16 drinks
  3. Signature cocktail ratio is 2½ drinks per guest
  4. Mixers should be stocked at 1 liter for each type for a party crowd of 15 guests or less
  5. If using plastic cups, estimate each guest will use 3 cups during the party

Handy-Dandy Drink Conversion Chart
Most of the spiked heel potions, drinks with a sexy kick, and libations are measured in ounces, jiggers, dashes and teaspoons.  To help you easily multiply the effects, I have provided this dandy conversion chart.

Serves 1: Party Pitcher:
½ oz 1¼ cup
¾ oz 1¾ cups plus 2 Tbs
1 oz or Pony 2½ cups
1½ oz or Jigger 3¾ cups
1 tsp ¼ cup plus 2½ Tbs
Dash 2½ tsp


Before your party, check inside your freezer and make sure you have plenty of crushed ice or cubes on hand.  You’ll need at least one ten pound bag of ice per four guests or approximately eight cubes crushed per drink.

Important Host Rules:
1.  As a premier host and diplomat for the evening, it is your primary duty to make introductions and keep the conversations going and drinks flowing.  Celebrate the indefinable and quite desirable feeling of connectedness by making sure you have extra glasses on hand for unexpected guests to keep the party moving.  My personal favorite, silver gimlets, are a classy addition to any bar and can also double as mini-bouquet vases.
2.  Help your shy guests enjoy entertaining.  Ask them to walk around the party with appetizers or with a wine bottle in hand, offering nibbles and refills to everyone.
3.  If your party is over ten people, it’s best to hire a bartender.
4.  When the party is nearing its end, it’s time for the hostess-with-the-mostest to make the rounds asking guests if they’d like “one last drink” to gracefully call it a night.



  • Gin, Bombay Sapphire
  • Bourbon, Wild Turkey or Maker’s Mark
  • Campari
  • Chambord
  • Cognac
  • Grand Marnier
  • Grenadine
  • Kahlua
  • Kirsch
  • Limoncello, a sweet Italian liqueurserved ice cold as a digestivo
  • Rum
  • Schnapps (Peach, Peppermint)
  • Tequila (Patron Silver)
  • Triple Sec
  • Vermouth
  • Vodka, Grey Goose or Ketel One


  • Bitters
  • Cranberry Juice
  • Orange Juice
  • Pomegranate Juice
  • Tomato Juice
  • San Pellegrino sparkling water and Fiji flat water
  • Simple Syrup (flavored optional)

Champagne & Wine
Veuve Clicquot, Philipponnat, Louis Roederer Cristal Champagne (Brut and Rose)
Whites and Reds: Some of my favorites include Pouilly-Fume, Sancerres, Montrachet-Blanc,Bourgogne Blanc, Pinot Noirs, Barolos and Argentinean Malbecs.


  • Lemon, lime and orange wedges
  • Bamboo skewers
  • Maraschino cherries
  • Mixed olives
  • Old Bay Seasoning (for outstanding Bloody Mary’s)
  • Pearl onions


Shaking like a pro adds panache to any celebration.  Here are a few tips to get the party started in style.

Shake Your Thing

1.  Once you decided which special cocktail to serve, measure the ingredients with the jigger, place them into the shaker and add crushed ice.  Then cap the shaker, hold the little top plate tightly in place and shake it back and forth vigorously for 20 seconds or until the shaker is covered in condensation.  Immediately pour the libation through the strainer into the appropriate glassware.  Add swizzle sticks and fresh garnish to top it off.

2.  Remember your drink slightly dilutes when shaken with ice.  When making a party pitcher of a shaken cocktail recipe, add several scoops of ice cubes to the designated pitcher and stir with oomph to chill the drink.  When the cubes have melted by half, fish them out of the pitcher with a long slotted spoon and discard before presenting your party pitcher.

Bar Gadgets and Accessories

Chic bar accessories will keep you stylish and hip and with each soirée, you’ll gradually build your bar inventory.

Blender: Great for mixing drinks for many people.  It is ideal for drinks containing ice cream, fruits or fruit purée.

Bottle stoppers and corks: To help extend the shelf-life of opened wine and Champagne bottles.

Chopping board and knife: For cutting and peeling fruits, herbs and olives.

Citrus reamer: A ridged device used for extracting citrus fruit juices.

Cocktail shaker set: The classic three-piece shaker consists of a tumbler, a removable strainer and a small cover.  The beaker can also be used as a container for stirring drinks.

Corkscrew: A true essential bar gadget is the “waiter’s tool” which combines a blade to cut the foil on wine bottles, a corkscrew and bottle opener.  For an international twist, I can always count on the Swiss-crafted accessories from Zyliss.

Fresh herbs: Including mint and oregano sprigs

Ice bucket, scoop and tong set: To help keep the bar tidy, mobile and the beverages cool.

Jigger: It is a crucial measuring tool for pouring accurate 1½ oz quantities.

Muddler (wooden) & metal bar spoon: Tools used for crushing, stirring and measuring.  Note: A muddler with a long shaft is best so you can crush herbs and limes comfortably inside highball glasses.

Napkins: For cool and fabulously designed paper napkins, I adore Kate’s Paperie.  Provide two or three cocktail napkins per guest or more if hors d’oeuvres will be served.

Serving bowls: For limes, lemons, Maraschino cherries and olives.

Shaker: The key to refreshing and well-mixed cocktails with a built-in strainer.

Swizzle stick: A small thin rod used for stirring mixed drinks.