Top Bartenders Give Their Best Advice for Entertaining at Home

Man pouring espresso martini cocktails at home
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Hosting a party can induce anxiety in the most even-keeled among us. Whether you’re committing to a whole dinner party, or just keeping it casual with cocktails, you’re gonna want to have some expert tips, barware, and bottles on hand.


We hit up some of the top mixologists, bar managers, and authoritative voices in the mixology space to get the best advice for home entertaining.

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1. Ice Is Crucial

“The most necessary ingredient for cocktails is ice. I stay away from the stuff from the bodega or refrigerator dispenser. That ice tends to be crumbly and cloudy, not thick and clear. To get good-size cubes, use silicone ice cube trays.” — Kathryn Bangs, former creative director of the Sydell Group

2. Even Experts Need Help

“You need a recipe book. The one I learned from is Regarding Cocktails, by Sasha Petraske. It explains hosting, building cocktails, and understanding how to dilute them to the perfect temperature. Another great option is the app Bartender’s Choice.” — Nathan O’Neill, bar manager at New York’s NoMad Bar

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3. Make A Big Batch

“Pre-batch and freeze your martini. When friends come over, I just grab the bottle from the freezer, pour into a glass, and throw in an olive. It’s super easy, it’ll impress your friends, and a martini straight out of the freezer has the most luscious, velvety texture ever.” — Natasha David, co-owner of New York’s Nitecap

4. Don’t Overlook Liqueurs

“On your bar cart, add Campari and/or an amaro. Amaro Nonino is one of those bottles that I pull out again and again, to mix with whiskey or pour neat after dinner. It’s one of the most flavorful amaros, balancing orange, caramel, and spice.” — Kara Newman, author of Nightcap: More Than 40 Cocktails to Close Out Any Evening

Check out our favorite pieces of barware and must-have glassware for crafting the perfect cocktail.

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