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Stocking your bar for Christmas and New Years - Bachelor on the Cheap

20180812_182511-1By Mike Thayer

This is NOT the typical frilly, foofoo, cutesy, fancy drinks will make everything all merry Christmas drink idea list.....

The truth is, all you need are some basics to get "merry".....   A simple glass of wine, a choice or two of beer, and/or a smart selection of a few spirits will make just about any Christmas party guest quite happy....  pun intended.  You won't see frilly drinks like "Candy Cane Cocoa" or "Hot Buttered Rum Punch" on this list.

Here are my choices for the Christmas bar:

Wine:  It won't matter what you're serving, you'll need both a red and a white.  The fact is people prefer one over the other and it just doesn't matter if you're serving turkey, ham or beef.  And who really cares about wine etiquette anyway, drink what you like, right? For pre-meal and the meal itself, I go with a Chardonnay (just about everybody likes Chardonnay) - and a red that's not too dry.  My go-to wines are Dark Horse wines, they taste good and the price is right at around $8 - $10 a bottle.  Their line-up is versatile that's Bachelor on the Cheap friendly.  I like everything they offer - except the Merlot of course, I don't like anybody's Merlot.  After dinner, go with something sweeter, a Moscato, perhaps a Reisling, or a Port will do nicely.

Whiskey:  This is my go-to spirit of choice, it's versatile, tastes great neat, on the rocks or in a mixed drink.  And whiskey is actually THE trendy spirit beverage right now, with all the flavored varieties available.  You can find just about any kind of flavor combination in a whiskey these days, from vanilla, to apple, to pecan - the latter two I would recommend to have on hand for the holidays, a nice seasonal, festive touch.  All flavored whiskeys of quality are good as a chilled shot or as an excellent add to a bowl of vanilla ice cream or other dessert!  Be sure to have a regular whiskey on hand, be it a straight or blended variety for those mixed drinks.  Remember that a straight whiskey like a Makers Mark is going to be harsher than a blended whiskey like Seagram's.  Know your party audience on what most might prefer in their drink.

Beer:  Not everybody is a wine or spirits drinker, so you've GOT to have a selection of beer on hand.  I don't care for any of that seasonal beer crap like "Gingerbread Stout" or "Christmas Ale"....  Screw that, most of those are beers designed, a.k.a., "crafted" to pull in the quick seasonal buck, they're not truly refreshing beers.  You want "Christmasy," go with a good, hearty, tastes-good-anytime, red beer like Killian's Red or Sam Adams Irish Red.   You can go with some of the classics like Miller High Life or regular Budweiser for those who don't want to venture out of their comfort zones, but try to convince your guests to try the reds.  You might also consider having a light beer on hand too for those who don't want to drink anything too heavy, but don't go there - it's a CHRISTMAS PARTY for crying out loud!  If you need a plan 'C' beer, anything along the lines of Fat Tire, Modelo or Blue Moon will do (Have some orange slices on hand for bottle garnish).

Rum: I personally hate rum, did FAR too much of it drinking one night, prayed to the porcelain god as a result and I haven't really had a taste for it since if you know what I mean.....  But I do have some rum on hand for guests.  It's a versatile spirit for mixing and lends itself to some seasonal drinks if the crowd demands it.  It's a nice pairing with eggnog (bourbon is better), and yes, if somebody wants to do hot buttered rum you've got the main ingredient and of course, there's the boring Rum and Coke.  Apparently it's also a nice addition to apple cider.

Vodka:  This spirit is great for this time of year because it pairs so well with the seasonal, fruity, festive flavors.  It's nice with cranberry (the ladies like a Cosmopolitan), it works well with ginger, orange, lemon, lime, apple, pear and if you're going to do some kind of punch this would be my go-to spirit.  For vodka lovers, there's always the classic martini.

You can always of course add some spirits like Bailey's Irish Cream or Kahlua, those can be fun, but if you don't want to go to the extra expense, don't do it, you've really got all you need to please a party crowd with what I've listed above.  If you do go with some cream liquors however, here's a list of those and others you will want to refrigerate after opening.  They're NOT distilled and will go bad sitting on a counter or forgotten on a shelf in the liquor cabinet.

  • Bailey's
  • Kahlua
  • Sherry
  • Port
  • Vermouth

And one last tip, don't worry about buying top name brands of whiskey, rum, vodka or whatever, ESPECIALLY if your drink menu for the evening predominantly consists of mixed drinks.  Your guests won't be able to tell the difference between top shelf or the 'discount' brand.  Don't get Grey Goose Vodka, when Smirnoff will do....

There you have it folks, a nicely stocked bar that won't break your bank but will provide you and your guests a nice variety and a fine time.

$pend Wisely My Friends...

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