Try setting up a retro-cool martini bar, with the fixings for classic gin and vodka martinis, dirty martinis (my mainstay!) and perhaps some new “old favorites” as well, such as the Salt & Pepper Martini (a lighter gin martini with citrus and bitters) and the Vesper (the classic James Bond martini). Here are a few tips to get you started:
I purchased two boxes of very inexpensive, utilitarian, martini glasses (5 oz volume or less is perfect) at a discount store, which are kept specifically for entertaining. Keep the boxes – they’re great for storage.
A couple of high quality gins and vodkas are all you need. I usually serve a citrus-flavored vodka in addition to a plain, a “new style” gin (my favorite is flavored with cucumber and rose) and a classic old-school gin. Plus a bottle of nice, dry white vermouth.
A juice option is a good idea – orange juice, lemon and grapefruit are all good basics to have on hand.
Angustora bitters are a must, as well as any fancy bitters you might be partial to. Orange and peach are nice – but the varieties are endless. I received a bottle of maple bitters for Christmas and have been dying to take it out for a spin.
For me, it’s all about the olives – nice cocktail olives with pimentos, and blue cheese stuffed olives. These can be purchased pre-stuffed in many supermarkets. Also, have some lemon and orange peel, especially if Vespers are among your martini options. In summer, cucumber is nice. Make sure to have a cocktail muddler handy – a cucumber martini is amazing on a hot day!
Ice bucket at the ready! Ice tongs, cocktail shakers, mixing glasses (for martinis that are stirred, not shaken!), a cocktail muddler, and bar towels. Cocktail napkins are a must – break out your white linen versions if you are feeling fancy.
Michelle Palm created the Jelly Shot Test Kitchen blog after discovering a lack of cocktail-style jelly shot recipes. Look for her posts here, and check her Tablespoon member profile often to see what she’s already gelled up!