Raising the bar
Le Bar, Four Seasons Hotel George V, Paris
The Oak Bar, Plaza Hotel, NYC
Thankfully on the East Coast, it is 5 o'clock. And, of course, that means cocktail time! Beautiful hotels like the Plaza in NYC and the Four Seasons in Paris can make the simplest cocktails look and seem more elegant. But, there is usually a premium to pay for that ambience... sticker shock might be the more appropriate term.
Fortunately, we can borrow ideas from these establisments. Theft IS the highest form of flattery! Here are a few of their tricks....
This silver-plated oversized ice buckets are frequently used on banquet tables and on large bars for wine and champagne. Smaller versions work great at home -- place them on the kitchen counter or patio table for your next cocktail soiree.
Simple, functional, and always in style... the Boston shaker will make you look like a bar tending rockstar at your next party.
There are scads of corkscrews on the market... lever style, the waiter's, twisting-pull cork, and two-pronged. The winged is my favorite because it isn't fussy, doesn't take rocket science to figure out how to use it, and there is a bottle opener at the top.
Available at most major retailers like Target, Williams Sonoma, Bed Bath and Beyond, and Sur la Table.
A small footed cutting board, like this one from John Boos, is a practical way to display and to cut lemons, limes, and other cocktail ingredients.
Don't forget, you need a way to measure ingredients. Jiggers come in all shapes and sizes.
For heaven's sake, get some heavy cocktail glasses. Because, if your friends are like my friends, they will break the wimpy ones. I have these glasses and absolutely adore them. Glen Plaid double-old fashion crystal glasses from Ralph Lauren.
I think that decanters are great... though I usually never actually use any of mine except for display. Though not usually seen at the hotel bar, they use them frequently for room service. This one caught my eye... funky and festive. The Tilt Decanter, by Karim Rashid for Nambe.
Crystal decanters are available in a wide variety of price points. Check out eBay and local antique stores for some good deals.
Being a bit of a novice to the world of wine glasses, I first read about these in GQ Magazine a few months ago. These Schott Zwiesel glasses are made in Germany from titanium-infused crystal which makes them virtually indestructible.
Irish Coffee Mug
It is always a good idea to have coffee available for your guests. And, if they want to add liquor to it, then these mugs are simple, sturdy, and stylish.
Silver Julep Cups
Southern bars are just not complete without some silver julep cups. They are perfect for those mint julep moments. And, they work as great containers for cut flowers (like roses) when not being otherwise used.
So, enjoy happy hour. Cheers!