Living

How to Stock Your Holiday Bar

Ernest chrome bar cart, $199 by CB2

The holidays are all about good times. And let's get real for a sec—they're also about stress and all-day affairs that very likely involve family members with whom you may not see eye-to-eye when it comes to, say, politics. But good or bad, it all leads to booze, right? Of course, most casual drinkers don't keep a fully stocked bar year-round. As we head into the thick of party season, a small but smart bar setup is essential. Make sure you're stocked with all the bottles to ensure your thirsty houseguests are properly lubricated for a jolly evening.

In the Refrigerator

Dogfish Head Pennsylvania Tuxedo

Seasonal Beer

This is an occasion to go beyond the everyday bottles. Breweries around the country are making some spectacular holiday-inspired brews. Like this citrusy and spruce-infused pale ale.

Pennsylvania Tuxedo, $10.99 for a four-pack by Dogfish Head

Stella Artois Cidre

Hard Cider

An easy drinking beverage for those who aren't beer lovers. This crisp cider also makes a great mixer for seasonal cocktails as well.

Cidre, $9.29 for a six-pack by Stella Artois

Martini & Rossi Prosecco

Mini Prosseco

Sparkling wine will lose its effervescence if it's open too long. Plus, these mini bottles are just so damn fun for everyone.

Prosecco, $2.49 each by Martini & Rossi

Straus Family Creamery Organic Eggnog

Egg Nog

Festive and decadent and, we suggest, non-alcoholic. It's probably best to leave the level of spiking up to your guests.

Organic eggnog, $6.79 by Straus Family Creamery

Bundaberg Ginger Beer

Ginger Beer

Ginger is a great holiday spice to add to cocktails and balances out stronger spirits. Plus it can easily enjoyed on its own over ice.

Ginger beer, $5.99 for a four-pack by Bundaberg

Lakewood Organic Cold-Pressed Grapefruit Juice

Grapefruit Juice

Citrus season is in full swing in the winter and grapefruit pairs particularly well with spirits like gin and tequila.

Cold-pressed grapefruit juice, $4.81 by Lakewood Organic

R.W. Knudsen Pineapple Juice

Pineapple Juice

A great winter fruit that adds a tropical vacation vibe to any drink. There's a reason why it's on so many winter bar menus.

Organic pineapple juice, $7.83 by R.W. Knudsen

Schweppes Club Soda

Club Soda

Spring for the small bottles so each drink is fresh and bubbly. We like Schweppes because of the velvety, microscopic bubbles.

Club soda, $4.75 by Schweppes

We didn't include regular wine on this list as it's been our experience that many guests will show up with a bottle, ensuring there will be plenty on hand.

On Your Bar

You don't need a vast stretch of bottles littering the top of your bar. That will only overwhelm and confuse your guests. Or have people mixing crap they don't even plan to drink. Five or six key bottles will do the trick. Rum, whiskey, gin, tequila and maybe vodka. Sit those next to plenty of cups and a large bucket of ice. Be a gracious host and set out some garnishes like orange slices or peels, mint leaves, rosemary sprigs and pomegranate seeds.

How Much to Buy

Plan on two drinks per person for the first two hours, one drink per person for each additional hour, according to most entertaining experts.

50%

Will drink beer (or cider)

30%

Will use hard liquor

20%

Will sip wine