Where To Start: Entertaining Guests Part I

I tried posting this last week, and somehow it didn't work out and got lost. *shrug*

This series of post is for those of you who'd love to entertain, but don't know where to begin. Do you ever watch classic films and simply love the way they have their place setup and how they always have the proper libations at hand?

This post's focus will be setting up and stocking a home bar. A small aside--when I was a kid, I'd go to some people's homes and all they had was water and milk. Come to think of it, even as an adult I've been faced with that exact choice.

First rule of having guests--you must have an assortment of things to drink.

But how do you go about setting up a home bar?

Bar tools:  cocktail shaker (just go with an all metal type if you're uncomfortable with the Boston shaker --glass and metal), jigger, bar spoon, strainer, and maybe a muddler. These are the basics. You don't have to be fancy here and you could make do with some kitchen items you already have, but you can get these things in a kit from places like Williams Sonoma or World Market.


A Nice Autumn Cocktail: The Manhattan

Autumn has definitely set in up in the Rocky Mountains and there is nothing like a nice cocktail to warm one's insides. 

Here is the Manhattan, another classic cocktail that is simple to mix. There are many variations, but it's hard to go wrong with the traditional ingredients. 

Below is a photo I took just before dinner last night:

              Manhattan In The Mountains

              Manhattan In The Mountains

Notice the pleasant amber color. It reminds me of leaves turning in the fall.

This is a strong drink, and as I mentioned, there are many variations. Some of the variations soften it up a bit, but try to stick with the original first and adjust from there. 

Here is how to mix a basic Manhattan.


  • 2 parts rye (if you must, you can substitute bourbon or whatever whiskey you happen to have.
  • 1 part sweet red vermouth
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • cherry

If you don't have a cocktail shaker, just use a glass to house the ingredients.  Fill the shaker/glass with ice. Add the bitters, vermouth, and rye. Stir. If you shake the concoction you'll get a layer of foam on the top.

Drop the cherry in a cocktail glass like the one I used above, and strain the liquid from the shaker/glass into the cocktail glass. Enjoy. 

One way to soften the drink is to dump in a little bit of cherry juice, or add more sweet vermouth. 

Do you have a variation on the Manhattan?