The six-foot-long marble-topped sideboard in my living room is a perfect platform for the gleaming platters and bowls that I use to corral liquors, mixers, and bartending tools. In addition, I set out cake stands; I find that a little elevation instantly adds visual interest. I'm not one to decant liquor, especially because the labels on bottles these days are so beautifully designed. Since I serve only a few types of drinks, I always have multiples of those gorgeous bottles, creating a great graphic effect. 7-piece bar tool set; recipe cocktail shaker; ice bucket with tongs, Martha Stewart Collection, macys.com. Vintage swizzle sticks, in Black; in Amber; moodindigonewyork.com. Vertigo tray, christofle.com
Some of my friends think it's crazy (bordering on cruel) that I serve only clear cocktails. But the neutral palette in my apartment could never forgive a red wine or dark-liquor spill. It doesn't matter if I have one couple or a whole crew over: It takes just one tipped glass to kill the carpet. So I stick with vodka, gin, and Champagne. Those three allow for plenty of range: all manner of gimlets, martinis, gin-and-tonics, and of course Champagne cocktails. I also do a lot of prepping -- I mix several batches of whatever cocktail I'm serving, set out glasses, slice up the garnishes -- because I want to have cocktails ready when my guests arrive. There's nothing like being offered a drink in a beautiful glass when you walk through the door. It's the ultimate welcome. All spirits from Pasanella and Son Vintners, pasanellaandson.com
Highballs, old-fashioned glasses, coupes, flutes, tumblers -- there are dozens of types of glasses. Choose based on what you most like to drink and serve. For me, Champagne flutes and martini glasses are essential. Even with something as minimal as a martini glass, it's easy for the design to go wrong. It's a bit like decorating a modern apartment; you can't hide the flaws, because the lines are simple to begin with. That's why I prefer to stick with classic designs that have just a dash of dazzle: A faceted stem, for example, can make all the difference between boring and brilliant. It's important to pick out glasses in person, to hold them and feel how they sit in your hand. Once you know what you love, you can always order more online.
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