Wine & Spirits

'Tis the Season (For Holiday Partying)

Muddler in a cocktail glass
Katherine Harris

Ready or not, we are fast approaching the biggest entertaining holidays of the year. We’ll all be eating, drinking, and making merry—unless, of course, you’re the one throwing the party. While the quality of ingredients is very important in making a great cocktail, so is using the right technique to achieve the desired results. These days, you can buy gadgets for everything, but the trick is knowing which are musts for a well-tuned bar. Here’s a start:

  • 28-ounce metal Boston tin.
  • Pint glass.
  • Jigger—a newer design with several volume lines printed on the inside.
  • Muddler—make sure it’s long enough to reach the bottom of a pint glass without bruising your knuckles.
  • Hawthorne strainer—flat top with a round wire coil.
  • Twister or channel knife—for making citrus twists and zesting peels.
  • Large and small straight-bladed knife—one for cutting fruit, one for intricate garnishes.
  • Cutting board.
  • Hand-held citrus press—for juicing half limes.
  • Corkscrew and bottle opener.

If your pants are fancy, check out, but and seem to cover the basics well enough. Locally, I’ve always had good luck at Kitchen Window in Calhoun Square.

Johnny Michaels is head bartender at La Belle Vie and also runs Johnny Michaels’ Cocktail Catering Service. Reach him at