How to Host Happy Hour for Less

Be your own bartender with a top-notch, five-bottle home bar that lets you make pretty much any popular cocktail and costs only $100. We’ll drink to that!


Five spirits experts share the bottles that deliver the best bang for your Benjamin. Try these pro picks to make your living room the best bar in town!


Plantation 3 Stars White Rum ($18 for 750 ml)

“This is one of my favorite white rums for any budget. An aged blend of Caribbean rums, it adds hints of tropical fruit to any drink, especially a daiquiri.” —Blair Reynolds, owner of bar and restaurant Hale Pele in Portland, OR 

Another great pick

Boozy Wray & Nephew White Overproof Rum will wake up a mai tai—or any tiki drink. ($19 for 750 ml)



Citadelle Gin ($25 for 750 ml)

“Leave it to the French to come up with a delightfully flavorful gin. (No wonder: it’s made with nearly 20 herbs, roots, spices and flowers.) It pairs particularly well with citrus. One Tom Collins, please.” —Paul Clarke, author of The Cocktail Chronicles 

Another great pick 

Juniper-heavy Gordon’s London Dry Gin is a steal, and ideal in a gin and tonic. ($13 for 750 ml)



Pueblo Viejo Blanco ($18 for 750 ml)

“This blanco tequila (which isn’t aged) is distilled in a traditional way. It has a citrusy, earthy flavor that shines in a margarita.” —Courtenay Greenleaf, corporate beverage director at Rosa Mexicano restaurants 

Another great pick 

Spicy Cimarrón Blanco offers fresh agave flavor. ($20 for 750 ml)



Tito’s Handmade Vodka ($21 for 750 ml)

“Corn-based Tito’s is one of the most bright- tasting, clean vodkas around—which is why it’s so delicious on the rocks or in a martini. I also love that it’s from Austin, my hometown.” —Christina Cabrera, bar consultant at San Francisco’s Barbarossa Lounge 

Another great pick

Crisp Gruven Handcrafted Vodka, made from wheat and rye, is a cocktail go-to. ($11 for 750 ml)



W. L. Weller Special Reserve ($18 for 750 ml)

“I don’t make cocktails with anything I wouldn’t drink on its own. This bourbon has a sophisticated sweetness balanced by a fiery kick, which makes it great neat and in a mixed drink.” —Michael Neff, bar director at NYC’s Holiday Cocktail Lounge 

Another great pick 

Aged in charred oak barrels, Jim Beam Black is just as complex as pricier bourbons. ($22 for 750 ml)


By Joshua M. Bernstein; Photography by Aaron Dyer


Bar Basics: Know Your Bubbles!

Champagne, cava and prosecco all sparkle, but they’re not the same. Get to know them a little better with this handy cheat sheet.




The Champagne region in northern France

Best traits

Can be toasty and dry (i.e. not sweet); available in a range of colors, from light golden to pink

Perfect date

A special occasion. Champagne uses high-quality grapes and takes longer to age, so it’s often the most expensive of the three. Save it for the times when you really want to celebrate.




The Catalonia region in northeast Spain

Best traits

Earthier, fruitier and often less expensive than Champagne

Perfect date

A weekend party with friends. The crowd-pleasing flavor and budget-friendly price makes this sparkling wine great for a group. And who says you have to start the party with bubbles? Spaniards sometimes serve cava after a meal.




The Veneto region in northeast Italy

Best traits

Light, crisp and apple-y; usually the sweetest and least expensive of the three sparklers

Perfect date

A leisurely Sunday brunch. You can sip prosecco on its own, and it also makes a great cocktail mixer. Thanks to its super-affordable price and low alcohol, bottomless mimosas can be had by all!


No matter which bubbly you choose, you can whip up a killer cocktail for your New Years Eve party. Here are some of our faves:

Cranberry-Cava Sparklers


Double Orange Spritz


Pomegranate Lava Lamp

4 Cocktails to Keep You Cool

The dog days of summer are upon us, and while we’re all about keeping hydrated,  sometimes you need something stiffer. These cocktails are refreshing, delicious and super seasonal– you may even forget how hot it is after all!

Cucumber Gin and Tonic

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How to Make the Ultimate Mint Julep

The Kentucky Derby may be over, but its famous cocktail, the Mint Julep, lives on– it’s National Mint Julep Day! So in honor of this fresh and strong cocktail, we’re sharing our best recipe. T-G-I-Saturday, right?

The Ultimate Mint Julep

1 teaspoon confectioners sugar

5 fresh mint leaves, plus 1 mint sprig for garnish

1/2 cup bourbon (4 ounces)

Crushed ice



Add the sugar, the mint leaves and a few drops of the bourbon to a chilled glass. Muddle or crush the mint with a spoon to create a thick paste.

Add a handful of crushed ice to the glass. Place a straw so that it reaches the mint paste at the bottom of the glass. Pour the remaining bourbon over the ice.

Add more crushed ice, making a mound that reaches to the top of the glass and leaving about 1 inch of the straw peeking above the rim.

Garnish with a mint sprig.


For a fun twist on the Mint Julep, try our Rye Julep, with a hint of grapefruit!

Negroni Mania!

The classic Italian cocktail is getting shaken and stirred into all kinds of delicious treats. During Negroni Week, June 1-7, participating bars and restaurants around the country are serving up fresh takes on the tipple and donating at least $1 from each sale to a charity of choice. Check out some of our picks for places to get your Negroni on. Cheers!

The Negroni pie at Brooklyn’s Butter & Scotch stars a custard of Campari, gin and vermouth. (


For a dessert of pillow-soft Negroni marshmallows, hit Cambridge, MA’s Ames Street Deli. (


Gin-flavored ice cream meets vermouth, Campari and Cheerwine in the Cheergroni float at Chuck’s in Raleigh, NC. (


The Negroni pop at San Francisco’s Humphry Slocombe blends the cocktail’s spirits with grapefruit juice. (


Serve yourself! To make a classic Negroni, stir equal parts Campari, gin and sweet vermouth in an ice-filled rocks glass (strain to serve if you wish). Garnish with orange peel.


By Erin Meister

Superbowl-Approved Beer Cocktails

With just a week and a half until the Superbowl, it’s time to start thinking about the snacks and drinks you’ll be serving (or bringing!) during the game. This year, instead of picking up a few six packs of your favorite brew, incorporate it into a show-stopping cocktail that might even steal the spotlight from the halftime show. We’ve got a recipe for any type of beer drinker, from the traditionalist to the trend-setter. They’re bound to score a taste bud touchdown!


For the (almost) beer purist: Lager & Lemon-Limeade

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Warm Cocktails for Cold Nights

If the weather outside is frightful, you need a cocktail to warm you up from the inside out. While we love a good hot toddy or mulled wine, we appreciate a creative spin just as much. So this winter season, sip on something spectacular, and then serve it to your friends! They’ll never know what hit them.

Sherry Hot Cocoa

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A Four-Ingredient Nightcap Cocktail

The holidays are all about luxury and indulgence, and the same should go for the cocktails you serve. This Coffee Mate is the quintessential cocktail to serve at a late night gathering around a fire. Your guests will think you’re a master mixologist when you tell them the secret ingredient: brown-sugar simple syrup!





2 oz. unsweetened plain almond milk

1 oz. cognac

1/2 oz. coffee liqueur

1/4 oz. brown-sugar simple syrup



To make the brown-sugar simple syrup, combine equal parts dark brown sugar and water in pot; heat until sugar dissolves. Cool. (Can be used in oatmeal, coffee and other fun holiday cocktails!)

To make the Coffee Mate, shake all ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice until cold. Strain into a chilled martini glass. Makes 1.


More Holiday Cocktail Recipes

Winter Shandy

Double Orange Spritz

Pom Selleck

Four-Ingredient Shandy: Not Just for Summer!

If you thought Shandies were just for summer and tailgating, think again: we’ve got a recipe perfect for cold, snowy nights by the fire. A Winter Shandy is just what your holiday party or night in needs. It’s light enough to casually sip among friends, but the warm and spicy hints of orange and pumpkin will make you feel as cozier than a cashmere sweater. Wanna know the best part? Each serving is less than 150 calories!



5 ounces pumpkin-spiced or amber beer

2 ounces lemonade

1/4 ounce warm orange marmalade

Orange slice



In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, stir first 3 ingredients until cold. Strain into a chilled highball or pint glass. Garnish with an orange slice. Makes 1.



More easy cocktail recipes

A three-ingredient tailgating cocktail? Score!

Sweet & tangy cocktails for your holiday party

4 hard apple cider ideas

The Spookiest Four-Ingredient Cocktail

Don’t even think about throwing a Halloween party without a stiff drink (pun intended). Here’s a cocktail that’s as creepy as it is tasty (and is sure to get you pickled): The Embalmer



1 15 ounce can pitted dark cherries in light syrup, drained, syrup reserved

8 ounces vodka

4 ounces triple sec

1 bottle sparkling white wine, chilled



Drop 1 cherry in each of 8 champagne flutes. Divide the cherry syrup, vodka and triple sec among the glasses. Top with the sparkling wine. Serves 8.


Have a happy Halloween!



More Delicious Four-Ingredient Cocktails

Sweet Ruby Cocktail

Rum & Coke Slushies

Red Velvet Champagne Cocktail