The Basics Tips & Tricks

Shake Smarter, Not Harder

Having a holiday party? I’ll bet you can’t wait to show off your bartending skills. But many hosts make the mistake of shaking cocktails after the festivities have already begun. Who wants to spend two or three hours cranking out drinks instead of enjoying the company of friends? Thankfully it doesn’t have to be this way. Try my tips that will make the party more fun for you and your guests.

Build a Better Bar:

Turn the dining-room table into your main bar and distribute the chairs around the room. This allows guests to come to the bar from all directions. On the two ends place nibbles and on the table’s sides set up bar stations with shakers, spoons and jiggers. In the center, place shared items like spirits, mixers, glassware, ice and garnishes. Don’t forget to print out a few simple recipes (from, of course), which guests can make for themselves.

Punch up the Party:

Make life easy for yourself by serving a big group drink, like punch, which can be made beforehand. My Uncle Angelo’s Eggnog (recipe below) can be made hours in advance or even the day before if you wait to whip the egg whites and add them as guests arrive.

The Pregame:

Most of your work should be done long before the doorbell starts ringing. Squeeze juices and cut lemon and lime garnishes earlier that day and stick them all in the fridge. Some cocktails, like the Cosmo, Margarita and Between the Sheets, can be made the same day in big batches and refrigerated. When guests arrive all you have to do is shake the premade drink with ice and serve. Martinis, Mojitos, sours and fizzes all need to be made to order, but no need to bring that up in front of your guests.


Uncle Angelo’s Eggnog

Contributed by: Dale DeGroff


  • 6 Separated eggs
  • 1 qt. Whole Milk
  • 1 pint Heavy Cream
  • .75 cup Sugar
  • 8 oz Bourbon (Four Roses)
  • 4 oz Spiced rum (Captain Morgan or Sailor Jerry)
  • Garnish: Fresh grated nutmeg
  • Glass: Punch or tea cup


Beat the egg yolks with half a cup of sugar well until they turn light in color. Add the milk, heavy cream and liquor to the yolks. Beat the egg whites in a separate bowl until they peak. Fold whites into the yolk mixture. Grate nutmeg over the drink.


Master Mixologist Dale DeGroff is the author of The Essential Cocktail and The Craft of the Cocktail.