Chicago Tribune
Posted with permission from Tribune Content Agency

Want to throw a proper cocktail party, but don't know where to start?

Proper tools and spirits are musts, and having them in a central location facilitates festivities. Natalie Jacob, a New York City-based beverage and creative consultant, said to start by choosing a bar cart.

"The bar cart should be a reflection of your style," Jacob said, saying adding that her home bar cart is a modern take on a midcentury style.

She bought hers from Anthropologie, but many retailers carry versions to suit every taste, Jacob said. West Elm and Room and Board carry them, and she said CB2 has affordable options. Bar carts generally have two shelves and sometimes three. Look for one with wheels.

"If it has wheels, you can move it to suit the room in different ways. It can be a centerpiece for a party where people serve themselves, or you can place it where you're mixing a drink or two for a few friends," Jacob said.

Aaron Polsky, bar manager at Harvard & Stone in Hollywood, Calif., said there are several tools you'll need to make cocktails, noting his favorite place to source barware is Its implements are made for professionals, and he recommends them for home bartenders too. The quality is high, and they go beyond being utilitarian, he said.

"You can get gold or copper (finishes), and their reserve collection has these beautifully etched mixing glasses. They have things that are nice for the home and are a nice gift," he said.

Polsky and Jacob said a shaker is a must. Polsky said he likes to use Cocktail Kingdom's Usagi Cobbler shaker (starting at $41.99) at events because it's an attractive piece and holds 28 ounces.

"You can shake three drinks for your friends in it," he said.

To measures liquids, both Polsky and Jacob swear by Oxo's angled measuring cups and jiggers ($6.99 each).

"You can look from the top or the side, and they have been proven and tested to be more accurate," Polsky said.

To stir drinks, invest in mixing glasses and bar spoons. A strainer rounds out the necessary tools. For glassware, Jacob said, home bartenders need three types of cocktail glasses, a double rocks glass, a highball glass and a coupe.

"As long as you have some variation of those three glasses, you'll be able to make anything," she said.