1.) Allow a pound of ice, three drinks, three glasses and three napkins for each guest at a two-hour cocktail party.
2.) Start your bar with basics needed for the beverages you and your guests drink most often and those you know how to make; add others gradually.
3.) Batch drinks — bloody marys, margaritas, punches (find recipes here) — are more efficient to serve at a party than making singles for each guest. A themed drink also can add to the ambience and cement the theme of the party.
4.) Hard-frozen solid ice cubes are best for cocktails as they melt slower, not diluting the drink.
5.)Vermouth is a wine and must be refrigerated and consumed within a short time.
6.) Select liquor you like, regardless of the label.
7.) Make your own simple syrup by adding one part water and two parts sugar to a saucepan, heating it until the sugar dissolves. Let it cool before putting it in a bottle.
8.) Don't forget about guests who don't drink alcohol. Plan for festive-looking drinks served in cocktail glassware, such as whipping fresh berries, a splash of lemon and ice in a blender and serving with a fruit garnish or mixing cranberry juice with simple syrup and a little seltzer over crushed ice with a three-cherry garnish.
How to set up a home bar (slideshow)