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Entertaining
The 9 Best Drinks to Serve at a Dinner Party

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Serving cocktails at a dinner party is more important than you might think. They’re the first line of defense against impatient or judgemental guests. No one will complain if the chicken is dry or the ice cream is melted if you keep the libations flowing. (Running out of booze, on the other hand, is a cardinal offense.) Here, the best drinks to serve at your next fancy-pants dinner party.

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Knowing how to make a great Martini is a simple but suave-as-heck skill that every host should master. Plus, the drink’s flexibility means everyone at the party can get their own personalized variation. Just study up ahead of time so you won’t miss a beat on that 50/50 with a twist.

The Essentials

Gin
Dry Vermouth
Like a siren song, the rattling ice of a cocktail shaker at work instantly whets the appetite of everyone in the room. When all eyes turn to the shaker, expecting a bright Daiquiri to emerge, pour out this deep purple concoction and blow your guests’ minds.

The Essentials

Gin
Crème de Violette
Maraschino
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This classic sour laid the groundwork for drinks like the Sidecar and Gimlet. While both of those tart go-tos are dinner party appropriate, the Crusta has the added appeal of a crystalline sugared rim. Skip the centerpiece and give everyone their own personal work of mixological art.

The Essentials

brandy
orange curaçao
lemon juice
Matthew Kelly/Supercall
It may not be Japanese, but this cocktail will give you the subtle, impressive air of a well-traveled host. An odd shaken combination of brandy, orgeat and bitters, the drink is sure to pique the interest of even the most educated cocktailians at the party and provide a nutty complement to hearty fare.

The Essentials

Cognac
orgeat
Angostura Bitters
Matthew Kelly/Supercall
It’s easy enough to mix up a few Old Fashioneds for yourself and a drinking partner, but if you’ve got a table full of guests to serve, you don’t want to deal with all that muddling. Instead, opt for that other great whiskey cocktail, which can easily be batched out ahead of time and stored in the freezer.

The Essentials

Whiskey
Sweet Vermouth
bitters
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The simple, elegant Negroni is a dinner party homerun. It’s hard to mess up, and it’s easy to win guests’ favor with the striking, bitter cocktail. But it could be fancier. Enter the Boulevardier, a rye-based Negroni variation whose name rolls off the tongue (booluh-var-dyey) as easily as the drink rolls down your throat. Please your guests palates, eyeballs and earballs with this becoming cocktail.

The Essentials

Rye
Campari
Sweet Vermouth
Matthew Kelly/Supercall
Spend more time talking to your guests than mixing drinks for them with this easily scaled-up and pre-batched cocktail. In fact, it was originally intended to be served by the punchbowl when it appeared in Harry Craddock’s 1930 Savoy Cocktail Book. On the other hand, if you prefer a more manicured approach, you can mix individual evocations of grand old Paris to order.

The Essentials

Brandy
Green Chartreuse
Lemon juice
Patrick Spears
Pull out a bottle of celebratory bubbly at a dinner party and people will automatically hold out their Champagne flutes. “Not so fast,” you’ll say, grabbing a Highball and mixing up an Airmail, the Caribbean counterpart to the French 75. It’s good to be unexpected.

The Essentials

Gold rum
Honey syrup
Champagne
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After the last fork has fallen and you’ve stuffed your guests on delicious noms, it’s time to break out the digestifs. While the category spans a range of spirits from sweet liqueurs to brandy, this scotch variation on a Manhattan is a perfect compromise—a little sweet, a little herbal, a lot boozy and wonderfully stomach settling.

The Essentials

Scotch
Sweet Vermouth
Bitters

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