The past couple of years have been unpredictable to say the least. But holiday entertaining entails traditions that leave many of us grappling to carry out to precision—we tend to get lost in the details. Is the table set to perfection? Are the hors d’oeuvres perfectly warmed, and is the turkey, currently roasting in the oven, timed to perfection? And lastly, but definitely not least important, are the cocktail accoutrements prepped to easily serve some flawless libations? There are so many questions and so little time—the holidays have a way of swiftly approaching.
With that in mind, tapped interior designer and entertaining specialist Patrick J. Hamilton, of Patrick James Hamilton Designs, to give us some tips on items to have on hand to create swoonworthy, festive concoctions. For a little background: Patrick has designed tablescapes for Waterford/Wedgwood, Michael C. Fina, Lenox, and 41 Madison to name a few—many of which have been featured in luxury shelter magazines. His previous room designs for well-known show houses Holiday House and Southern Style Now, exhibit just how adept he is at executing beautiful bar displays. But it’s his own at-home holiday tables and cocktails—brimming with his enviable talent as a host, which truly draws his legion of loyal followers. Whether it’s for an intimate dinner or a full-on holiday bash, he makes entertaining look easy. And the best way to enhance the atmosphere a gorgeous table creates? Jazzing up the bar offerings, of course. Enjoy his tips below.
“Holiday entertaining should be easy on everyone, so to me, it’s all about giving some of your bar staples a seasonal twist. I swap out the vodka in the freezer with a cranberry-infused variety for the season, and in the refrigerator, there’s cranberry juice. I’ve just discovered the joys of the all-juice variety, not the sweetened cranberry juice cocktail we’re all more familiar with. It’s worth the search and the cost, because it allows you to control the level of sweetness when you mix up a batch of Cosmos or Christmas martinis—holiday musts. I’m also totally Team Eggnog, so that becomes a fun-inducing November to December guest.
In addition to keeping the usual lemons and limes on hand, oranges are great, not so much for the juice, but for their fresh, aromatic peel. It’s surprisingly versatile. It’s perfect to adorn and enhance Aperol spritzes, Manhattans, Negronis, and Old-Fashioneds—celebratory staples. Furthermore, the last minute inclusion of orange oil can infuse your at-home happy hour with a festive, cocktail-lounge mood.
In the produce drawers, I recommend keeping fresh rosemary. It makes for a fragrant, eye-catching garnish. It also adds an unexpected woodsy flavor on the palate when muddled into simple syrup or even into maple syrup when used as a cocktail base. And always, always, have a lot of ice on hand! The clearer the better. Can you tell I’m the resident mixologist, and not the cook? Although I do hear fresh rosemary is also great for holiday cooking! Who knew?
A favorite non-bar related refrigeration tip: Keep your holiday taper candles in the refrigerator—it helps them burn slower and keeps the melting wax from running amok.” – Patrick J. Hamilton
Follow Patrick on Instagram: @patrickjhamiltondesigns
We’re taking Patrick’s advice to heart. For those interested in the produce drawers Patrick mentioned, aside from the usual drawers in our gorgeous array of full-size and undercounter units, we love our Undercounter Refrigerator and Freezer drawers for not only fruits and vegetables, but as a dedicated place to set up all bar-related items. It’s cocktail-making made easy! And you can’t have the perfect cocktail without our Clear Ice Machine—with a storage capacity of 28lbs and an ability to produce up to 85lbs of clear ice per day, there is no risk of running out. Happy Holidays!