Hosting a New Year's party should be a great experience. But sometimes, being in charge of the fun is anything but.
As a sommelier and proprietor of a boutique wine, spirits and craft beer shop in Montclair, NJ, there are three things I've found that hosts stress over most: What should I serve? How much should I buy? And how do I keep my guests from drinking too much?
Take five and chill! This year, you're going to get it right.
"Spirited" Tips for the Ultimate Holiday Party
1. Serve What You Like
Don't worry about what so-and-so drinks or doesn't. You don't need to stock your bar with every kind of spirit under the sun or make sure you've got pinot noir, merlot and cabernet.
As the host, you get to call the shots. Serve crowd-pleasing wines that appeal to you. Or pick a theme for your party and create a signature cocktail -- still a huge trend going into 2015.
Choose a drink you can prepare in large batches ahead of time so you can spend the evening mingling rather than playing mixologist. Try the Stone Fence, a 1700s classic with rye, fresh lemon juice, apple cider and bitters, or our riff on a Negroni Sbagliato, the Amanti "Neargroni," with Campari, vermouth, cava and gin.
Another great idea? Nothing says, "welcome to my party," like being greeted at the door with a glass of sparkling wine.
Quick tip: Big bottles, like magnums, are fun, leaving you fewer bottles to open.
2. How Much Is Enough?
Running out of wine or beer is an embarrassment you don't need. Once you know how many guests are coming, it's easy to calculate how much you should purchase: Figure on each person having two drinks the first hour and one each additional hour.
How far each bottle of wine will go depends on who's doing the pouring. If guests are pouring for themselves, you'll likely get four glasses of wine per bottle. With a professional tending bar, expect six 4 oz. pours per bottle.
Quick tip: You can also make life easier by choosing screw-top bottles; no shame in that!
3. Water, Water Everywhere!
Your guests will appreciate all the thought you put into your party. But a refreshing glass of ice water is often the most welcome drink of all.
Water will also help guests from overdoing it. You've got to let folks hydrate. Place pitchers or bottles where they are easily accessible and in more than one spot.
Quick tip: Encourage your guests to use a ride sharing service, such as Uber, for a safe ride home.
Cheers! You're going to have an awesome -- headache-free -- celebration this year. Finally.