Getting your place together with an eye to entertaining can shake up how you go about it. For example, for years I've scattered liquor and aperatif bottles along with their appropriate (more or less) glassware across various and sundry cabinets, bookshelves, and even a few less dignified spots (i.e., cardboard boxes shoved under the bed). On top of that, I never had the right number of tumblers for all, a fact usually only brought into clear focus when the guests arrived. Now I've got a liquor cabinet.
Welcoming and Organized
Nothing says "hi" more warmly than the words "Can I get you something to drink?" accompanied by a short walk to the liquor cabinet. In addition to establishing a party vibe, it can keep you, the host, more organized. By putting all the libation paraphernalia in one place (alcoholic or not), the drinks and party flow more easily with fewer last minute trips to Crate & Barrel for hi-balls, or the over-priced package store on the corner for Cinzano.
Route the Traffic
In addition to being an invaluable organizing tool, the liquor cabinet in the dining area establishes a beachhead that helps you conquer the greatest foe to party flow: kitchen stickiness. Instead of congregating around your cutting board, guests will naturally migrate to the rest of the floor plan--a key to your sanity as you get the meal or appetizers together.
The Style Angle
If you follow the philosophy, as I do, to never let an opportunity for accessorizing go untapped, you need a liquor cabinet. It's the perfect spot to express your inner ring-a-ding-dinger, so go ahead and get an ice bucket, a silvery tray, and maybe even some quirky red tag sale glassware. No one judges the liquor cabinet accessories.
A well stocked liquor cabinet doesn't need to cost a bundle, or require 20 bottles with exotic varieties. Here's a list of basics that will cover almost every one's taste and budget.
1. Get yourself an inexpensive vodka. Most people will not be able to tell the difference when mixed. If you're sensitive about leaving plastic bottles lying around, decant.
2. A reasonably good gin. Unlike vodka, you can really tell the difference. I like Tanquerey and Bombay Saphire for their quality and relatively reasonable price. There are better gins, but you won't be sorry, either.
3. You need some whiskey. There are some great bourbons such as Evan Williams Single Barrel, but I always keep Knob Creek on hand. It's solid, tried and true...and frankly, not that many people drink it straight so you only need a small bottle to start. If you get into it, there's a whole world of bourbon to explore.
4. Sippin' Tequila...get a good one.
5. Margarita Tequila like Cuervo. When it's mixed with all of the citrus and sugar and salt, there's so much going on that the tequila won't play a leading role.
6. Some silver rum for Mojitos.
7. You also need a few condiments: Angustura bitters for whiskey drinks, triple sec for sprinkling on berries and putting in Margaritas, and some white vermouth for martinis and pan sauces (yum).
8. You also need some basic equipment: a cocktail shaker, a few tumblers, and a shot glass for measuring. Pretty much everything else can be improvised.