On Bar Carts

mg_4698About a year ago, I was obsessed with getting a bar cart. It probably came from reading too many home design blogs and watching Mad Men, but I couldn't get the idea out of my mind. I scoured Craigslist for months, but since I didn't really want to spend more than $50 on a cart, that limited my options. After what seemed like ages of looking, almost ready to throw in the towel and give up the search, Ari found one at the 6th Avenue Flea Market for a mere $20. Naturally, I was overjoyed and couldn't wait to get it home and move all of the bottles of liquor out of the closet. I don't drink cocktails all that often, but when I do, I at least want them to look pretty. _MG_4701 Keep reading for a few styling tips and a roundup of bar carts!

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bar carts1/2/3/4/5/6/7/8

Styling:

  • I like arranging alcohol by height so that you can best see each label.
  • Add other cocktail-related items, such as shakers, fun straws, and books to mix up the visual impact.
  • If you don't have room for a bar cart (or don't want one), another great option is to create a bar area by putting all of your bottles on a tray and displaying them on a bookshelf or countertop.
  • I like to keep my glassware on the bottom shelf altogether, but if you have particularly pretty glasses that you want to display, put them out with the bottles.
  • A bar is something that can be built up over time -- don't feel like you need to go out and buy 20 different kinds of alcohol at once. I have been adding to this collection for a couple of years, and you can start with just a bottle of clear alcohol (such as vodka or gin), one bottle of dark (such as bourbon or whiskey), and some bitters (essential for Manhattans, Old-Fashioneds, etc.). If you have the money or inclination, you can also add something a little more unexpected -- such as St. Germain or Aperol, both of which can be used in a number of different cocktails.
  • Other things to have on hand, especially for parties: lemons, limes, club soda, tonic, vermouth, and of course, plenty of ice.

Super Bowl Roundup

I can't say that I've ever really been all that into the Super Bowl, but I can of course always get down with the food. This year, however, I will be actually watching the game (and, obviously, the Beyoncé half-time show) in addition to enjoying some delicious snacks. Ari is a die-hard 49ers fan (though perhaps "fan" is somewhat of an understatement) and he'll be in New Orleans for the game, which means I'll have to fend for myself here in New York. That said, if I were hosting a Super Bowl party, I pulled together a few recipes from my archives that I would make:

_MG_3583Chicken Lettuce Wraps

mg_2244Ricotta and Honey Crostini

_MG_2802Harvest Focaccia

_MG_1668Avocado and Corn Salsa

_MG_3691Turkey & Pork Ricotta Meatballs

And for something a little sweeter..._MG_3796

Lemon Bars, my go-to recipe for parties

_MG_2534Or this quick Orange-Olive Oil Cake, which is easily transportable.

What are you making for the Super Bowl? Are you rooting for either team? (Go Niners!)

Sunburst Lemon Bars

_MG_3777My mother brings these lemon bars to almost every party that I can remember, and they are inevitably a hit. They are certainly the best lemon bars I have ever had, and I have started to continue her tradition by bringing them to a holiday party in December. I think my favorite part is the tart lemon glaze, which gives them a really lovely brightness. I'm pretty sure these are originally from a copy of Sunset magazine circa 1991, but I can't be sure. In any case, they are classic. Be sure to use fresh-squeezed lemon juice for the best results._MG_3785 IMG_3792

 

 

_MG_3794

_MG_3796Sunburst Lemon Bars

For crust:

2 cups flour

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1 cup butter

For lemon custard:

4 eggs

2 cups sugar

1/4 cup flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/4 cup lemon juice

2-3 tablespoons lemon zest

For glaze:

1 cup powdered sugar

2-3 tablespoons lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine flour, powdered sugar, and butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer. Press evenly into a 13x9 roasting pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the edges are golden brown.

Meanwhile, blend eggs, sugar, flour, and baking powder in a medium bowl, then add lemon juice and zest. Mix until just combined, then pour over warm crust. Bake for 25-30 minutes until the top is a light golden brown. Cool in pan on rack for 20 minutes.

For glaze, combine powdered sugar and lemon juice in a small bowl and drizzle over cooled bars. Cut into squares and serve. These will keep overnight in the refrigerator.