Mariel here. While a hereditary propensity for hideous hangovers has turned me into a thirty-something teetotaler, I do like to salute the end of the day with a frosty glass of Chateau St Jean, the oakiest, most delicious $9 Chardonnay on the entire planet. But that’s it. That’s really all we’re stocked with at Chez Feast…lots of cheap wine. Come on over!
I feel like real adults have real liquor cabinets, or at least pretty bar carts adorned with fresh-cut flowers and trinkets that aren’t Legos. One of my bestest buds has this beautiful bar cart from Ballard, it’s dressed up with fancy liquor bottles, 60’s-style tortoisehell low-balls, and actual glass decanters. She also has a toddler who has entered into some sort of mysterious pact promising never to touch any of it, despite its prominence in the living room. On the other hand, every single time my son is over there – which is kind of a lot – he heads straight for the lower shelf, grabs one of the decanter’s tops and hucks it around like a baseball. It’s not at all mortifying.
I’m not sure what about the above scenario makes me want to have a bar, but it does. In my own home, the obvious spot to set up some spirits is the sideboard in our dining room, that is, until I can invest in a proper corner cabinet (like this one). This lovely bamboo ladder could also do the trick, though I fear my son would try to scale it. He’s obsessed with “la-las,” and never fails to point one out.
In the meantime, I can assemble the “guts” of a starter bar using some of my favorite home sites like Layla Grace, Zinc Door, Red Envelope’s Bar Gifts and Jamali Garden. I plan to arrange it all on an oversized tray. Oh, and I’ll be purchasing this instant wine chiller immediately so I never have to dilute my sweet, lukewarm CSJ with ice cubes again, which is the way my mom does it.
SHOP THE BAR CART: 1. Regina Andrew Bone & Brass Tray, $248 / 2. Hootch-Owl Cocktail Picks, $14.99 / 3. Fez Cut Gold Leaf Glass Decanter, Set of 2, $84 / 4. Zweisel Tritan Burgundy Stemware, Set of 4, $49.95 / 5. Cypress Topiary, $15 and Antique Copper Votives, Set of 6, $15 / 6. Leather Wine Bucket, $149.95 / 7. Instant Wine Chiller, $49.95 / 8. Corkscrew & Foil Cutter, $34.95
I’d likely also add a blue and white chinoiserie vase as well, since I’m obsessed and they already litter my household. There are terrific ones to be found on Etsy.com for an absolute steal, like this trio of bud vases for $12.
And if you’re in the mood for something more wintry than a plain-old glass of vino, check out my mom’s delicious mulled wine, which will warm you right to your frozen core.
Wintry Mulled Wine
Note: Do not cook the wine in an aluminum pot since the alcohol can react with the aluminum, causing a metallic taste. Use a stainless steel or ceramic glazed pot – even Teflon will do.
For a large gathering, triple or quadruple this recipe and serve, re-warmed from a punch bowl.
4 cups Merlot or other dry red wine – $9.00
5 Tablespoons honey – stock
1 large orange – $0.75
2 cinnamon sticks, broken in half – stock
½ Tablespoon pickling spice (this is a prepackaged blend of spices including allspice, bay leaves, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, ginger, mustard seeds and peppercorns), you can individually adjust according to your preferences. Alternatively, simply use 6 whole cloves if that’s what’s in your spice rack – stock
¼ to ½ cup port, brandy, or cognac – optional
Grand Total Assuming Well-Stocked Pantry: $9.75
Total Per Serving:$2.43
1. Using a vegetable peeler, carefully remove the peel (in strips/pieces) from the orange. Try to only get peel and avoid the thick-white, bitter pith. If there is any pith clinging to the peel, simply scrape it off.
2. Cut the same orange in half and squeeze out all of its juice. Set aside.
3. Using a heavy sauce pot (not aluminum), combine the wine, orange peel and orange juice, honey, cinnamon, and pickling spices. Add the port, brandy, or cognac if using.
4. Over medium flame, bring the brew to ALMOST – but not quite – a simmer. There will be curls of wispy steam emanating from the surface.
5. Reduce the flame to low and continue cooking the wine for about 10 minutes, but again, do not bring it to a simmer – it should continue to emit those curls of steam. This allows the flavors to blend.
6. Strain the Mulled Wine into 8 ounce mugs and serve warm.