How To Make Easy DIY Cocktails (No Bar Cart Required!)

Photographed by Erin Yamagata.
My Pinterest addiction is looking at perfectly curated bar carts for hours at a time. But in reality, I don’t have room in my apartment (or my bank account) for any of the bar accoutrements I covet online. In fact, my “bar cart” is a shelf in my freezer that has become inadvertently dedicated to booze. After spending too much time feeling inadequate, I decided to rebel against the idea of a traditional bar cart altogether, and instead, set up what I like to call the anti-bar cart bar cart. Seriously, I am no mixologist, but this impresses my friends every time and makes me feel like a real-life adult hostess with no actual barware required.

I know it sounds kind of weird at first, but it’s actually just an easy way to offer your friends customizable, DIY drinks with whatever happens your be in your personal bar cart freezer or cabinet at the moment. Here’s how to set up your very own anti-bar cart bar cart, in four totally uncomplicated steps.
1. Pick a space.
This can be a countertop, a part of a table where everyone is sitting, a side table, or even a bookshelf. Just clear some books off one of your shelves, replace with booze, and voilà.

2. Set it up.
Grab the booze from your freezer (I try to put out a couple of different alcohols, depending on what I have) and set out cups and ice near your anti-bar cart.

3. Add your mixers and garnishes
Here’s where the DIY cocktails come in. All you need are three simple items:
Juices: I like to keep a can or two of pineapple or mango juice stashed in my kitchen, but any juice will work just fine! 
Something bubbly: this can be a bottle of Prosecco or even a bottle of seltzer.
Fruit garnishes: Cut up a lemon or a lime into small wedges and leave out some berries that people can pop directly into their cups.

4. Step it up with simple syrup.
If you want to get really fancy (and by really fancy, I mean put in a little bit more effort), make a simple syrup or two to flavor the drinks. Simple syrup is just sugar that is dissolved in water so you can sweeten your cocktails without having to deal with sugar granules getting stuck at the bottom of your cup. Here's how to make it: 

Combine one part sugar with one part water (I usually start with a cup of water and a cup of sugar) in a pot. Bring to a boil, stir until the sugar is completely dissolved, and that’s it! Just let it cool before you serve.

For flavored syrups, add a small amount of the ingredient you want to use to the pot before you turn the heat on. For fresh herbs like mint and basil, add a handful; for dried ingredients (lavender is a fun one to try) or citrus zest, use a teaspoon or two. Let the ingredients steep in the pot while the simple syrup cools and then strain the mixture before using.       
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