Cocktails, Mocktails, and More: How to Set Up Your Home Bar

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Setting up a home bar is easier than you may think and offers a great opportunity to get creative in the kitchen and revamp your home décor. A home bar is also a must for entertaining guests. So what are you waiting for? Follow this simple guide, and get started on creating your own home bar today. Cheers!

Where to Put It

The first item to tackle when setting up a home bar is to invest in a storage system to store and additionally show off your impending alcohol collection and essential tools. Depending on how ambitious you are in setting up a home bar, this can range from a simple bookshelf with a few key items and bottles of alcohol to a fully stocked console unit, fit for hosting events of Great Gatsby grandeur. Another great option is a bar cart, which can be conveniently moved around.

Buy the Basic Tools

It only takes a few simple tools to get your bar up and running. You can find these tools at kitchen stores, flea markets, or antique shops. Be sure to have the following tools on hand: bar spoon, corkscrew, muddler, jigger, cocktail shaker, and strainer. The convenience of these tools will become self-evident as you get started, but for some of the less self-explanatory terms, a jigger is a convenient tool for measuring 1 to 2 oz. volumes and a muddler is a pestle-like tool that is used to “muddle” fresh ingredients and spices in the bottom of a glass in order to release full flavor into your drinks.

Recipes and Alcohol

Invest in a few base spirits and a few mixers and let your imagination run wild! If you’re not sure where to start, borrow a cocktail book from the library or try new drinks at your local bar to find out what you might enjoy making. Arguably, Jerry Thomas’ Bartenders Guide: How to Mix Drinks is the most famous bartending and cocktail book of all time and a great place for any budding enthusiast to start.

The simplest of bars are stocked with a few base liquors, convenient mixers, and bitters. If you’re just setting up your home bar start small and slowly grow your stock of alcohol. A good place to start is with one of each essential: gin, bourbon, whiskey, scotch whiskey, tequila, white rum, and dark rum. Ultimately, buy what you like to drink and don’t feel you have to go top shelf!  Remember, it’s your bar!

Extras and Garnishes

The most common mixers are tonic, ginger beer, and fresh juice. Fresh juice is also key for creating stunning mocktails to cater to guests and family members who don’t drink. Keep these on hand and don’t forget garnishes. No matter the cocktails you prefer, the fresher the ingredients the better. It’s also handy to keep fresh herbs such as mint or basil on hand. Try growing some in your home garden!

Storing Liquor

The beauty of a home bar is that it is fairly easy to maintain because alcohol can often keep indefinitely. Store your liquor in a cool dry place away from direct sunlight.
A good rule of thumb is to consume liquor with a lower liquid level first, as air in the bottle will leach out flavor.

Storing Wine

Vermouth, both sweet and dry, is great to have on hand for any home bar, but
is actually a wine. Vermouth, along with all your other wines, is best stored in a controlled unit. Consider a wine cooler like the Wine Storage System by Miele, which stores up to 102 bottles in attractive wood shelves and makes controlling the temperature extremely easy with simple controls.

Setting up a home bar is not only a great way to get creative with the drinks you make, but also offers opportunities to play with the décor and design of your kitchen. H&H Appliance Center offers endless options to not only build out your dream kitchen, but also has the latest appliances for improving the efficiency of your kitchen. Visit us at our showroom today to speak to an expert!

The Path To A More Sustainable Kitchen

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From remodeling to everyday usage adjustments, there are many avenues one can take to build a more sustainable kitchen. And going green — besides being environmentally friendly — can significantly lower the energy costs of your home.

As we’ve explained before,  investing in energy efficient appliances can make a large impact on the $130 billion of wasted energy every year. Along with energy efficiency there are other habits one can adopt to increase sustainability, like composting or setting up an herb garden. Efforts that you take to promote a sustainable lifestyle, such as the ones described below, will greatly improve not only the quality of your life, but the quality of the earth.

Indoor Herb Garden

Investing in a simple herb garden is a win for the environment, your budget, and your cooking. Herbs are an easy way to introduce more vegetation and flavor into your diet and are a gateway into gardening. Growing your own produce and supporting local famers lessens the energy expended from grocery stores shipping fruits and vegetables around the world.

To start a basic herb garden, find a place near a kitchen window that gets at least six hours of daily sunlight. You can use small starter plants from a gardening center or germinate seeds yourself by wrapping seeds in wet paper towel and storing in a clear plastic bag in direct sunlight. Get creative by using decorative planters and start your herb collection with frequently used ingredients like cilantro, parsley, and basil. Be sure to water your herbs regularly, at least an inch of water a week. Another option for growing herbs indoors is to invest in an Urban Cultivator, an indoor herb refrigerator that allows herbs, microgreens, and vegetables to flourish right in your kitchen.

As you get more comfortable growing herbs and incorporating them into your daily cooking, you can expand into growing different types of herbs and maybe even start to build a garden in the backyard to grow all your favorite fruits and vegetables.

Compost

Composting is another easy way to cut down on waste and support your budding herb garden. The average American family throws away 14% of food purchases every year, which translates to $600 of wasted food. One simple method of composting is to dig a small hole in the dirt of your garden and cover food scraps. Similarly, food waste can be combated by conventional composting in a simple heap or garbage can in your backyard.

Keep the compost bin on soil so microorganisms can help break down the waste. Similarly balance kitchen waste with dry materials like cardboard and leaves. As matter begins to decompose, check the base, dig out rotted material, and add water or more dry bulky material if your compost pile seems too wet or dry.

Conserve Water

Cutting down on water usage in the kitchen can help abate water shortage problems and contribute to a more sustainable kitchen. Even changes to your daily lifestyle can help save water. For instance, wash vegetables and fruits in a large bowl and scrub them with a vegetable brush instead of using your faucet as a power washer. Likewise install a low-flow faucet on your sink. While conventional faucets flow at around 5 gallons a minute, low-flow faucets flow at 1.5 gallons per minute, saving significant water.

Similarly, you can save water and conserve energy by investing in appliances such as the Energy Star-qualified Classic Plus Dishwasher by Miele. Energy Star dishwashers are quieter and 15% more efficient than standard models. The Classic Plus Dishwasher has a variety of wash presets to make your dishes sparkle and has an express setting to get the job done fast, all without sacrificing a drop of water.

Want to learn more about creating a sustainable kitchen? Contact H&H Appliance Center today at (609) 426-1111 to learn more, or visit our showroom.

 

St. Patrick’s Day Guide

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Whether or not you’re Irish, St. Patrick’s Day is a fun holiday for the whole family to enjoy, as well as an opportunity to show off your skills in the kitchen. Adults can relax with traditional whiskey and corned beef, while kids will delight over the yearly mischief and magic of leprechauns. However you choose to celebrate, St. Patrick’s Day is the perfect opportunity to bond over a delicious feast.

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End of Winter Dinner Recipes

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With winter chills still abound, staying warm is a top priority until springtime finally rolls around. These recipes will make use of your leftover winter veggies and draw out the last of winter’s scrumptious bites before the season comes to a close. Generous on leftovers, these family-style meals will be a seasoned dinner delight right up till the start of spring.

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Save money and the planet with these energy tips

Peace on earth can be gained through more than just good tidings this winter. Collectively, the lack of energy efficiency in the United States wastes an estimated $130 billion dollars every year. As a homeowner, doing your small part to become more energy efficient can make a big difference—both for your wallet and for the planet. By taking mindful steps towards lifestyle habits that are energy efficient, you can take control of your energy savings.

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This holiday season, give yourself the gift of time

Frigidaire freezers offer organizational solutions you can customize to fit your needs, like SpaceWise® Adjustable Dividers and SpaceWise® Adjustable Baskets with color-coordinated clips. Plus, Frigidaire freezers are now available in "Classic Slate," a new modern color so it can work anywhere in your hom

Frigidaire freezers offer organizational solutions you can customize to fit your needs, like SpaceWise® Adjustable Dividers and SpaceWise® Adjustable Baskets with color-coordinated clips. Plus, Frigidaire freezers are now available in “Classic Slate,” a new modern color so it can work anywhere in your hom

The holidays can be a whirlwind of last minute shopping and unexpected visitors. By organizing your time and preparing in advance for the season, you can spend more time doing what really counts: spending quality time with friends and loved ones.

Here are a few tips to achieve exactly that:

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Game Plan for a Stress-free Thanksgiving

A variety of Electrolux ranges feature the exclusive Perfect Turkey® Button, which precisely times your convection roast for turkey that is perfectly done--crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside.

A variety of Electrolux ranges feature the exclusive Perfect Turkey® Button, which precisely times your convection roast for turkey that is perfectly done–crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside.

This Thanksgiving, let’s celebrate what we all can bring to the table. Whether you’re picturing a simple and intimate dinner, or a banquet worthy of a Norman Rockwell painting, planning ahead is the best way to guarantee an enjoyable meal. To help you seize the season, here are some last minute hints that will ensure your Thanksgiving is perfect.

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Your New Favorite Fall Recipes

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Autumn’s abbreviated days and cool temps offer the perfect excuse to retreat indoors for relaxing days and nights. And what better way to make the most of the season than by treating yourself and your family to delectable dishes that delight the palate and warm the soul? The bounties of fall are perfect for hearty, comforting meals that are sure to please.

Tried-and-true fall favorites like pumpkin pie and squash soup are mainstaysin kitchens all over. But this year, try something a little different. Mixing
things up a bit brings new excitement to the kitchen and smiles to the faces of your loved ones.

There’s no better way to keep the winter doldrums from creeping in than by taking advantage of all the flavors fall has to offer!

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Here are a handful of ideas to get you started:

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Outdoor Kitchen Appliances: What You Need To Know

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Picture the scene: you are visiting an old friend you met in college who recently moved to the area. The new house they bought is roomy, the kitchen is updated, and there’s even a basement. You’re impressed. You step into the backyard, only to find an outdoor sanctuary – which he calls, the “outdoor kitchen”  that came with the house. You see a built-in stainless grill that can easily accommodate twenty guests at one time, an outdoor ice maker, beverage center, functional sink, and wait – is that a dishwasher? All of these items are accompanied by a nearby pergola hosting a seating area with an outdoor television.

We are commonly finding the outdoor segment of our business to grow, and we encourage clients who like to cook to consider an outdoor kitchen over traditional areas such as back decks or pools. Outdoor kitchens can add value to your home while creating a space that is both functional and aesthetically beautiful. But where to begin?

Although H&H does not sell fixtures, outdoor surfaces, or displays for outdoor appliances, we can provide you with the tools you need to know when buying outdoor appliances. Our initial piece of advice: what will you be doing outdoors? Is this area for cooking or relaxing (or both)? How many do people would you like to accommodate in this space?

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Answer these questions before making any appliance decisions. Once these factors are considered, then you can choose the appliances to fit your needs. Here are some additional factors to thinking about concerning appliances:

  • If budget is a concern, ask if older floor models can work. Since the products are built to be used outdoors, wear is acceptable and using floor models may free funds to build additional details into the space (such as an outdoor refrigeration unit like this one from Perlick).
  • Pick one focal point. Is this the grill? Or the prep area? The awning? The television? Picking more than one focal area can cause designs to become busy and cluttered.
  • Remember that not everything is built to last. Even if buying an outdoor television, you may only get five years out of the unit. Grills and appliances are expected to last much longer, typically 10+ years if maintained properly.
  • Decide whether you want a covered or uncovered space. Choose surfaces that are aligned with weather conditions of your area and the elements of exposure the kitchen will endure.
  • Ensure you have the proper amount of space for what you would like to do. Often outdoor kitchens take a large amount of space and can make the backyard seem smaller. If you like a spacious green area, go smaller with the outdoor kitchen.

Now, about the appliances. When planning an outdoor kitchen, here is what we suggest for appliances:

1. An outdoor grill. Here are some suggestions by Dacor, Weber, AlfrescoWolf, and Lynx.

2. An outdoor ice maker (DCS makes a nice unit).

3. An outdoor refrigeration unit (like this countertop refrigeration unit by Alfresco).

4. An outdoor dishwasher (optional, adds a bit of pizzazz).

5. A warming drawer (Wolf product link). Although seemingly insignificant, if you cook for larger parties, the warming drawer can keep your food warm and fresh throughout the entire day.

6. A bartending center, like the one below from Alfresco (product link). Because we all know that with the outdoor kitchen come daiquiri’s, mojito’s, and pina coladas!

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Once you choose the appliances to fulfill your needs, you will be ready to begin your design. Below are from a customer’s outdoor kitchen area once finished. Thank you to Anthony Porzio from AMP Electric for the photos!

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