2009 Host's Guide to Fine Wines, Spirits, and Entertaining

    Easing the Party Pang
    Other than the organization of a state visit to China, no more delicate diplomatic dance exists than that performed by the host of a formal event during the busiest time of the year. A date and time must be set and a guest list compiled, then edited, with an eye toward separating the extroverts from the introverts, the wits from the nitwits, and the walkers (that is, escorts) from those who require walkers to scale the front steps. And these tasks are merely preliminaries. Florists and caterers must be retained, musicians engaged, and so on—all before one begins the real work of meeting and greeting, wining and dining, and finally herding guests home when the party ends. To ease the burdens of entertaining, we have assembled this modest tome, our 2009 Host’s Guide, which is designed to help party-plagued readers select the finest wines and spirits. Our list of 100 wines details our favorite recent releases—superb reds and whites for gift-giving, fine dining, and casual sipping—and our list of spirits is distilled down to the best of class. In addition, we present six special cocktails, concocted by six of the nation’s most creative bartenders, to enliven the home bar. Finally, we offer stylish tabletop ideas from several top designers and some thoughts on the artful invitation.

    100 Perfect Pours
    Treasures of the vine.

    Spirited Diversions
    A celebration of gifts from the still.

    Setting Pretty
    Five interior designers set the table.

    The Art of the Invitation
    Saying ‘‘Please join us" rel="nofollow" in style.

    The new Scotch comes from one of Scotland’s oldest and smallest distilleries…
    The cigar uses a mixture of new and aged tobaccos to achieve a serenely mellow flavor…
    The iconic Kentucky bourbon makes a comeback…
    The multi-vintage Champagne is a blend of 142 wines from 11 different years…
    Photograph courtesy of hotel Matlali
    Savored rather than shot, these tequila-based beverages give the spirit the respect it deserves…
    Photo by Holly Houk
    Contrary to popular opinion, not all Havanas are stellar stogies. Here is how to make the most of...
    Sommeliers have their own version of the desert-island question: If you could drink from only one...
    These aged tequilas prove that the once derided spirit has come into its own…
    The limited-edition distillation pays tribute to the Norse god Odin…
    The spirit distinguishes itself by employing Japanese ingredients and techniques…