The best hosts know that a new season of parties commands a fresh crop of festive must-haves. From at-home necessities for concocting a batch of brew to stylish accessories for serving and sipping, drink in these choices and make confident plans for a sweet soiree.
BREWED BY YOU
Start off the season with a lesson or two in do-it-yourself brewing. Local shops make this seemingly complicated process into a fun hobby with all the supplies a newcomer needs.
At Learn to Brew, 2307 Interstate 35 Service Road in Moore, beginning brewer kits start around $75 and include the equipment to produce five gallons of beer (ingredients start at $17). Upgraded parts like carboys (large glass containers), buckets, pumps, straining bags, testing equipment, stainless steel kettles and a professional-grade conical fermentation vessels are available to accommodate more advanced brewers.
"The general idea is that the more equipment one has to brew with, the easier it is to brew more often," said Chris Milum, owner and brewmaster at Learn to Brew.
In addition to a host of beer-centered supplies, Learn to Brew also carries winemaking starter kits ($70 and up). The DIY-wine systems include the equipment to make six gallons of homemade wine with available ingredient kits that include everything from Cabernet Sauvignon and Riesling to Merlot and Shiraz.
The store also sells more than 200 kegerator systems that can dispense home brew, commercial draft beer or wine and Champagne. Flavorful fruit and wine mixes, instructional DVDs and personalized signs for the homespun bartender round out the wide variety of Learn to Brew's available products.
SAUCED WITH STYLE
At Blue 7, 7518 N. May, the experts in hipster-chic keep entertaining cool with a range of fun party goods that put plastic cups and swizzle sticks to shame. Fill glasses with a range of tasty Wine-a-Ritas from Wine Glacé. Drink mix flavors like CosmoRita and peach Bellini are made to be blended with ice and Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio or sparkling wine. The result is a wine-infused frozen treat that will have party guests speaking in tongues.
Running low on glasses? Improvise with a bowl full of apples and a handy gadget called the ShotCarver. Made by Lushlife, the ShotCarver spins formerly-good-for-you fruit into a natural shot glass. Everything from apples to peaches can be transformed into vessels of sin, and the ShotCarver can even be used on a watermelon to create an ideal access point for full-bottle infusion.
On-the-go party hoppers will appreciate the convenience of the Dress to Chill party ring. Just under 10 bucks and helpful as all get out, this finger bling doesn't boast diamonds, but an oh-so-convenient bottle opener. Directions suggest to wear on the middle digit, so warn pals not to be insulted when you offer single-fingered assistance.
Pair your portable bottle-cap buster with a spirited flask from Pylones. Known as the Prohibition Busters, the stainless steel flasks come in a variety of brightly colored designs, and the compact size makes it easy to transport a personal supply of your favorite juice.
Elegant affairs demand equally upscale party accessories. Find the glam for your get-together at Paper Lion, 3218 S. Boulevard in Edmond. In addition to a well-stocked supply of gorgeous glassware, the eclectic boutique keeps a large selection of various entertaining elements with an eye on wine.
A lovely bottle stopper is a thoughtful gift for a gracious host, and here you'll find a posse of possibilities. Look for Millefiore Murano glass stoppers from Two's Company as well as crystal, pearl shell, and etched initial choices. The sleek chrome Royal Bottle Stopper from Cork Pops is an especially innovative option with an airtight seal that allows bottles to be stored spill-free on their sides.
Start the party in swift form with a simple-to-use wine opener that will keep uncorking fumbles to a minimum. Billed as the "fastest and easiest way to open a bottle of wine," the Cork Pops wine bottle opener was created 22 years ago in a California garage. The still-popular wine tool uses a low-pressure cartridge to gently remove the cork from the bottle without affecting the taste. Each cartridge opens around 60-80 bottles, and refill cartridges are sold in-store.
Handing off a bottle of wine or Champagne? Make it a posh presentation piece with a Scout wine bag from Bungalow & Co. The reusable, tree-friendly bag is water resistant and collapsible, with reinforced riveted handles that can take on the most hefty of bottles. Plus, the lively pattern puts a brown paper bag to shame. "Andrea Miller