Introducing "Cocktails with Carolyn," a cocktail column aimed at helping you create the ultimate cocktail bar experience safely and socially-distanced at home. A self-taught home bar and cocktail enthusiast, Carolyn has years of experience creating drinks and curating her own bar and is here to share some of the tips and tricks she's learned along the way. In her first installment, get to know a bit about the girl behind the glass.

Article & Photos by @CarolinaVerbena

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“No amount of physical contact could match the healing powers of a well-made cocktail.” — David Sedaris

At no other time in my life has this quote resonated more. In a world grappling with the realities of a global pandemic, the once lighthearted request, “Want to go grab a drink?” at your favorite watering hole has become scarce to many of us. We are adjusting to life at a distance; shifting from once crowded and bustling happy hours with friends to more measured and planned get-togethers (or even virtual options), often leaving us to fend for ourselves in the drinks department. Always ready to rise to a challenge, however, I’ve taken this as an opportunity to get creative with what I have at home and make some inventive drinks along the way.

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(Pineapple Campari Spritz: Vodka, Pineapple-infused Campari, and club soda)

Hello! My name is Carolyn and I am a home bar enthusiast. In my journey to create a home bar, I’ve learned what works, what doesn’t, and what’s just useless gimmick (nuggets of knowledge I plan to share with you). My love of a well-appointed home bar likely stems from a number of sources, but at the top of the list is practicality. Craving a perfect margarita? Want to go out for drinks, but trying to stick to a budget? In the mood for a classic Manhattan in a dimly lit bar with jazz in the background? Have a hankering for brunch and bellinis, but don’t want to change out of your pajamas? The thoughtfully appointed home bar has got you covered.

When Allie asked me if I was interested in writing this series for Parched, I was initially hesitant. I’m not a professionally trained bartender. The extent of my service industry bartending experience is serving beers and whiskey off of a beverage cart at a golf course and slinging not-so-great beach drinks a few summers during college. But this series of articles is specific to the home bar. A place to mix up a drink and relax on your home turf. As I gave it some thought I realized I’m *exactly* the type of person who should write about a home bar! I’ve spent years cultivating my own personal bar into a functional and beautiful part of my home and lifestyle. I curate an Instagram account dedicated to all the cocktails I make and home. Plus, I’m great at drinking those cocktails at home (an expert some would say)!

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(Greyhound Rose: Vodka, Grapefruit juice, Rose syrup, and club soda)

Growing up, my parent’s house was the “party house” amongst their friends. Always hosting, they had a stockpile of supplies for any soirée. Watching them host shindigs of all sorts, from a few friends over for a casual “burgers and beer night” to 100-person parties with multiple drink options and a serve yourself style, made a lasting impression on me. I learned the importance of community, hospitality, and how rewarding it is to enjoy a good time with good friends. I also saw firsthand the importance of relaxing and making sure to enjoy yourself, even as a host. (Hint: there is a time and a place for a fancy egg white cocktail in your favorite crystal…it is not while hosting a hundred people for a St. Patrick’s Day party!) A bit of planning and preparation for your home bar will set you up for success whether you want to have friends over for a cocktail party or just watch Netflix alone with a good drink.

Over the next 4 articles, I will do my best to lay out the basics of what I believe to be the “essentials” for any home bar. I’ll talk about Glassware, Liquor Basics, Supporting Cast, and Tools/Mixers/Garnishes. To me, these are the four components to having a great home bar (and don’t worry, there are options to fit any budget). If you are just starting out and working from the ground up, I’ve got you. If you already have your set up and are looking to branch out a little, I hope this will help inspire you. And if you have a perfectly stocked bar at home with dozens of glassware choices and an endless selection of fun bottles, why are you still reading? Go mix up a drink!

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Carolyn is a self-taught home bar and cocktail enthusiast. She enjoys a drink on the porch in the evening and is a strong believer that you can never have too many glassware options. She is the creator and curator of @CarolinaVerbena, featuring the cocktails she mixes up at home with her husband and two cats. Carolyn lives in Atlanta, GA, but is a nomad at heart who loves to explore the world one sip (or bite) at a time.