Taste Test: Adrienne Bailon Rates Patron XO Cafe Dark Cocoa

Whether you’re hosting house parties or pre-gaming for fi st pumping, you’ll need to get your libation lounge in order before buzzing anyone up. Here’s how to transform your countertop into a budget-friendly mixology mecca. —Mike Dawson Leave the flip cups to keg heads and invest in a set of at least six of the same pieces of sip-ware. It’s not only cheaper to buy in bulk (see: Ikea, Target, Crate & Barrel), but it lets guests know it’s happy hour, not amateur hour. WINE Narrow or fat-bowled, size doesn’t matter. Pick one and use it for all vino, punches, mimosas, Bellinis and chilled summer potions. ROCK Break out these short, stout glasses for mixers, shots and slow-sippers like bourbon and scotch. Skip the snooty snifters and pour out a little brandy in them, too. CHAMPAGNE COCKTAIL Drunks who hit the fl oor quicker than Snooki are a danger to your digs. Save your sofa by swapping out flutes, martini saucers and margarita glasses for these solid, sophisticated soldiers. ESSENTIAL ELIXIRS YOU ALREADY KNOW YOU NEED MIXERS, GARNISHES AND STRONG SPIRITS (VODKA, TEQUILA, RUM, GIN AND SOME TYPE OF BROWN WATER*). BUT TO UP YOUR DRINKING DEN TO PRO STATUS, STOCK UP ON THE OTHER GUYS + SWEET VERMOUTH & DRY VERMOUTH Italian aperitifs essential for fl avoring scores of drinks | 1.5 oz. of Scotch; .25 oz. each of dry and sweet vermouth; Ice. Shake and top with lemon twist + KAHLUA For coffee pick-ups and the tasty Black Russian | Add 1.5 oz. of vodka and 1 oz. of Kahlua over ice and stir + BUBBLY IN THE FRIDGE Pop the top for special occasions | Sip it straight + C BY COURVOISIER For pre-pillow-talk nightcaps | Sip neat or with a single ice cube *Starter Bottles: Chopin Vodka ($30, 750 ML), Pucker Lemonade Vodka ($16, 750 ML), Jose Cuervo Reserva De Familia Tequila ($80, 750 ML), 10 Cane Rum ($25, 750 ML), Bulldog Gin ($30, 750 ML), Hudson Baby Bourbon, Tuthilltown ($22, 750 ML) THE HARDWARE METROKANE THE RABBIT ($60, target.com) Kramer-esque klutzes can thank this contraption for making de-corking dummy proof. There’s nothing better. L’EQUIP RPM BLENDER ($180, lequip.com) This easy-to-clean super stirrer spins its blades at 20K RPM. Translation: Frothy frozen margaritas in a dash. IMPRESSIONS CLEAR GLASS PITCHER ($16, crateandbarrel.com) Those scuffed plastic pitchers are only cool for Kool-Aid, not pouring out party punches. THE STAINLESS STEEL SHAKER ($24, williams-sonoma.com) This mixmaster is key to making bigger batches so you can spend more time schmoozing, less time shaking. LONG BAR SPOON ($12, williams-sonoma.com) Besides stirring up your shaker or pitcher, it’s essential for adding fl oaters to cocktails like the Dark N’ Stormy*. *Recipe: One part rum, two parts ginger beer, ice. Stir. Top off with dark rum fl oater by slowly drizzling a pour of the black booze over the spoon’s convex side (backside) and watch it hover atop the glass The Ultimate Bare-Cupboard Cocktail Short on supplies? Whip up a Cobbler. The recipe’s simple: Any fruit + any booze + any sweetener (Raspberries x Grey Goose x pancake syrup; Apples x Cognac x sugar). Smash the fruit in the bottom of the glass. Add sweetener and smash the homies again. Add more booze. If the drink’s too stiff, pile on more sweet stuff or a few drops of water for low-budget bliss. Adrienne Bailon Reacts: “It tastes like a really strong espresso. It’s got a kick to it, but I don’t taste the tequila. I drink what my guy friends call ‘bitch drinks’—piña coladas, Cîroc, very sweet drinks. So I prefer this to regular Patrón. If it’s caffeinated, then I really prefer it! I fall asleep anywhere.” Check out the “Empire Girl’s” taste test with VIBE below.