Video and text contributions by AJ Thiede and Megan Rush

Bars aren’t always cheap, even during happy hour. Making drinks at home can be the cheaper option, and can be just as fun!

Happy Hour. Two words that bring joy to the end of a long workday. It’s a chance to relax and recharge with friends and coworkers. Every town has one. Yet at-home happy hours are all over Pinterest. What’s the deal?

Bartender Kailey Fucaloro from Wellman’s Pub in Des Moines has a few ideas. “The first main reason is it’s cost efficient,” Fucaloro says. “The markup of beer is high and the liquor ratio is even more.” And socializing at home with friends and family is simply more intimate than a crowded, noisy bar.

It sounds like something Urban Plains would like to try, but we are intimidated. When stocking your own bar, there’s a lot to think about. What drinks will you make? What alcohol do you need? And how much is this going to cost me?

Alcohol can be expensive, but Fucaloro says working on a budget can help you afford everything you need. She also suggests sticking with the versatile alcohols that are used in more drink recipes. “It depends on the quality you are looking for,” she says. “But unflavored vodka, standard tequila — white or gold — those are things that will appeal to everyone.”

With these thoughts in mind, we planned our own Happy Hour series. We need a few more varieties of alcohol to add to Fucaloro’s list, but aren’t sure what else we should include. Fucaloro shows us the way.

“Smell is a good indication if you like it or not,” she says. “Then sample it with common mixers.” We settle on rum, bourbon and gin.

We still need a few basic bar tools and supplies:

  • Jigger ($5-$10)
  • Shaker ($6-$15)
  • Bitter Set ($15-$40)
  • Simple syrup set ($15-$55)

But even those aren’t super expensive. So, after picking up our supplies and our booze, we set out to host the Urban Plains Happy Hour. Cheers!

Paloma Cocktail

Recipe

3 ounces of grapefruit juice

2 shots of silver tequila

½ shot of simple syrup  

1 ounce of club soda

1 lime

Ice

Mix grapefruit juice, tequila and syrup in a shaker. Pour over ice. Top off with club soda and garnish with lime slice

Apple Cider Moscow Mule

Recipe

4 ounces of ginger beer

4 ounces of apple juice

1 ounce of vodka

½ ounce of lime juice

Ice

One lime

Mix beer, apple juice, vodka and lime juice in copper cup. Add ice and garnish with lime slice.

Mojito

Recipe

1 ounce of fresh lime juice

2 teaspoons of raw sugar

5-12 mint leaves

2 ounces of white rum

1 ounce of club soda

Ice

Add lime juice to glass. Mix in raw sugar until dissolved. Add 5-12 mint leaves by ripping them into the glass. Pour in white rum and club soda. Top off with ice

Honey Bourbon Old Fashioned

Recipe

fresh orange

1.5 ounces of bourbon

1 teaspoon of honey

3 dashes of bitters

ice

Cut a peel off the orange and rub around the glass. Keep peel in glass. Add bourbon, honey and bitters. Mix and add ice.

Cucumber Gin Cooler

Recipe

4 ounces of gin

1 ounce of lime juice

1-2 ounces of club soda

Fresh cucumber

Ice

Pour gin in shaker. Add juice and soda. Shake well. Pour into glass and add ice. Cut up cucumber into thin slices. Add some in the glass and garnish.