The entry fee to a house party is pretty standard: a six-pack of beer or a bottle of wine (which explains why sometimes you end parties with five more bottles of mediocre Merlot than you started with).
But if you're looking to step up your party game, don't just grab whatever vaguely craft-looking beer is at the corner store. Grabbing a few bottles that together make a zero-effort yet foolproof cocktail will show off your booze cred and up the quality of drink at the party at the same time. No mixing, no shaking, just pour and go.
And if you really want to be a hero don't forget the cups and ice. Just about every party runs out at some point, and there's nothing sadder than watching someone sip warm gin out of a coffee mug.
St-Germain & Prosecco
Together these two are a little sweet, a little fruity-floral and classy all the way. St-Germain is a bit cloying on its own. I've seen people do shots of it, which I find both mystifying and unforgivable. But cover it in bubbles, and you've got a lively, sparkly drink that shows off its floral complexity just right (and the bottle definitely has a sexy "what's that?" factor when you proudly drop it on the table).
Whiskey & Ginger
Okay, you don't need me to tell you how to make a Jack and Coke. But you can go a lot further with mixers than just Coke and Sprite. Bring a good ginger ale or better yet, ginger beer. It will pair with any whiskey. Alternatively, apple cider (fresh, sparkling or hard) and bourbon pair exceptionally well together.
Grapefruit Soda & Tequila
Tequila and grapefruit soda isn't just a great idea—it's a Mexican classic, called a Paloma. There's no need to mess around with fresh juices here; a two-liter of Fresca or Squirt, a decent silver tequila, and you've got a cocktail.
Campari or Aperol & Something Bubbly
You are my kind of girl, I thought recently when I saw a colleague stride into a party with a bottle of Campari and a two-liter of soda water. Party wines can be iffy, but bittersweet Campari served chilled with a splash of soda on top is a safe bet. Also safe: the Aperol Spritz—just Aperol, prosecco and seltzer. Bonus points: Bring an orange to slice up and use as a garnish.
Tonic & Almost Anything
A good tonic water, like Fever Tree, instantly upgrades any party. And there's a lot you can mix with tonic beyond gin. If you want to play it safe you can use tequila, but if you want to blow everyone away bring an orange liqueur like Curaçao or an herbal one like Chartreuse.