Photograph by Darren Braun
The icebox gets hit every few minutes at a summer party, yet most hosts are fine with a plastic Igloo faded to a dirty pink that groans each time you open it. My 54-quart Coleman stainless steel belted cooler not only has winning good looks but keeps its contents so chilled that I can go outside and retrieve an icy Negra Modelo three days after the party’s over. Koontz Hardware (8914 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood, 310-652-0123) carries them for $189.99. It’s worth the investment. As for what to put inside, I don’t like inundating my guests with a dozen beer options but limit them to two—one golden, one dark. The brands should be familiar, though not overly so. Remember, this is easier on you and imposes a thematic unity on the festivities. Stick to a continually refreshed pitcher of one cocktail, preferably from the holy summer trinity of margarita, mojito, and mai tai.
Where to find the best deals on Ketel One, Bacardi Gold, and Patro´n Silver? We priced the same alcohol at 14 liquor stores in L.A. County. The winners were clear: BevMo! (for locations go to bevmo.com), Wine and Liquor Depot (16938 Saticoy St., Van Nuys, 818-996-1414), and K&L Wine Merchants (1400 Vine St., Hollywood, 323- 464-WINE).
No cruddy convenience store cubes here. The North Hollywood Ice Co. (5257 Craner Ave., North Hollywood, 818-762-2237) has been chillin’ crystal-clear water to the freezing point since 1929, and it even delivers. A minimum order of six 50-pound bags costs $60, plus $20 for delivery.
Cream sodas, sarsaparillas, ginger beers. Galco’s Soda Pop Stop (5702 York Blvd., Highland Park, 323-255-7115) has more than 450 oddball beverages to choose from, which will guarantee any teetotaling guest a good time.