I’ve been really into the idea of enhancing my entertaining skills recently. My mom is an excellent host, always coming up with the most clever and fun food and drink recipes – a skill of her’s I hope to harness fully one day! With that being said, today I’m teaming up with Fine Wine and Good Spirits to give you some entertaining advice for your next summer get-together!
You don’t have to be a master mixologist to kick back and relax with friends. Pop a few corks, mix up a batch of drinks, put out some simple finger foods, and you’ve got yourself a low-key happy hour without having to elbow your way through a crowded bar. The beauty of at-home entertaining is the room for personalization, especially if your guests have special dietary restrictions. Below are some tips and tricks designed to help you have a happier hour at home.
Keep it Simple – Stick with classic cocktails that will be guaranteed crowd-pleasers. These recipes are quick and easy, convenient for big batches that will be ready for your guests upon arrival.
- Manhattan: Whiskey, bitters and vermouth.
- Old Fashioned: Whiskey, bitters and sugar.
- Negroni: Campari, gin and vermouth.
Stock Up on Must-Have Mixers – These kitchen staples are almost as essential to happy hour as spirits.
- Fresh Citrus: Fruits such as grapefruits and limes are affordable and pair well with clear spirits. Added bonus: a peel or wheel makes a great garnish and ups the “wow factor” with virtually no effort.
- Cranberry Juice: Cranberry juice serves as a nice tart counterpart to a variety of liquors.
- Soda Water or Tonic: The effervescence in these mixers can lighten up a drink.
- Ginger Beer: Not just for Moscow Mules! Ginger beer is the perfect complement to almost any spirit, including vodka, bourbon, tequila and rum.
Don’t Forget About Wine-Lovers – Wine can be just as versatile as spirits when it comes to cocktail-making.
- Pair with a tonic: “A really pure, clean white wine makes a beautiful spritzer. Just stir it with some fresh lime and add tonic,” advises Joshua Hall, Fine Wine & Good Spirits’ Chairman’s Selection Category Manager.
- Utilize sparkling varieties: Get your carbonation fix from sparkling wine, which marries extremely well with all kinds of fruit juices, from the classic Mimosa (orange juice) to the Bellini (fresh peach puree) – if you’re willing to put in the extra effort.
- Keep the season in mind: For spring and summer, stick with fresher varietals like Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc and reds with brighter acidity and lower alcohol content, often from cooler climates. A dry rosé is generally a crowd-pleaser, as well.
Remember Food Pairing Tips – No cocktail hour is complete without something to nibble on – and you have plenty of easy options beyond the standard charcuterie tray. Unlike cheeses, bar snacks are relatively uncomplicated, and you can make them ahead of time so you can enjoy your own get-together.
- Watch your weight: Make sure to match the weight of the wine or cocktail with the weight of the food that you are serving.
- Provide options: Balance out more flavorful hors d’oeuvres, like deviled eggs carbonara topped with diced pancetta and parmesan crisps, with lighter options, like popcorn flavored with brown butter and smoked salt.
- Mix it up: While dips are an essential happy-hour staple, try something new and upgrade your standard salsa or guacamole side for a quick and easy queso fundido.
An experienced entertainer? Fine Wine & Good Spirits has a variety of recipes to experiment with and put your mixology skills to the test. See below for some summer cocktails guaranteed to surprise and delight your guests:
Blackberry Frozen Limeade
- ¾ oz Bird Dog Blackberry Flavored Whiskey
- 1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
- 1 Tbsp honey
- 3 oz blackberries
- 1 c crushed ice
Combine all ingredients in a blender. Pulse until smooth and serve in a rocks glass.
Peppar & Pineapple Martini
- 1 ½ oz Absolut Peppar Vodka
- 4 cubes pineapple
- ⅓ oz simple syrup
- ⅔ oz fresh lemon juice
- 1 pineapple wedge
Muddle pineapple and simple syrup in a shaker. Add ice, vodka and lemon juice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with pineapple wedge.
Cheers and enjoy! ❤