The return of cooler weather brings the season of holiday parties and family get togethers. As children we look forward to getting out of school and presents. As adults it is about entertaining, finding the perfect gifts, and lots of stress. I can’t help you with the gifts but I can take some of the stress out of entertaining.
When you are hosting a party there is enough to worry about between creating and executing the menu and making sure the house stays clean with all of the kids out on break. I find that at most parties the host always buys beer, wine, and liquor to accommodate all the guest taste. While this is a nice gesture, you can end up spending more on the alcohol than you do to feed the entire party. Save time and money by offering one or two signature drinks. If you have drinkers let them know when inviting them that there will be signature cocktails only. Most people take the hint to BYOB if they want something other than what is on the menu. We all have that relative that keeps a six pack or bottle of liquor in the trunk for such ‘emergencies’.
Offering one or two signature cocktails is budget friendly. This also allows you to have more time to prepare and create a unique experience. You can give your drinks quirky names, put food coloring in them to suit the theme or holiday, and have some fun coming up with cocktail creations. I have included some recipes for drinks with directions for even the novice mixologist. Like a regular recipe you can adjust all the liquid amounts to your desired taste. You can also make these in batches instead of individual servings to save time.
As a 15 year bartender I have a few tips.
1. Having two signature drinks lets you appeal to more taste. One sweet drink and one not.
2. Pick simple and easy ingredients.
3. If you have a theme keep it going with your drinks.
4. Set up an area for drink mixing where everything is prepped and ready to go; glasses, ice, shakers, mixers, liquors, and garnishes.
5. MOST IMPORTANT. BE A RESPONSIBLE HOST!
- 4 oz. cream soda
- 2.5 oz. milk
- 2 oz. vanilla vodka
- grated cinnamon or a cinnamon stick for garnish
- in a shaker combine all liquid ingredients with ice and shake until bubbly
- pour into a tall glass and garnish with cinnamon
- 1.5 oz. vodka
- 1.5 oz. sour apple pucker
- 2 oz. sour mix
- splash of lemon lime soda
- caramel sauce and cinnamon sprinkled apple slices for garnish
* I like to make this in a martini glass with no ice but you can also use a short glass with ice.
- drizzle the inside rim of a short glass or martini glass with caramel sauce
- in an ice filled shaker combine all of your liquid ingredients and shake to blend
- strain liquid into either the prepared martini glass with no ice or into the prepared short glass filled with 1/2 ice
- garnish with apple slice
- 1.5 oz. Amaretto
- 1.5 oz vanilla vodka
- 1oz. of half and half
- finely grated nutmeg and grahm cracker or garnish
- fill a martini glass with ice and water and set aside
- in an ice filled shaker combine all liquids and mix vigorously
- empty martini glass
- strain drink into now chilled martini glass
- sprinkle graham cracker and nutmeg over top for garnish
* This would also be yummy hot served in a coffee or hot chocolate.
Holli’s Bloody Mary
This is one of my all time favorite drinks. It is labor intensive but worth it. This is a great drink for tailgating and pig pickins’.
- 2 oz. vodka
- 4 oz. bloody mary mix (I prefer to use Zing Zang)
- 2 oz. Guiness Stout
- pinch of black pepper
- splash of your favorite hot sauce
- 2 tsp. regular or spicy tomato based bbq sauce
- lime juice if available or a lime
- a finely grated bbq rub or seasoning salt
- garnish of your choice, the possibilities are endless: celery sticks, green olives, cocktail onions, pickled green beans, lemon, lime, shrimp
- on a small plate, sprinkle an even layer of bbq rub or seasoning salt
- thinly coat the rim of a tall glass with either lime juice or run a piece of fresh cut lime along the rim
- dip the rimmed glass into the seasoning so that the rim and very top edge of your glass have a coating of seasoning or rub and set aside
- In a shaker half filled with ice add your first six ingredients and shake gently to mix
- straw test your mixture so see if you need to adjust any seasoning or liquid ingredients
- fill your rimmed glass half way with ice and strain your bloody mary over the top, garnish and serve