Thursday, 22 December 2011

Entertaining for a Holiday Party

The holidays are a shit show to be frank.  With various family, and social gatherings -along with all the headaches that come along with these functions- the last thing you need to worry about is what type of bitters your guests prefer in their Old-Fashioned.  If you are going to be hosting a holiday party this December, here are a few tips to ensure that you and your guests both end the night feeling content.

Keep it Simple

There is no need to try to compensate for every cocktail under the sun.  Having a small selection of bottles of booze, along with fresh fruit, simple syrup, and maybe a bottle of bitters, will result in a vast array of possible combinations.

Also, don't feel that you need to buy full 750ml bottles either, you should be able to find the liquor you're looking for in a smaller 375ml bottle.  This will result in most choices for your guests, and less expenses for yourself.  For only $75 of booze,  you will easily be able to obtain a selection of alcohol that is sure to please any kind of imbiber.
  • Alberta Premium - 375ml - $11.87
  • Appleton Estate V/X - 375ml - $13.50
  • Beefeater - 375ml - $12.99
  • Cointreau - 375ml - $18.49
  • Martini & Rossi  Dry Vermouth - 500ml - $7.99
  • Martini & Rossi Sweet Vermouth - 500ml - $7.99
Total: $72.83
* Prices are relative only to BC government liquor stores

With just a bottle of Angostura bitters, and some fresh citric, I can easily think of well over a dozen cocktails that could be made from the above six ingredients.

Prepare ahead of time

Trying to make every single cocktail made ready to order is just unreasonable.  It will only mean you will have to spend more time shaking and stirring, than conversing.  Anyways, after the first three cocktails, your guests would not be able to notice the different in a cocktail made two minutes ago, or two days ago.

The easiest way to dole out a large quantity of hooch is by preparing a punch.  Just like a good homemade soup, punch only improves with time in the fridge.  Allowing the flavors to mingle ahead of time in the fridge will result in a better tasting punch, as well as giving you more time to focus on other facets of your party.

If you are batching a cocktail for your party, make sure the cocktail you create is accessible to all your guests.  By this I mean, don't do a batched Manhattan or Martini, simply because a cocktail of that strength is just too much for some people to enjoy.  Something along the lines of a Margarita, or 20th Century, is a cocktail light enough that everyone can enjoy.  Also, remember to account for dilution when batching a cocktail.  Add water to taste, chill in fridge, and serve when your guests arrive.

The Trader's Tipple (Serves 12-15 People)
- 18 oz Dark Rum
- 12 oz VS Cognac
- 9 oz Lemon Juice
- 9 oz Grapefruit Juice
- 6 oz Chilled Silk Road Herbal Chai Tea (Brew hot and let cool)
- 6 oz Sugar (By Volume)
- 2 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
- Peel of 1 Grapefruit
- Peel of 2 Lemon

- Add the peel of one grapefruit and one lemon to sugar
- Muddle citrus peel into sugar until all peel as been fully macerated
- Let sugar and critic peel sit for 1 hour
- Add chilled tea, vanilla extract and fruit juice sugar/citric mixture
- Stir until all sugar has dissolved
- Add Rum and Cognac
- Chill Punch for a minimum of 2 hours in fridge
- Strain Punch through a fine mesh strainer to remove all citric peel
- Decorate punch with thin slices of lemon, grapefruit, star anise and what ever else takes your fancy

If you'll be entertaining for more then 15 guests, just multiply the quantity of ingredients as necessary.

Hiring Help

If you really want a great experience for your guests, and your self, hire a bartender to do all the work!  Contact a local bartender and see if they know of any spirit enthusiasts who are yet to break into a full time bartending job.  This give you more time to focus on your guests, as well as giving the opportunity  to an eager young bartender to do what he/she loves.

Lastly, remember to enjoy your holiday libations responsibly, after all, you wouldn't want to miss my new years eve blog post on champagne cocktails!

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