Because it's getting cooler outside, and the holidays has suddenly come into sharp focus rather than lazily floating just over the horizon, I realize that it is time to start thinking about holiday entertaining. And let’s face it, if ever there was a time of year that makes us feel like drinking, it’s the holidays. So let’s talk cocktails!
Gray skies, cold weather, and the pressures of upcoming holidays can make for low spirits, and a great way to revive your holiday cheer is to have a cocktail party. And don’t think that a cocktail party needs to mean a ton of effort on your part. We throw a lot of parties, but only by the loosest of definitions. Our general party strategy involves our friends coming over to our house (usually on the spur of the moment,) and everybody hangs out in the kitchen listening to music and drinking wine. I am incredibly lazy, so I call that a party. For the holidays though, next weekend I am going to do something that involves just a little more time and effort (but not too much.)
There are quite a few cocktail recipes out there; here are some fun selections that I am going to have on hand to serve to our friends. Most of these have fairly standard ingredients, and none of them include ingredients that can’t be procured with a quick trip to the grocery store (or liquor store if your grocer doesn’t stock liquor.)
So to plan an easy breezy lemon squeezy cocktail party there are a few staples you should stock up on. Whiskey, bourbon, tequila, rum, vodka, gin, club soda, tonic water, cola, lemons and limes, will start you off nicely. Those will cover most of the basics that people might request. If you want to have a few extras on hand, like cranberry juice, flavored sparkling water, or some tasty liqueurs like Kahlua or Bailey’s Irish Cream, well that just makes a good party even better.
Here are three semi well-known, but not overly tired (I’m looking at you pomtinis, and cosmopolitans) cocktails that you and your guests might enjoy.
4 ounces fresh lemon juice
2 ounces vodka
1 teaspoon white sugar
1 lemon slice
Add sugar to the rim of an old-fashioned glass, and drop a cube or packet of sugar into the bottom of the glass. Pour vodka and lemon juice into a stainless steel shaker over ice, and shake until completely cold. Pour into the prepared old-fashioned glass, and serve, topped with a lemon slice.
2 tablespoons brandy
2 tablespoons creme de cacao
2 tablespoons chocolate syrup
1 cup chocolate ice cream, softened
In blender, combine brandy, creme de cacao, and chocolate syrup. Blend at medium speed until well-mixed. Add the softened ice cream in large chunks. Blend at high speed until smooth. Serve immediately.
2 ounces brandy
1 ounces campari
1 ounce lemon juice
Shake the campari and lemon juice with cracked ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Heat the brandy in a shallow pan and when it’s warm, ignite the brandy and pour into the cocktail glass in a flaming stream.
Now, a word of advice. These drinks are all incredibly tasty. You will taste one, and think it’s delightful. You could have a second and feel quite jolly. You might have a third and begin to gaze at your friends through misty clouds of adoration, congratulating yourself on having such a true-blue bunch of swell pals. (Hint, if you find yourself thinking or saying “swell” or “true-blue” it’s time to switch to water.) These drinks can sneak up on you, and the next thing you know, you are dancing on a coffee table after that last shot of Jagermeister and you raise the roof right into a ceiling fan that was just waiting to attack you and your poor unsuspecting fingers. (Not that anything like that ever happened to me; but possibly to a friend of mine?) So be careful, is all I am saying. Drink responsibly, don’t let your friends drive drunk, etc. etc. You know the drill. Have a fleet of cabs waiting to transport people or bust out those Aero beds and sleeping bags and have an old-fashioned post-cocktail slumber party!