This blog has been a bit meditation-post heavy in the last few weeks – for which I am not at all sorry – but since we just threw a party for Brian’s birthday, and it was an afternoon-cocktail-themed-affair, and I invented two new drinks – it just seemed time to share those recipes for posterity (and some info about how to throw such a party). Meditation is important work, but so are social gatherings – and I intend to continue with the celebration of both in my life!
First of all, if you are thinking of doing an afternoon cocktail party, here are some tips:
- This is an expensive kind of party to throw – booze (especially in Canada) is pricey. I planned my drinks several weeks in advance and split the party cost over three paycheques.
- The best, most awesome drinks, include special ingredients or housemade infusions. This is another reason to plan ahead – your basic fruit liqueur takes about six weeks (minimum), and even a quicker infusion like earl grey liqueur or straight up tonic syrup may call for special ingredients, or require time to make. Planning ahead by at least two months is preferable if you want to do anything special.
- Rent glassware – it’s pretty cheap to do and you don’t have to wash anything before returning it. Also rent cocktail plates, ice buckets and any other barware that you wouldn’t use in everyday life. This keeps refuse to a minimum and really helps the cleanup!
- You need a minimum of two ice buckets – one for ice and one for whatever you want to keep on ice (in our case there were many prosecco drinks).
- Definitely you will need help during the party because no matter how much glassware you rent or own, you will run out. No one keeps one glass for the entire party. Enlist your friends to wash glasses, they will oblige because – free drinks!
- Choose only 4-6 drinks that you are prepared to make, print out a sign with ingredients so that people can see what is in them, and make that available in a number of places for people to consult. You cannot afford to set up a bar for everything. I went with six drinks, many of which shared ingredients. Also, pick things with ingredients that go with the weather (in our case, prosecco was a big hit and I used herbs in season that were growing in our garden).
- Also – bartending – you do not want people free pouring, so be prepared to bar tend and arrange in advance for a couple of people to spell you off in advance. Create a sheet of drinks with recipes to aid the process. People might be daunted at first, but a lot of people enjoy being behind the bar – it creates a different kind of social interaction.
- Bartenders need to keep drinks poured at the right levels, otherwise you will run out of booze too fast and people will get drunk. We were very successful with this – and I realized how much of a difference proper bartending made to the event.
- You definitely need bar towels, water (if you aren’t near a sink), and a large vessel (garbage can, pickling crock) for liquids and other refuse.
- Have lots of ice on hand.
- Be prepared for some people to stay late and have some basic dinner fixings on hand (we did that, but then our friend ordered pizza instead and that was equally amazing). Also – serve ample grounding foods throughout – bread, cheese, olives, veggie platter, etc. People will eat it all and it cuts down on drinking on an empty stomach.
We are very lucky to have a backyard studio/guesthouse/meditation room – so we set our bar up in the studio because the day was warm and it kept people in the yard as opposed to cramped in the house. The drinks on the menu were the Afternoon Marteani, Orange Blossom, Iced Amarula, Gin/Vodka and housemade tonic, French 75 and the Urban Crow. (The bolded ones are my own concoctions. The photo at the head of this article is the martini, the Urban Crow is pictured alongside an Orange Blossom below.
The Urban Crow Cocktail
- Served in a jam jar (250 ml)
- Wipe rim with sage leaves and then muddle four leaves in the bottom of the jar
- Add two ice cubes
- One shot blackberry liqueur
- One shot gin
- Finish with soda
The Afternoon Marteani
- Served in a martini glass
- Dollop 1 teaspoon of blood orange (or other citrus) marmalade in the bottom of the glass
- Pour 1 shot vodka, 1 shot earl grey liqueur into a shaker with ice
- Strain contents of shaker into glass over the marmalade
(I think this martini is my favourite new thing – the earl grey liqueur is outta this world, and the jam flavours the drink subtly and wonderfully throughout the drinking experience).