It’s time to start thinking about our Spring and Summer entertaining. Mothers Day brunches, graduation parties and summer holidays are all just around the corner. But we don’t really need a holiday excuse to entertain, do we… nice weather weekends are reason enough to celebrate friends and family. The initial cocktail, if you think about it, is one of the first clues that your guests will get upon arrival that will set the tone for your party. So the details of this drink should be as well thought out as the rest of the meal- like a choice that makes sense with the menu, which fresh ingredients are in season, glasses, garnishes and whether they will be formally served or set up for self-serve. Let’s peruse some crowd pleasing recipes that will quench outdoor thirst and pair nicely with spring and summer menus.
PIMMS CUP COCKTAIL
Who would know better about warm weather AND cocktails but New Orleans? Let’s take a page from The Napoleon House, a New Orleans institution, and try out their famous Pimms Cup cocktail recipe. Your guests will be begging for a refill in no time. Probably laughing a lot too. Something about Pimms No 1 has given it a reputation as laugh potion.
Fill a tall 12 oz glass with ice
Add 1 1/4 oz. Pimm’s #1 and 3 oz lemonade
Top off with 7up
Garnish with cucumber, orange slices, strawberries, mint
This one got its name from being the drink of choice by our regular guests one particularly hot summer. It was so good that it became a running joke, and the drink found a new name. If you keep frozen limeade stocked in the freezer, you are halfway to this drink that can be served with or without alcohol. Light and refreshing, this drink simply tastes like, well, more. Cucumbers are known for being cleansing and hydrating, and this cocktail goes down all too easy, so you might want to make a non alcoholic batch as well.
1 12oz can of frozen Limeade concentrate
the juice of 2 large fresh (peeled) cucumbers
3 cups of club soda
Cucumber slices and Mint (garnish)
Combine limeade concentrate, cucumber juice and club soda in pitcher. When serving, fill tall glass with ice, add one shot of vodka (optional) and fill glass with limeade/cucumber mixture. Garnish with cucumber slice and mint sprig.
BLOODY MARY, A Brunch Classic
Bloody Marys are so on trend these days for brunch and lunch entertaining that I had to include them in this list. They can be as complicated or as simple as the host pleases. My suggestion is to set up a Bloody Mary bar with customizable ingredients like horseradish, Worcestershire sauce, lemons, Tobasco sauce, and garnishes – let your guests customize their own heat and garnishes. Zing-Zang makes a well-balanced flavorful Bloody Mary base if you want to keep the preparation easy. Garnishes might include salt for rimming the glasses, leafy celery sticks, olives, lemons, pickled okra, even crispy bacon strips if you care to go over the top.
Stirred Not Shaken
You do know not to ever mix a Bloody Mary in a cocktail shaker, right? It creates a froth that you don’t want. Best to “roll” the drink back and forth between two shaker cups or glasses.
Fresh Pineapple juice
A squeeze of lime juice
1 shot of Grey Goose Vodka
Combine all in a shaker, shake well, serve over ice, garnish with a sprig of mint.
This colorful mojito variation is a “skinny” drink. Sublime perfection for a hot day that is super easy to make. Simply muddle or blend fresh seedless watermelon and a handful of washed and de-stemmed mint. Transfer juice to a pitcher. Pour over ice and add one shot of white rum (optional). Stir, garnish with fresh mint sprig, and serve.
*cheers* to you and your stylish entertaining~
A version of this article previously appeared in Huffington Post.