Workshops are the best. Mostly because we have the best students (and friends and customers)! Because we love a good cocktail more than your average lady, we were thrilled to kick off The Lovely Gathering Series with a lesson on how to stock the bar and mix the perfect cocktail!
Throwing a Cocktail Party
- Make your invitation clear so guests know what to expect. Will it be casual (like Creektails - Carlyn's low-key cocktail party hosted spontaneously throughout the year) or a more standard cocktail party (more dressy casual...think Audrey Hepburn).
- Consider hiring a bartender so you can mix and mingle instead of mixing drinks all night.
- Have at least some food (including a carb and something for any guests with dietary restrictions). You don't want guests getting too tipsy!
- Be prepared to call (and even pay for) your guests' uber, if they didn't utilize that service in the first place. Never send your friend out the door tipsy with keys. (I know...duh! But, it happens a lot).
- Regardless of what you're mixing, your bar for a cocktail party should have these basics: whiskey/bourbon, vodka, red wine, white wine, beer. You also want one non-alcoholic offering! We recommend Buffalo Trace Whiskey and Deep Eddy Vodka for the most bang for your buck. If you really want to jazz it up, go for Woodford Reserve and Grey Goose.
- You should plan to have 1 bottle of wine per hour for every 2 guests AND be prepared to have twice the amount of glasses as you do guests. Speaking of glasses....be sure you are holding yours in your left hand by the stem, so that you can shake hands with your guests AND so you don't warm the drink or get condensation all over you. Here is a great link to give you a recap of which glass is which AND what should go in each glass.
For a nicely balanced cocktail, there are 4 main elements that can be included. When you know this formula, you can create countless delicious concoctions!
STRONG + SWEET + BITTER + ACIDIC
(Muir, Lottie, Wild Cocktails: From the Midnight Apothecary, pg. 41)
STRONG: alcoholic spirits
SWEET: sugar, agave, honey, simple syrups, fruit juice, fruit (non-acidic)
BITTER: actual bitters, herbs, roots (ginger - my fave!), spices, peels
ACIDIC: citrus fruit, wine (vermouth), vinegar (shrubs)
WEAK (optional): ice, water, soda
A typical ratio is 1.5 or 2 oz. alcohol to 1 oz. sweet to 1 oz. acidic, so 2:1:1
Then you can add a couple of dashes of bitters, a few sprigs of herbs, etc. for your bitter component. Taste test your cocktail and if you think it's too strong, you can always add water or soda, but remember if using ice, the ice will melt quickly and naturally water it down and nobody likes a watery tail!
To mix your cocktail in a shaker:
1. Throw in your fruit, herbs (except mint & basil - slap those on your hand and add right before the ice), acidity, and bitters
2. Start muddling - if don't have a muddler you can use a wooden spoon
3. Add liquor and ice
4. Start shaking for 10-15 seconds
5. Pour your cocktail in a chilled glass or over ice
6. Garnish with an herb, fruit, and/or peel used in the recipe
Here are some of our favorite recipes:
Carlyn's favorite recipe: Kentucky Mule
2 oz. Bourbon
4 oz. Gosling's Ginger Beer
.5 oz. fresh lime juice
Put lime juice, bourbon, mint, ice in shaker. Shake it up. Pour over ice and top with ginger beer. If making a big batch for a party, don't worry about shaking. Just pour all ingredients into a dispenser and add lots of mint and lime slices in the dispenser.
Morgan's favorite recipe: The Manhattan
2 oz. Rye or Bourbon
1 oz. Sweet Vermouth
few dashes of Angostura bitters.
It is stirred in a bar glass (never shake a Manhattan unless it is specifically requested, this cocktail should be cold and clear) and strained into a chilled cocktail glass and garnished with a cherry. Remember that the cherry garnish is THE BEST! Feel free to think out of the maraschino box and try something like this.