As our extended group of friends approaches their 30’s, it would be fair to say that most of our parties have been relatively simple. For the most part, we’ve been having the same types of parties that we started having in high school and college. The image you have is probably about right: someone’s parents’ basement; red Dixie cups filled with cheap beer or liquor and pop that everyone brought themselves; chips and dip if you were lucky; drinking games to make it all go down quickly before leaving for the bar. Nothing wrong with that!
This is part 1 of 2. Read Part 2: Lessons Learned over here!
As we got a bit older, the beer got better, the pop went diet, and we didn’t go to bars as much, but the basic party formula didn’t change fundamentally. That is until very recently, when we stopped the BYOB and started enjoying cocktails, with many of us expanding our bar stock and our palettes. One of the fruits of this was the creation of this very site, which stemmed from an attempt to chronicle our newfound passion.
As my 29th birthday approached, this new reality posed a few problems. Delicious cocktail parties are all well and good when the numbers are small, but I didn’t want to exclude anyone for this. For my wife and I, that meant expecting 25-30 guests. Will I have enough food and drink for everyone? Dixie cups are out of style, so what about glassware?
I decided to take a cue from Bruno Meliambro and make a menu. Anyone would be welcome to anything I had in stock, but the ingredients for the drinks on the menu would be stocked in quantity. It would also help to alleviate some of the usual…
“What can I make you?”
“Oh, I don’t know, whatever you want to make!”
That can be fun sometimes, but it would get tiring quickly with that many people.
I had three other main considerations for the menu: balance, level of effort, and novelty. Balance obviously required having different flavour profiles to attempt to cover all different tastes and also using a variety of base alcohols (with a smaller cocktail party, you could focus on a single flavour theme, but that wouldn’t fly this time).
Complex cocktails are fun to prepare most of the time, but the level of effort can get old fast if you have to make five at a time while trying to enjoy your party. I needed some options that would be quick to mix or that could be prepared in advance, so that guests weren’t just waiting around.
Finally, I wanted to have some novel things that the other writers on FMMS hadn’t drank before, and that would make everyone else feel like they were ordering drinks at some hipster bar that didn’t have a sign on the front.
This is the menu I made and printed:
– MENU –
Pre-made in a pitcher: Cucumber Vodka Lemonade
Pour into ice-filled mason jar, garnish with lime, lemon, and/or cucumber.
Pre-made in a pitcher: The Negroni
1 ½ oz Gin
1 ½ oz Campari
1 ½ oz Sweet Vermouth
Pour ingredients into ice-filled mason jar, topping up with club soda if desired.
The Rain Drop
1 ½ oz white Tequila
¼ oz Galliano vanilla liqueur
2 ½ oz unsweetened coconut water
½ oz simple syrup
Juice of half a lime
2 dashes orange bitters
Shake with ice, strain into ice-filled mason jar.
1.5 oz Gin
½ oz Triple Sec
2 oz Cucumber Juice
½ oz Simple Syrup
½ oz Lime Juice
Shake with ice, strain into ice-filled mason jar. Garnish with cucumber.
The Salt Lick
2 oz Vodka
½ oz Campari
3 oz Grapefruit Juice
Rim mason jar with kosher salt, then fill with ice. Add ingredients and stir.
As you can see, I went with the generic titles in bold to give guests a quick idea of what they were looking at and then I had the actual drink name and recipe below. They’d be able to order, customize, or even get behind the “bar” (really my kitchen counter) to try making things themselves. You’ll also notice the reference to mason jars: this was how I’d decided to solve my glassware issue. I didn’t have enough proper glassware to serve that many people, and also would probably not want to risk what I did have since this wouldn’t be a “sit-down” type party. Getting some inexpensive mason jars (250ml and 500ml) would hopefully help with that as well as add to the novelty factor.
So how did everything turn out? Stay tuned for Part 2: Lessons Learned.