Chef Notes: Party Cocktails

Chef Notes: Party Cocktails

I do a fair amount of entertaining. I’m always volunteering to host the big family events. I love throwing together pool parties, dinner parties, and providing a spot for my friends to have their parties if their living arrangements (i.e. their parent’s homes, their multiple roommates, or their tiny apartments) are inadequate.  People think I’m nuts and sometimes I start to feel the same.  The night before or the morning of a big event can be a shit show.  But inevitably everything turns out great.  Sometimes the turkey is slightly overcooked, or the filling for the deviled eggs too thin (don’t ask about the one’s I served this past weekend, which by the way were delicious but they looked like crap), or the rub for the meat too spicy for more sensitive palette’s, but everyone always has a great time and most of the little mistakes are not noticed.  
 
One thing that is hard to screw up and is always appreciated is the signature cocktail.  I love it because it eliminates the need for multiple mixers and alcohols.  In other words, it saves you money and time during the party.  Often you can create a signature drink that can be slightly modified for teetotalers and underage drinkers.  I always provide one decent beer, red and white wine, and a signature cocktail for alcoholic beverages and let that be the end of it.  The following is a riff off a drink we enjoyed on a Celebrity Cruise ship for brunch.  I served it this past weekend for Al’s 50th birthday.  It was very well received.  Unfortunately, this is not one that can be altered to serve nonalcoholic but it is awesome.  I mixed a batch for 20 in a large pitcher, sat it on the bar with the shaker, a cooler full of ice, and instructions on how to serve and let people mix it themselves.  If someone wants to weaken it a bit you could offer club soda/seltzer or tonic as a mixer.  Keep in mind that a tablespoon is ½ oz, just in case you don’t have bar measurers laying around.
 
Allspice Tiki – Makes 1 serving
 
2 oz gin (preferably Hendricks but any decent gin will do)
¾ oz fresh lime juice
¾ oz simple syrup* (see below for instructions)
½ oz pineapple juice
½ oz allspice dram (available at higher end liquor outlets or see below for recipe)
½ oz aperol
½ oz green chartreuse (I substituted Galliano because I’ll be damned if I’m paying $56 for a bottle of green chartreuse)
 
Fill a martini shaker with ice cubes.  Add all ingredients.  Shake until your hand aches from the coldness of shaker or until your arm hurts.  Pour over fresh ice and serve.
 
*Simple Syrup is equal parts water and sugar brought to a boil and then simmered for about 5 minutes.  Yes, you can use the equivalent of any type of sweetener.  Cool before using or it will melt the ice.
 
Homemade Allspice Dram
 
½ cup whole allspice
8 black peppercorns
10 whole cloves
1 – 4” cinnamon stick
½ of a fresh nutmeg (grate with your rasper/microplane)
1 ½ cups sugar
1 ½ cups water
2 ¼ cups spiced rum
 
In a spice or coffee grinder, grind all of the spices thoroughly.  In a small saucepan, bring spices, sugar, and water to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.  Pour into a sealable container and add the rum.  Let sit at least until cool but overnight if you have the time.  Strain a couple of times through either a fine mesh sieve or several layers of cheesecloth.  Don’t worry if you see sediment collect at the bottom later, just stir.  It will be a little cloudy, which is different from the store bought.  Leftovers can be stored at room temperature forever.
 
 

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