Cocktail parties are great for entertaining friends, colleagues, and relatives. You don’t need a big budget or lots of time to plan a great one, either. The classic cocktail night simply requires some delicious cocktails and finger foods to make the evening a success.
Take things up a notch with these smart tips and fun ideas for a night in with friends.
1. Use Top-Shelf Liquor
There are many different types of liquor out there, including well and top-shelf. The former is usually lower-quality and made in mass quantities with the cheapest available ingredients. That’s why bartenders might refer to well liquor as “bottom-shelf” varieties.
Meanwhile, “top-shelf” drinks are premium drinks of superior quality, and they’re sure to take your cocktails to the next level. Swap your cheaper booze for a better, perhaps more local, kind. Maybe a nearby distillery offers high-quality picks at a great price.
2. Reimagine Old Classics
Sometimes, all you need are a few good classic cocktails to take your night to new heights. However, if you want to turn up the flavor factor, you’ll reimagine old classics and put a modern twist on tried-and-true recipes.
For instance, you might play with rosemary and red pepper flavors in a classic cosmopolitan. Or perhaps you can mix and match fresh fruit and mint garnishes with a staple like the Tom Collins. Whatever you whip up, you’re sure to impress your guests.
3. Experiment With Dry Ice
Whether you’re hosting a Halloween-themed party or looking for a way to one-up your friends’ cocktail nights, adding dry ice to the mix is a sure crowd-pleaser. As dangerous as it might sound, adding dry ice to your drinks is safe as long as you don’t eat the sunken cube when you finish sipping.
Make some killer smoky cocktails that are as bubbly as they are boozy. Simply make your favorite. Then drip in a few chunks of dry ice. Cheers!
4. Make Color-Changing Martinis
If you really want to keep your friends guessing, try shaking things up with color-changing martinis. These drinks turn from deep indigo to bright pinks and, while they may look magical, there’s a science behind the shift.
An edible blossom gives the drink its dark hue, while lemon juice’s high acidity adds zest and a tinge of light pink or purple. And it all happens right before your eyes.
5. Upgrade Your Glassware
What good is a pretty drink if you can’t see it? Make sure your glassware is fog-free and clean before serving guests. Better yet, upgrade your drinkware and treat yourself to a new set.
Perhaps you’ve had your eye on a crystal collection or something a bit more grand than the one you have now. You can even find portable double-walled cocktail glasses to keep drinks colder for longer. Remember to buy enough drinkware to accommodate however many people you host.
6. Serve Them Steaming
Winter is the perfect time to warm up with a hot chocolate or steaming cup of tea. Luckily, you can turn practically any cold-weather favorite into a boozy masterpiece. All you need is the right liquor and mix-ins to really heat things up.
Make hot buttered rum or whip up a big match of mulled wine, complete with cinnamon sticks and orange slices. Serve these beverages steaming and gather around the hearth to swap stories and play games.
7. Create a DIY Garnish Bar
In some cocktails, the garnishes steal the spotlight. For instance, Bloody Marys can come with anything from shrimp skewers and celery to mini sliders and french fries. Meanwhile, boozy dessert drinks may call for chocolate syrup, coffee beans, whipped cream, and even sprinkles.
If you’re serving one of these drinks, theme your entire cocktail night around it and create a DIY garnish bar. Provide every topping guests could possibly want or invite guests to bring their own favorite to share.
Being a Great Host
As the host, the night’s success depends on you. It might feel like you’re under a lot of pressure, but cocktail nights are supposed to be laid back, so relax. You’ve got this, and so do your guests. They won’t stay long, and you’ll only have to serve a few drinks before they bid you adieu, so be a good host and accommodate your friends any way you can.
If they want the recipe for one of the cocktails you whipped up, write it down for them or share the link. Perhaps they need a ride home after having one too many. Be willing to help them out then, too. That’s what being a good host – and a kind person – is all about.
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