Whether you are cooking a large meal for friends and family or just having a few people over this weekend, now is your time to impress your guests with some luxurious drinks. To get you started I have highlighted five key elements to make your evening party just that little bit more special. These tips aren’t time consuming, yet they will make a big difference!
First, make sure you have enough glasses for each type of drink you will be serving during the evening. Dinner parties are the best times to dig out your grandma’s crystal glasses and dessert wine glasses.
Matching the glassware to the drink will improve the drinking experience by bringing out more flavours (plus it just looks nice). We often tend to bring out the special bottles after the main meal, therefore it is important these special spirits (or wines) are served appropriately. For example, serve brandy in a brandy snifter as the large surface area of the glass helps evaporate the liquid and the narrow top traps the aroma inside the glass, while the rounded bottom allows it to be cupped in the hand to warm the liquor. Or if you are serving sherry or a liqueur, a sherry glass works best as it has a smaller volume than a normal wine glass.
When you are serving cocktails, G&Ts or other long drinks, it is important to use a lot of ice. So, if you are planning to make special drinks for the night, I recommend you stock up the freezer with plenty of ice.
Why is ice so important? People often forget the importance of ice and tend not to have any available at home. Topping up your glass with ice keeps the drink cold without diluting it. If you only use two or three cubes they will melt much faster, changing the taste of your drink. With only a few ice cubes there’s also the danger of adding too much of the mixer, making the overall tasting experience disappointing.
3 Invest in Mixers
As mixers often constitute two-thirds of the final drink, you should make sure you use top-quality mixers. There are plenty of all-natural mixers available, anything from ginger beers to Indian tonic waters to other flavoured mixers. This is especially important when you prefer to use slimline tonics, as artificial sweeteners often compromise the taste of the actual spirit.
Fever-Tree tonic waters are premium mixers, but if you want something new, something different, try Double Dutch, as they have both slimline and normal tonic water, as well as exciting and fun new flavours. Their mixers can easily be used with any spirit, not just gin. Fentimans Botanically Brewed Beverages offers a wide range of ginger beers and lemonades. My favourite would be their Rose Lemonade as it makes a fantastic addition to a Champagne cocktail.
4 Welcome Cocktail
Now that you have invested in beautiful glassware, ice and mixers, you are ready to decide on a special festive cocktail for your guests. Think about the flavours of the season; for example, cranberry and rosemary combined to make a tasty, festive Christmas cocktail when you garnish with both, or elderflower and other floral notes are perfect for a summery party. If you are expecting many people and don’t have enough time for individual cocktails, just make a large batch and serve it from a beautiful crystal punch bowl as the guests arrive. Garnish and voilà!
5 The After-Dinner Drink
If it’s a dinner party rather than just drinks, buy a bottle of premium-quality spirit to serve neat after dinner. Accompany it with some coffee, cake or fine chocolates. For brandy drinkers, I recommend a fabulous Metaxa 12 stars (or 7 if you can’t get your hands on 12); for rum drinkers, perhaps a Diplomático Reserva Exclusiva will hit the spot; a whisky enthusiast might like Glenfiddich IPA Cask, as it’s something novel and different. And for the tequila enthusiast, who knows how to appreciate quality tequila, serve La Cava Don Agustin Añejo, an excellent sipping tequila – all served in the right glassware, of course!!
Do you enjoy hosting dinner parties? Will you buy a special bottle to share with friends and family?
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I need to get some more pretty glasses! At this time of year I like a glass of port after dinner.
I love a bit of port at Christmas! You should buy glassware now as sales are already on in most places 🙂