Our favorite summer mixologist Cheri Loughlin, also known as The Intoxicologist, explains how to throw the perfect summer party by planning ahead with make-ahead drinks.
The mantra of most mixologists is fresh ingredients are best for making great cocktails. No doubt about it; fresh fruits of the season take the lead role in summer drink recipes and summer entertaining plans. Lemons and limes and other citrus fruits are year round staples for garnishing and for their acidic properties. Summer renews the senses by bringing fresh fruit splendor to classic cocktail favorites such as the Mojito, Margarita, Daiquiri and Sangria. Fresh ingredients brighten the drink’s flavor profile and add spark, lilt and energy to familiar favorite recipes. Fresh fruits of the season can be incorporated into cocktail recipes with easy muddling, juicing or garnishing techniques.
Incorporating fresh fruits into summer entertaining plans is a must for the most beautiful and refreshing cocktails. Garnishing is by far the easiest way to add fresh fruit to the summer entertaining cocktail experience. Skewered berries, sliced fruits, fruit wedges and layering fruits with ice in a glass are all simple, yet beautiful ways to garnish a cocktail. Cocktails with fruit rim garnishes are indeed beautiful. But wouldn’t it be fabulous to delight and awe guests with lush fresh fruit flavored cocktails full of vibrant colors of the season rather than just garnished cocktail rims?
Party hosts don’t want to be stuck in the kitchen or behind a bar making fresh muddled cocktails all afternoon while guests enjoy the gorgeous day. The purpose of outdoor entertaining is for all partygoers in attendance to enjoy a fun filled afternoon or evening. The “all” includes host and guests.
The beverage station is a host’s multiple function mobile party bar. Serve yourself beverage stations offer guests an interactive party role by providing a mix and mingle opportunity. Use the bar location as a way to direct guest traffic flow while keeping in mind the need for shade. Place the bar separately from food tables to encourage guests to mingle rather than stay fixed in one spot nearest the food throughout the party.
The clear function of the beverage station is the drink. Make the bar visually inviting and user friendly. Place a recipe card with easy to follow instructions on the table with photo of the highlighted drink. Include proper tools such as muddler, measuring cups, glassware, stirrers and cocktail picks. If possible it is helpful to have some ingredients pre-measured for guests. Pre-measure spirits to ensure proper pour. Pre-cut garnishes for efficiency and easy of cocktail decoration.
Some cocktail recipes require a little more time or skill to prepare than would be effective for a guest beverage station. Don’t skimp on favorite recipes or fresh ingredients that require muddling or a few extra steps in the preparation process. Plan ahead by preparing a portion of the cocktail recipe ahead of time. Guests can complete the last few steps on their own.
The Blueberry Peach Mojito recipe is a delightful choice for outdoor entertaining. The flavor is fresh with juicy plump muddled blueberries complemented by peach preserves and blueberry syrup. The recipe calls for muddling and straining which means an outside water source is necessary. Since running water tap isn’t always available with mobile beverage stations, the Blueberry Peach Mojito makes an excellent make-ahead drink with easy completion by guests.
Make a pitcher of the Blueberry Peach Mojito recipe leaving out the club soda. Provide guests with proper glassware, fresh ice, fresh blueberries, lime slices, mint leaves, and club soda. Place photo card on the table with instructions on how to assemble the drink, such as; Layer ice with fresh blueberries and lime slices in Double Old Fashioned glass. Pour 3 ounces Blueberry Peach Mojito mixture over garnished ice. Top with approximately 1-1/2 to 2 ounces Club Soda. Garnish with additional blueberries and mint leaf.
Guests will be thoroughly delighted to have been included in the cocktail experience. The hostess with the mostess reaps the benefit of continued party enjoyment. Everyone sips and savors the Blueberry Peach Mojito to the berry-licious last drop!
Cheri Loughlin is The Intoxicologist, a corporate mixologist who creates and photographs cocktails and mixed drinks for home entertaining and bar use. Cheri writes about cocktails at www.intoxicologist.net.