Monday afternoon, I was honored to be part of a weekly Twitter tradition known as “Foodie’s Night In.” I was approached by my friends over at Savvy Host and Cooking With Caitlin and asked to be one of the experts for the week’s discussion on cocktails. This week was also sponsored by Crispin Cider, which I’ve already expressed my fondness for.
Naturally, I said yes! Unfortunately, midway through (literally, at the top of the second hour), Twitter decided it had enough of me chatting up booze and promptly forbade me from any more updates.
So, I asked the hosts if I would be able to post my responses to the Foodie’s Night in Questions here, just in case people were interested in what I had to say, even though I couldn’t say it.
(Again, a very special thanks to Cooking with Caitlin, Savvy Host, Girlfriendology, Cozi Family and Crispin Cider for flattering me and letting me be a part of Foodie’s Night In! I was honored to work alongside my fellow experts Julie Niesen, Cheri Loughlin, and the Hoperatives.)
These are the questions as the appeared online, and my answers to them.
PLEASE PUT YOUR OWN ANSWERS IN THE COMMENTS SECTION! BECOME A PART OF THE DISCUSSION!
Q1. What is your favorite cocktail? Is it sweet or savory? Does it help you wind down or get fired up?
Wow, that’s a tough one. I’d have to say I fall back on the Gimlet a lot. It’s simple, it’s delicious and it’s powerful.
Q2. Who makes your fave cocktail best – you, your other half, a neighborhood watering hole, a restaurant chain?
It sounds egotistical, but I’d have to say either me or a close friend of mine who taught me how to mix quality cocktails.
Q3. What is the most versatile liquor to start with? The best mixer? What about packaged cocktail mixes? Share recipes?
Vodka, without a doubt. I encourage people to start their foray into cocktails with a solid vodka. It’s largely tasteless, and you can get some incredibly smooth vodkas. Best mixer is tough, because it all depends on your base cocktail. One mixer you cannot live without in your bar, however, is simple syrup. As for packaged cocktail mixes? Never touch the stuff.
Q4. What’s your favorite “mocktail?” Best drink for a punch bowl? Ice cream drink or slushie? Recipes to share?
On my Website, I’ve tried to have a good number of “mockatils,” for those who aren’t old enough to drink, or just don’t like the taste of alcohol. One of my recent favorites has been the Chinese Firebolt (props to Harry Potter geeks who got the reference).
Q5. What’s the best drink menu for entertaining? Combo of cocktails/mocktails? Do guests serve themselves or do you hire a bartender?
At my wife and I’s gatherings (we’re big entertainers) we usually have “featured” cocktail for the evening, plus a slew of basics that guests can requests. These include gin and tonics, vodka tonics, old fashioned, etc.
Q6. How do you dress up your cocktails with garnishes and homemade ice cubes? Clever uses for glassware? Serving platters?
Ah, garnishes. A big part of a quality cocktail is it’s presentation, so it’s always a good idea to plan out a fitting, and attractive, garnish for whatever you’re serving up. I’m also a sucker for interesting barware, which in my mind makes the drink that much more fun.
Q7. What is the must-have barware? What brands make the best? Are there any everyday kitchen utensils that double in the bar?
Cocktail shakers are a must (that goes without saying). I really don’t have much brand loyalty, truth be told. I’m looking for some new shakers if anyone has recommendations
Q8. What’s best food for a cocktail party? Is it infused with the spirit of the signature drink? How to use liquor/beer as ingredient?
Syncing your meals with your cocktails is key when it comes to entertaining. I’ve made the mistake of making a great meal with a great cocktail, but the two don’t go well together so the experience is stunted. Always know what your tastes will be like and pair accordingly.
Q9. What’s the best food for the morning after a cocktail party (wink, wink)? How to avoid that not-so-hydrated feeling the next day?
I’ve always been a fan of the farmer’s breakfast — pancakes, eggs, bacon, whole milk. It’s a hardy meal that gives you the energy to drag yourself through the next 24 hours. As for avoiding that not-so-hydrated feeling the next day? Pace yourself. The average male can handle one “drink” per hour (that is 1.5 oz of alcohol). The average female, less. Space yourself to one drink an hour, and intersperse with water between drinks.
Q10. How do you create desired ambience at a cocktail party – menu, music, start time? Does it begin with invitations and guest list?
Definitely begins with invitations and guest list. I have an eclectic enough group of friends that I know some wouldn’t enjoy hanging out with the others. A solid cocktail menu is next on the list. Again, the guest list is key, because you’ll have a good idea what your guests like. Cater to them! After all, solid cocktail making isn’t about telling them what to like. It’s opening their eyes to something they WILL like.
Q11. What does your fave drink say about you? Are you a party girl, the designated driver, or do you have to wear an ascot to sip it?
Sorry, I was temporarily distracted by adjusting my frilly laced cravat and polished monocle. That’s not to say I’m so damn full of myself. I’ve just learned the key to enjoying cocktails isn’t to drink to get drunk. You savor a solid cocktail. The buzz is an added bonus.
Q12. In three words or less, what is your state of mind with regards to food (and the drinks to wash it down)?
High quality ingredients.