When it comes to serving cocktails at small gatherings or dinner parties, beyond providing LaCroix for vodka soda’s I tend to forget about making cocktails all together. It seems like another time-consuming task to add onto the list of duties as a host, and combined with the fact that I don’t consider myself a master cocktail expert I just skip offering cocktails beyond wine, beer or water. However, every single time I visit my dear friends, Nate & Molly, and Nate offers up a craft cocktail, I jump at the chance to enjoy one of his custom libations. It seems sophisticated and special and totally elevates the evening, even when we are simply grilling out burgers. So I asked him for his top six cocktail tips that you can easily use yourself to elevate your host profile without sacrificing extra time or energy. I was equally impressed and surprised at how little prep goes into such an expert host/ess-with-the-mostess move. So coming right up, Nate’s #savagesix for serving up fancy, craft cocktails for your friends.
- Have a simple, go-to drink mapped out before your guests arrive. I think this was my favorite tip of the whole bunch. If I were you, I would keep the cocktail you intend to make a secret and make it look like you came up with something extra fancy and pretty on the fly. I actually cannot believe it never dawned on me that Nate already had the cocktail(s) he was going to make in mind before my arrival. With the specific cocktail in mind you can make sure you’re prepped and ready-to-go and enjoy your cocktail while impressing your guests.
- Choose recipes with only a few ingredients so you can remember in ratios rather than in measurements. Nate’s favorite go-to summer drink is the gimlet, and instead of referencing a recipe he simply keeps the rations in mind so keep bartending time to a minimum. You can toss everything in a big glass with some ice and simply stir, or use one of the cocktail shakers/sets suggested below based on your budget.
- 3 parts gin
- 1 part lime juice
- 1 part simple syrup
- Add flavor with simple syrup.I have NEVER considered making simple syrup which has likely contributed to my lack of enthusiasm for making cocktails. Nate suggests putting in a little extra effort to make your own syrup, which can be stored in the fridge for up to a couple of weeks. Anything that can be prepped in advance, and stored for more than a couple of days is a win in my book!
- 1 part h2o
- 1 part sugar
- Boil until sugar is dissolved and voilá
- Bonus tip: If you add a handful of basil or a couple of slices of ginger (Nate and Molly’s favorite!) while boiling, your cocktails (such as a gimlet) will get a nice flavor boost.
- Drinks that look better, taste better (don’t they??) Nate uses blood oranges for any recipes that call for orange garnish such as an Old Fashioned or Negroni. I can attest that blood oranges look beautiful and it only needs a thin little slice you can cut and place on the glass or just throw in. I’d check out your local Whole Foods.
- Pour in a little juice from a jar of cocktail cherries to make a small, pink layer at the bottom of the glass. This will add color and a slight sweetness to the cocktail with almost no fuss.
- Have barbershop/party straws to put in tall glass drinks i.e. Gin & TonicsThey also happened to have on hand a variety of edible flowers on-hand (pictured in this photo), which can be a little pricey. But if you’re looking for a little splurge on something special it’s a great addition. It would also be a fantastic hostess gift, especially for someone who does love making cocktails.
- Use large form ice cubes for any on-the-rock drinksI don’t even need to elaborate on this, by far the easiest thing you can do is pour some water into a large ice cube tray (a couple of my favorites linked below) and pop into the freezer.
Hopefully these tips provide some simple inspiration to whip up cocktails for your next gathering! I know I am already brainstorming a couple of favorite go-to’s for my upcoming cocktail/dinner parties. Please share your tips or email me anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org.