No cocktail party is complete without a few complementary small plates. A nibble-worthy spread is easy to make and will keep your guests satiated as they sip and converse. Whichever snack you choose to serve, make sure it balances the character of each drink.
For wine lovers, cheese and fruit-based foods are always a great choice. Sweeter drinks pair well with savory meats, offering a more complex flavor profile. Couple dry cocktails with your favorite pub mix to let the quality and richness of the spirit shine through. Below we’ve detailed our top three finger foods to round out your next cocktail hour or drink mixer. These can be modified to fit your tastes, and they work with a variety of nutritional lifestyles.
Charcuterie and Cheese Board
A charcuterie and cheese board is made of curated meats, cheeses and a variety of accompaniments. This is an ideal option for all types of wine, including citrusy whites, blush or dry reds and dessert wines like Cava and Riesling. To create your own, we recommend pairing any of the following:
Opt for a soft cow's milk cheese like aged brie, a semi-soft goat or blue cheese and a hard cheese like smoked gouda.
Savory choices include Prosciutto, salami, capicola, and chorizo.
Choose from full-flavored fruit preserves like apple, blackberry and fig.
Olives, grapes and dates all balance the meat and cheese mix.
Place everything on a platter and serve with bread and crackers. Make sure to use our Crystal Wine Glasses for your favorite vino.
Slow Cooker Meatballs
Meatballs are easy to customize with your favorite seasonings and sauces, making them the perfect choice for any cocktail party. If you’re short on prep time, we suggest buying pre-cooked meatballs instead of making them from scratch. Vegetarian options are widely available in stores, so choose the kind of meat that your guests will most enjoy. Place them in the slow cooker, on low, a few hours before the party. Then, serve on a platter with toothpicks and enjoy. Here are some of our favorite meatball recipes:
Traditional Spaghetti Meatballs - tomato sauce, garlic and herb seasonings, sea salt and parmesan cheese
Swedish Meatballs - beef stock, cream, black pepper, rosemary and soy sauce
Teriyaki Meatballs - black pepper, garlic salt, teriyaki sauce and sesame seeds
Everyone loves a good burger, and mini patties are a deliciously savory snack option. Choose from ground beef, turkey or chicken, then season the meat with your favorite spices. Grill them in small sections on the stovetop, and serve on mini buns with all the fixings. We recommend pairing the sliders with a round of homemade moscow mules in our Pure Copper Mule Mugs.
Aside from the classic ice-cold Moscow Mule, there are other delicious ways to create this tasty drink at home.
Since ginger is your base ingredient, you can add a variety of fruits into the mix. You can even add your favorite herbs.
For this article, we are going to explore different Moscow mule recipes with a fruity direction. We've decided to go for recipes that are quick and easy.
First in our list is this Straw-Scow Mule. As you might have guessed, you will be using strawberries for this recipe.
So, here's how you can re-create this drink. Make sure that you have 2 to 3 fresh strawberries on-hand. Cut them to 3 to 5 slices. Reserve one whole strawberry for garnishing. Then, put them in a shaker tin. Add a fresh lime juice - 1/2oz is enough into the shaker. Then, get your copper-plated muddler and smash the strawberry slices and lime juice together.
After muddling, add 2oz vodka and ice into the shaker tin. Then, shake well. Use a strainer and pour the mixture into your Advanced Mixology pure copper mug. Top the drink with ginger beer. Pro-Tip: chill the copper mug before pouring the mix.
The last step is garnish your drink with the reserved strawberry.
2-3 Strawberries, reserve one for garnishing
½oz. of fresh lime juice
4oz. ginger beer
If you are not a fan of strawberries, you can opt for this Moscow Water-Mule-On (no pun intended). For this one, you will be just replacing strawberries with watermelon. You will also add a sprig of mint.
Have three to five chunks of watermelon and place them in your shaker time. Pour 1/2oz of vodka into the mixture. Throw in some ice, and then shake. Strain the mixture into your hammered copper Moscow Mule Mug. Then, pour ginger beer and garnish with a watermelon slice. Don’t forget to add the mint sprig.
Last on our list is the Moscow Blue. Instead of watermelon or strawberries, you will be using Blueberries. This one is a bit more complex than the other two. You have to prepare first the Blueberry shrub. It’s advisable to make it ahead of time.
The ingredients of the Blueberry shrub are:
½ cup of water, ½ cup of apple cider vinegar, 1 cup of blueberries, and ¼ cup honey, agave, or simple syrup. You also need ½ teaspoon grated fresh ginger – this one is optional.
Take all these ingredients and put them in a blender. They should be fully liquified. Then, pour the mixture into a glass jar, and put in the refrigerator for at least 2 days. Then, strain into a new and clean glass jar.
Once your blueberry shrub is ready. Put 1.5oz of vodka and the blueberry shrub into a shaker tin. Add some ice as well. Then, shake. Use a strainer and pour the mixture into a barrel-style copper mug. Top it with a ginger beer. Garnish it with blueberries and a lime wheel.
Making a new drink is exciting, but sometimes it could be overwhelming especially when the recipe is complicated, your home bar is not properly stocked, and your skills are limited.
So, what do you do? Stick with recipes that are tasty, easy to make, and use supermarket-available ingredients. If you think the recipes below are for beginners, remember, just because a recipe is simple it doesn't mean you should skip or disregard it - there will always be a huge difference between a properly executed Martini and a poorly made one.
Ingredients: 1 oz. Whiskey 5 oz. Cold Ginger Ale Lemon
Preparation: 1. Cut lemon to three slices. Set aside. 2. Combine the liquid ingredients (1 oz. Whiskey and 5 oz. Cold Ginger Ale) in a glass. 3. Stir. 4. Add ice. 5. Add sliced lemon in the glass.
Ingredients: 1-1/2 oz Vodka .5 oz Apple Schnapps 1/2 oz Cointreau (Optional) Cherries
Preparation: 1. Combine all liquid ingredients in a shaker tin. 2. Shake well. 3. Pour it into a martini glass
Ingredients: 1/2 oz Lime juice 2 oz Vodka 4-6oz Ginger beer (Optional) Lime for garnishing
Preparation 1. Put 1/2 oz lime juice into 100% copper mug 2. Add vodka. Then, put ice. 3. Top with ginger beer 4. Garnish with a lime wheel
It’s the little things that elevate an experience from good to great. Whether it’s stopping to smell the flowers or the extra bit of love that makes mom’s cooking so delicious, we know it when we see it (or smell or taste it). So when you make a cocktail at home, for yourself or otherwise, don’t forget that the finishing touch to every drink is a beautiful and/or functional garnish. You’ll thank yourself for taking the time to do it right and whomever you hand a drink to will feel like you care, and you do, of course.
Garnishes can range from something simple and classy like a beautiful Luxardo cherry in the bottom of Manhattan to flashy and elaborate like the cornucopia that is served on top of a Bloody Mary at your local brunch spot. With only a few guidelines to learn, the rest is in mastering some basic techniques and letting your creativity run wild.
Our first installment of our Guide to Garnishes series will show you when and how to use citrus to garnish cocktails.
Citrus fruits are by far the most common form of garnish and they hold the highest honor for good reason, they are the most versatile both in terms of flavor and presentation. While lemons and limes are seen most often, oranges, blood oranges and grapefruit are also well respected and incredibly useful. An easy guideline to remember is that if a cocktail is from or modeled after a drink from Central or South America, garnish with a lime, if the drink is from or modeled after a cocktail from Europe, garnish with lemon. There is some room to play here, of course, but this is a good general rule. You can utilize citrus as a peel, wheel or wedge.
When garnishing with a peel, “express” it over the drink by holding the exterior side toward the top of the drink and squeezing the long edges together. This will spray the citrus oils onto the top of the cocktail. Then rub the exterior of the fruit along the rim of the glass to impart some of the oils into each sip. You can either drop the peel into the drink, curl it up and hang it on the rim or slide it onto a cocktail pick.
To garnish with a wheel of citrus simply slice the fruit the short way (in the direction that produces circles rather than ovals) with a serrated knife. You can then drop the fruit into your cocktail as is or cut a slit from the exterior to the center and slide it onto the rim of the glass.
Cut your citrus in half the long way and then in quarters or eights to make wedge garnishes. You can slit and slide onto the rim or simply toss into your cocktail.
It's one of our favorites because it's delicious and easy to recreate. The ingredients are also available at your nearest grocery store.
Here's how you can make it at home.
You will need two kiwis - one for garnish and the other for muddling. You should also pick-up fresh lime juice, mint, simple syrup, gin, and soda water.
Ingredients 2 kiwis 2 sprigs of mint 1 oz. fresh lime juice .75 oz simple syrup 2 oz. gin Splash of soda water
Once you have the ingredients, the first step is to take the one kiwi and slice it. Put three slices into the shaker tin. Then, add 1 oz. of fresh lime juice.Get your muddler (don't have one? You can get our stainless steel muddler here). Muddle the lime juice and kiwi.
Then, add the other ingredients - simple syrup, gin and mint. Add ice and shake well.
Pour the contents of the shaker into a high ball or collins glass. Don't forget to use a strainer. Add a splash of soda. Take the other kiwi and slice. Garnish your drink.
1. Cut the kiwi into three slices. 2. Add kiwi & lime juice to shaker tin 3. Muddle well 4. Add simple syrup, gin and mint 5. Add ice & Shake well 6. Strain into high ball or collins class 7. Splash with soda 8. Slice the other kiwi. Use it as a garnish. You can also add mint leaves.
You’re into wine (as you should be), and you’ve run across a few bottles in your wine adventures that you just can’t imagine living without, so you bought a couple to save for a trip down memory lane in a few years. Now what do you do? You’ve been eyeing that tall dark and handsome wine fridge but haven’t pulled the trigger. Let’s take a look at some storage solutions for the nectar of the gods and see if a wine fridge works for you.
There are three factors that determine a good storage solution for wine: light, temperature and moisture.
Vintners use dark glass to bottle their wines to shield their labor of love from the destruction of UV rays. Sunlight will degrade or prematurely age wine. Don’t just rely on the dark bottle to do the heavy lifting, step number one is to keep your bottles in a place that is not hit by direct sunlight.
When wine is heated to over 70 degrees fahrenheit it begins to age more quickly. Hotter temperatures can actually “cook” the wine, resulting in a flat wine with only a hint of the flavors you bought it for. Step number two is to keep your wine in a place where the temperature is consistently somewhere between 45 and 65 degrees, the most important factor being that there are no temperature spikes.
Wines that are bottled with a traditional cork require humidity to ensure the cork doesn’t dry out. A dry cork can allow air to seep in and oxidize the wine. This is what is meant when a wine has been “corked.” A humidity of 70% is said to be ideal but anywhere between 50% and 80% will keep your corks happy.
Where to keep it
Wine fridges can handle all of these tasks, so should you invest in one? That will depend on a couple of things. Let’s consider that most wines are best within a few years of purchase, so if you’re planning on keeping multiple bottles for 10 or more years, you may want to look at professional storage. Secondly, consider how much you’re spending on wine to save in a year. A $200 wine fridge may not be worth storing $200 worth of wine, but if you have $1,000 worth of wine to save, you’re protecting your investment.
A cool, dark place in your house or apartment (like a closet in a room that is consistently temperature controlled) may work best for a modest collection.
What to look for in a wine fridge
Bottle capacity might be the most important feature, however many you think you’d like to store, double it. Building a wine collection is addicting. If your wine fridge will live in a room that has a lot of sunlight, consider a dark glass door in order to keep your wine away from UV rays. Some include dual temperature zones so you can store reds long term and have whites chilled for immediate drinking. How easy is it to admire and get to your bottles? The more often you’ll be pulling wine from the fridge, the more important this will be.
When you’re ready to open that special bottle you’ve been saving, enjoy it in a beautiful glass like these. Whether you’re saving a couple or a couple hundred bottles a year, cheers to your growing collection!
Blood and Sand is a classic Scotch-based cocktail inspired by a 1922 movie entitled Blood and Sand. Starring Rudolph Valentino, the silent-movie revolves around a Spaniard (played by Valentino), who struggled with life and became a famous and successful matador. Unfortunately, he met a tragic end.
How does the movie connects to the drink? The cocktail's Heering cherry liquer represents the blood while its orange juice is the sand. Put them together and you have a cocktail with odd choice of ingredients, but exceptionally delicious taste.
Here's how you can make Blood and Sand at home:
Ingredients .75 oz Blood orange juice .75 oz Sweet Vermouth .75 oz Cherry Heering .75 oz Blended Scotch
Preparation 1. Add all ingredients to a shaker tin. Then, shake.
Each month we hand select a prominent barkeep to share their best Moscow Mule recipe along with a home bartending tip or two. This month, try the Whiskey Ginger Mule by Molly Wellmann.
When Molly’s not flashing her signature smile while serving fresh libations at one of her six establishments, you can find her in the kitchen creating homemade bitters and liqueurs or giving lectures on the history of cocktails. Molly is more than a bartender, this hip Cincinnati entrepreneur has been raising the bar for drinking her city for the past 10 years. Through her company, Wellmanns Brands, Molly celebrates the rich cultural history of the Cincinnati by creating unique experiences in each one of her establishments; and no matter the theme or inspiration, you can always count on a delicious cocktails made with fresh homemade ingredients. We sat down with Molly to learn more about her inspiration for the Whiskey Ginger Mule and tips for making cocktail magic.
How did you get started bartending?
I put myself through school cocktail-ing and bartending in San Francisco. When I moved back home to Cincinnati, I just fell head first into bartending at local restaurants, using fresh ingredients to create classic drinks all over town, and matching the cocktails to the food in the restaurants where I was working! At the time, no one else was doing that in Cincinnati, and it just kind of spiraled after that!
Tell me about your company Wellmanns Brands and what makes it successful?
Wellmann’s Brands is about creating an experience when you walk in the bar. Being knowledgeable, precise, welcoming and approachable, are all key in creating this experience for each and every guest, every time they walk through our doors.
Where do you currently work behind the stick?
Lately, I've been spending a lot of time at Japp’s for Friday Happy Hours, and rotating Saturdays between Myrtle's Punch House and Old Kentucky Bourbon Bar.
What’s your favorite part of your job?
My favorite part of bartending is making people happy and being creative!
I love giving people the opportunity to share my passion. When people come in after a long day, they sit down, and I get to make them smile, helping them begin the end of their day.
What’s the most unusual ingredient you have used in a cocktail?
I'd have to say, my Tobacco bitters. It’s my only secret recipe, and we use this ingredient primarily in our Marlboro Man cocktail!
What’s your favorite drink that you make at home?
At home, I like to pour a really fine bourbon into a glass! Haha! OR , I love a good martini! I like to make myself a Beefeater martini on the rocks, slightly dirty, with three olives!
You've tried our Blackberry Basil smash recipe. Now, we introduce to you yet another fruity and refreshing concoction cocktail recipe for you to try.
Instead of using blackberry and basil, you will be using (you guessed it right) watermelon. To enhance its overall taste, you will be adding mint and cucumber to this cocktail. Of course, it wouldn't be complete without alcohol. For this one, our choice of alcohol is vodka. You can swap it out to your preferred liqueur.
To get started, make sure that you gather these ingredients:
3 cubes watermelon 6 thin slices cucumber 4 sprigs mint .75 oz. simple syrup 1 oz. lime juice 1.5 oz. vodka
The entire process is effortless and very straight-forward. First step is to take your watermelon, mint, cucumber, simple syrup, lime juice and vodka and put them in a shaker tin. Muddle these ingredients. Don't have a muddler at home? We have it on stock. Get it here. Then, add ice and shake well.
Grab a glass and put ice. You can also put thinly sliced cucumbers. Strain the cocktail directly into the glass. For garnishing, simply put watermelon slice and some mint leaves into the glass.
Viola! Another fruity cocktail that you can enjoy at home.
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