Mixing it up at the home show
The suave sixties ad men and their gorgeous wives and girlfriends on Mad Men have made mixing cocktails even cooler. And, with the entertaining season rapidly approaching, I figured I could use a few lessons on the topic! So, on Friday while perusing the Fall Home Show (more on that later), I made a point of sitting in on the cocktail session with Dee Brun.
Along with her mantra that "everything is better with vodka", she also taught us how to mix up some great cocktails (or mocktails) (check out the recipes here). And, to make it simple for us newbies, she only uses ingredients easily available at liquor and grocery stores, which means easy refills when you run out mid-party.
For a well-stocked bar cart, she recommends vodka, gin, rum, a fruity liqueur (she used the fabulously pink Xrated fusion liqueur at the show) and a lot of ice. Of course, a pretty shaker is also a must for all of us Mad Men wannabes.
Previously, I found mixing up a proper beverage a little bit daunting - I've always been more of a just pour and mix kind of gal, or, if I'm feeling adventurous, a little shake. But, after that session, not only did I want to drink but I also wanted to mix up a drink that required muddling -- or as she calls it "smushing." How could a squirt of simple syrup plus your item to be muddled and a few squishes with a spoon in a bowl have seemed so scary?
I also appreciated the styling tips! For pretty punch, Brun said she'll use a very tall rectangular vase, along with a long soup ladle. Isn't that so much trendier than your grandmother's enormous punch bowl? And instead of a clunky ice bucket, she brought out a small square glass vase filled with ice.
She also gets creative with the garnishes. To jazz up her chili martini (which includes peach juice, grape juice, muddled chili pepper and vodka) she showed rimming a martini glass with Cajun pepper, topping it with cranberries in a wine glass for a festive Thanksgiving look or garnishing it with a hot pepper in a highball glass for the manly men in your life. And, she says, you can make it as spicy as you like.
Another highlight was what she calls the "Canadian Liquid Breakfast Martini, Eh?" While I didn't taste test this one, other audience members said it tasted just like blueberry pancakes! With a mix of blueberries, maple syrup and, of course, vodka, doesn't it sound like a great thing to ease your way through those holiday brunches? Did I mention it can be rimmed with icing sugar?
What libations will you be serving this weekend? What are your tricks for the perfect cocktail (or mocktail)?