Planning a Party

GIVING A PARTY AND ENJOYING IT

Every so often when hosting a party, you find yourself spending more time in the kitchen getting things together than with your guests. A situation nobody is happy with. So plan well in advance and pre-prepare both the bar and the dinner. Do not try and do everything on the last day – you do not want to be exhausted and irritable at your own party.

Let the type of party determine your drink menu. For a formal, sit-down dinner, stick to straight drinks or simple highballs and wine. You obviously want to impress here, which means buy only top-shelf or the best brands available. Use the best glasses you have, and if you want to be really elegant, pour your mixers and water into nice carafes or jugs. Crystal decanters for spirits are a nice touch; be warned though, some people tend to think you’ve used an inferior brand and the decanter is for effect!

If the party is not so formal yet small (6-8 people), you could plan a `cocktails only’ evening. Do not get carried away and have a pile of choices. That is asking for trouble. Choose four – two shaken and two stirred or built up – after figuring out what flavours your guests like best and stick to them. For a larger gathering, it is always best to make a large punch. Everyone helps themselves and life is peaceful. You could get fancy and have three punch bowls instead of one. I think the idea of one big punch is antiquated and rather boring. Most people like a choice and you have the opportunity to get really creative.

Ice In Quantity:

If ready cubed ice is available in your city, get yourself the required quantity. Make sure they pack it in an well-insulated container or bag it in usable quantities in your freezer. Alternately, put the ice bags in your vacuum cleaner – no puddles on the floor, will stay insulated, no issues of draining. Am sure you think I’m completely nuts but I assure you it works!

When one thinks punch, one automatically conjures up visions of this large bowl of slush swimming with all kinds of fruit. Not necessarily true. You could turn most of your favourite drinks, shaken ones excluded, into a wonderful punch. Bloody Mary, Planter’s Punch, Long Island Iced Tea, Cosmopolitan, Margarita… The list is endless. All you have to do is multiply the quantities, pour over a large block of ice and put the garnish in. If it uses any aerated drinks, pour them in just before service. In fact, make the whole lot in a big bowl in the morning, liquor and all, then pour it over the ice, along with the bubbly stuff, when the guests are ready. And ask them to lend a hand. Most of them will be only too happy to oblige. Who does not want to be where the action is?

GETTING READY:

The number and types of people you have invited would dictate what quantity and brands of spirits to buy. It is always wise to ask for preferences – so speak to your guests. To be safe, calculate an average of three drinks per person in each category and then some. Average servings to help you determine quantities are;

Spirits – 25 drinks (30 ml) to a 750 ml bottle

Wine – 5-6 glasses to the bottle

Beer – 2 mugs to a bottle

It is fine to have leftovers; to run out is a dreadful embarrassment.

LINERS:

Some snacks are a must along with the drinks. They keep the stomach lined, helping the alcohol get absorbed into the bloodstream at a slower rate. Do not overdo them though, especially if you are serving dinner. Avoid oily and spicy snacks and stick to salad with dip, cheese and cracker biscuits and light canapés. Cheesy popcorn – popcorn grilled with grated cheese and tossed makes an interesting snack. If you must have nuts, serve only a short round of any one kind. Too many nuts can make the stomach churn and that signals the end of a carefully planned meal.

Actually, one can do away with dinner completely and stick to an informal salad, cold cut, cheese and bread buffet. Throw in some barbecue, pizza or quiche and you are on top.

Points To Remember:

The Bar:

* Plan the cocktail menu in advance, then calculate the amount of liquor and other ingredients you will need. An overstocked bar is better than running out.

* Ready the bar – squeeze juices, prepare garnishes and lay out the glasses to make the process of mixing quicker.

* Always allow two glasses per person for each type of drink served.

* Be sure that the glasses are clean and polished and are not chipped or smudged.

* Have plenty of clean, clear, aged ice on hand.

The Room:

* Set the table.

* Have the music ready.

*  Scatter ashtrays everywhere – do not forget the bathroom!

* Place bowls of snacks around.

* Keep paper napkins in a prominent place.

* Keep a separate table for water tumblers and flasks of cold water.

 

Cosmo by the Pitcher

  • 1 bottle Smirnoff Citrus Twist
  • 1 bottle Smirnoff Orange Twist
  • juice of 10 limes
  • 2 tetra packs Cranberry juice

 

Method:

 

Put the above ingredients in a pitcher and blend for a minute using a hand blender. Divide and pour into 2 pitchers filled 3/4th with ice and strain into cold martini glasses or pour on the rocks.

Russian Summer by the Pitcher

  • 1/3  btl Manama peach & apricot dessert topping
  • juice of 6/8 limes
  • 5-6 mint leaves
  • lemonade or soda to blend
  • large jug of crushed ice

Method:

Fill ¾ of a 2.5 lt jug with crushed ice and pour all ingredients over the ice. Add a little lemonade or soda and blend for 2-3 minutes using a hand blender till nice and slushy. It’s ready!  Adjust the taste according to your preference. Pour into salt-rimmed margarita or martini or all purpose wine glasses.

EQUIP YOURSELF

As in any other field, tools of the trade are an essential part of mixing drinks. Most of these are what you would find easily in your kitchen, while others you might have to look for in speciality shops or at a good supermarket.

Here is a list of basic tools which make mixing and serving cocktails, easier.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MIXING EQUIPMENT

1. Cocktail shaker – both the 3 piece Stainless Steel & the 2 piece Boston

2. Long mixing spoon

3. Peg measure (hourglass type) with 30ml and 60ml measures

4. Ice bucket and tongs

5. Plastic kitchen strainers

6. Can opener

7. Bottle opener

8. Cutting board and knife

9. Peeling knife

10.Bottle stoppers

11.Lemon squeezer

12.Juicer

13.Blender/Mixer

14.Tablespoons, teaspoons and plates

15.Wiping cloths

16.Cork screw or high tech auto wine openers

17.Grater

18.Jugs/carafes/decanters to hold juice.

 

SERVICE EQUIPMENT

1. Glasses

2. Decanters

3. Cocktail sticks

4. Stirrers

5. Ashtrays

6. Toothpicks

7. Long and short straws

8. Paper napkins

9. Napkin Stands

10. Coasters & trays

ALL ABOUT GLASSES

Certain types of glassware are traditional for specific drinks and this is no accident. Take for instance a Martini or a Pina Colada. These drinks are stirred and shaken respectively with ice and strained into stemmed glasses. This is so that the heat from your palm does not warm the drink before it is consumed. Stemmed glassware, logically, is not required when the drink is served with ice. If used at all, it is more for a stylish presentation rather than from necessity.

To a connoisseur however, the quality of the glassware is of utmost importance. This is especially true in the service of wines. For years experts have been waxing eloquent on the effect a perfect glass can have on total dining experience. Anyone, they say, who has had to drink fine wine out of a thick-walled glass or sip an aromatic liqueur from a clumsy shot glass, will attest to that. Wouldn’t your eyes gleam with appreciation when you hold an exquisitely crafted, fragile, work of art in your hand?

Ideal Glasses

These are easily available at most good glassware shops. Stick to plain, clear glassware and avoid those with a lot of design. The impact of a good-looking cocktail is best felt when it can be seen properly, without ornate glassware to obstruct its view.

You do need to be careful while buying glasses though. Check each glass for chips and uneven surfaces. The best way to do this is to glide your fingertips very lightly over the rim of the glass. Next, hold it against the light to detect the presence of streaks, waves or bubbles.

Use the same guidelines even when buying expensive crystal. In addition, make the glass ring with a flick of your fingernail – a clear, pure, long lasting ring will tell you that you have the right thing.

If you do not have access to good crystal, let it not depress you. I have served umpteen cocktails in ordinary glassware with as much style and pizzazz as you could want. It is how you garnish and present the drink that finally makes the difference.

Stemmed Glasses                

1. Martini glass

2. All purpose wine glass

3. Hurricane glass

4. Champagne tulip

5. Margarita glass

6. Champagne flute

Straight Glasses

1. Collins glass

2. Highball glass

3. Old fashioned glass

4. Shot glass

5. Chimney glass

6. Beer mug

Styles of Rocks glasses

Styles of Tall

Styles of Beer

Styles of Martini & Margarita

Styles of Shots

Styles of Wine

There are, of course, plenty of other types of glassware in the market. But you can serve almost any cocktail to advantage with those shown here. You also save on storage space and reduce breakage.

Handle With Care

Whether your glassware is expensive crystal or cheaper ware, take great care of it. Wash each glass separately in reasonably hot water, rinse, and after draining the water, let it dry on its own. Handle glasses by the stem or base so that fingerprints do not smudge them. Polish off smudges with a soft wiping cloth.

NON-ALCOHOLIC MIXERS

JUICES

CARBONATED BEVERAGES

CRUSHES & CONCENTRATES

SYRUPS & PUREES

OTHERS

NON-ALCOHOLIC MIXERS

Juices

Choose from the plenty that are available in tetra packs – Dabur Real, Tropicana, Saint, Godrej, Ceres…

Carbonated Beverages

Your favourite cola, lemonade, diet cola, bitter lemon, tonic, ginger ale…

Crushes & Concentrates

Manama is my favourite. But there’s Mapro, Mala, Fun Foods & more

They have a wide range of flavours to choose from ranging from the popular strawberry & litchi to kiwi, blackcurrant, blueberry, peach-apricot & more

Choose dessert toppings or crushes in fruit concentrates as opposed to fruit cordials

Manama ginger lime cordial is super

Syrups & Purees

These concentrated syrups are special as they allow you to use them in place of your favourite liqueur

Monin & Teisseire have the best ranges available. We’re hoping they’ll hit the retail market soon, but if you want them, mail us and we’ll make sure they get to you!

Monin has also brought in fruit purees that are great for frozen drinks, shakes & smoothies. Expensive but then, all good things…

The best of the flavours from Monin are: Green apple, Hazelnut, Peach, Café, Vanilla….

Amongst the purees Beery, coconut, passion fruit are doing well.

And the best flavours from Teisseire are: Peach, Caramel, Banana, Mojito mint, Fraise, Blueberry…..

 

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