All posts filed under: Cocktail Hour

7 Steps to Making a Successful Toast

(Photo: Ira Lee Nesbit/Pixabay) It is an American tragedy, a weakness of our education system. We teach our children multiplication and division, a smattering of reading skills and how to use a condom, but never the ancient skill of the proper toast. Americans become tongue-tied when raising their glass at a colleague’s retirement dinner, a nephew’s graduation or a friend’s wedding. So let’s make 2017 the year we learn to make a toast. Of all the toasts in the toasting genre, the wedding toast is the most dangerous. It requires a bard’s wit and a magician’s sleight of hand. A wedding toast must be humorous and serious, spontaneous and heartfelt. It must celebrate our culture’s most sacred bond, marriage, with the most ephemeral of human emotions, love. Here is a handy guide to the steps of making a proper toast, using my own wedding from fifteen years ago as an example. Step 1: Establish the premise. As in any good story, from a dirty joke to David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas, there is always a basic …

5 Champagne Cocktails To Send 2016 Off Properly

(Photo: condesign/pixabay) A little bubbly never hurt anyone, and Champagne cocktails are indisputably one of the more elegant ways to celebrate, especially during the holidays. But what could you add to Champagne to make it any better, you might ask? Well, fine Cognac for one — and why not? This year has been a doozy. Here are five bubble-driven drinks to set it right: The French 75 Created around the time of Prohibition and ironically named after a WWI field gun, this drink packs a punch. When served in a flute, it can also make for an incredibly elegant and enticing toast. Though the French 75 was originally made with gin, I often prefer a rounder, richer choice of Cognac or, sometimes, bourbon. A lemon twist brightens the drink and adds a touch of class. Remember: Garnishes can make a room. French 75  1 oz Louis Royer Force 53 VSOP Cognac 1/2 oz fresh squeezed lemon juice 1/2 oz simple syrup Top with Champagne Directions: 1. Combine Cognac, lemon and simple syrup with ice into a cocktail shaker. 2. …

The White Zins of My Past

There are two types of pink wine: rosé and white zinfandel. Even the casual drinker knows they are only related by color and barely even at that. I wasn’t one of those kids who went to keg parties in the desert in high school — I was too busy in choir and theatre rehearsals or running track meets or working at the IHOP to have time for it. And, honestly, I thought I was better than those kids. (I was an early adopter of snobbery.) Aside from an unfortunate incident that involved a couple of older private school boys, a missed Roger Waters concert and a bottle of Almaden Mountain Chablis, I didn’t really drink at all until I went away to North Texas State University for college. It was my first time away from home and I was living in the “artists’ dorm,” so naturally two days in I ended up at a Sigma Tau Gamma party and the next thing I knew I was a “little sister” of the fraternity. Again, I thought …

12 Gifts for Aspiring Bartenders & Drink Lovers

Craft cocktails have skyrocketed in popularity over the last decade, moving some to try their hand at making these drinks at home for gatherings or for themselves; avoiding the $15 per drink cost. For those who want to revive the lost art of home hospitality and entertaining, or for those who just love the art of drinks, here’s a list of gifts that any expert or novice would love. 1. Tovolo Sphere Ice Molds  Ice is one of the most important things for bartenders to consider. If a stirred drink calls for a cube of ice or someone requests a whiskey on the rocks, a good bartender will reach for one solid hunk of clear ice both for appearance and to provide the slowest dilution rate possible — no one wants a watered down drink. Though bartenders in Japan will hand carve these spheres, these silicone molds are the easiest way to make them at home. $10, amazon.com 2. Cocktail Kit with Canvas and Leather Tote For those who love to travel and show off their …

Virgin Cocktail Cooler: The “Fizzy Lifting Drink” (Recipe)

  Before I had children, my friends would bring their kids to my home — and I was sometimes ill-prepared. As the only non-alcoholic beverages in our home were coffee and margarita mix, I needed to think fast. Since I’m a huge Willy Wonka fan, I invented this drink to encourage everyone to stay hydrated. Thankfully, this was the most popular and refreshing drink of the day for both the grownups and the little ones.   Ingredients: 1 can lemonade concentrate 2 of the empty cans of concentrate filled with club soda 1 of the empty cans of concentrate filled with ginger ale 1 lemon’s worth of lemon slices 1/4 cup sugar 1 1-gallon Ziploc-type bag of ice that has been smashed a few times with a mallet straws   Slice the lemon into round slices. Sprinkle both sides with sugar. Gently stir the concentrate, club soda and ginger ale together in a pitcher. Add smashed ice. Add the sugared lemon slices to the glasses and pour the lemonade concentrate mixture into the glasses. Serve with …