Host with the Most
Every holiday, I love inviting my mates and neighbors over for a cocktail or three. But no one likes being shackled to the kitchen sink shaking and straining drinks all night long while the thirsty guests revel in the other room. Here are a few cocktail tricks that just might have your guests fixing drinks for you...
If, like most normal people, you’d rather be a part of the party than the one dishing drinks, it’s always a good idea to have a few cocktail tricks up your sleeve to encourage your friends to fix their own drinks; and one for you while they’re at it…
The ‘Perfect Every Time’ Vodka Martini
For the demanding friend that insists on drinking only vodka martinis (and is allergic to any form of cocktail equipment) this is the quickest and easiest way for you to avoid the eternal ‘shaken or stirred’ debate and replace it with the more important Daniel Craig or Pierce Brosnan deliberation.
Place some cocktail glasses into your freezer.
Remove 150ml (9oz) from a 750ml bottle of Belvedere Vodka and treat yourself to a couple of post-party cocktails (or save for the punch below).
Add 100ml (6oz) of chilled mineral water and 50ml (3oz) of premium dry vermouth into the bottle of Belvedere. I prefer Vya or Noily Prat.
Replace the screw cap and gently shake to mix the ingredients. Freeze overnight, ideally, but a good couple of hours in the freezer is long enough if the party is swinging and you’re running low. Once ready to serve, remove a glass from the freezer and pour. Garnish accordingly. One bottle will serve approximately 10 martinis depending on the voracity of your guests’ thirst. It’s always a good idea to put a little note either on the freezer or somewhere nearby to alert your guests of the vodka treasure trove hidden inside.
A well-made punch is the workhorse of the holiday season; the scrumptious convivial cocktail treat that quenches the thirst of many without you having to lift a finger; well OK, perhaps one small pinky. Punches are a little more high maintenance at the beginning of the night - when proportions are important and flavour is the priority - but by the end of the evening you’ll find your guests happily inventing and mixing their own creations like a merrier opening scene from Macbeth.
Belvedere IX Hot Buttered Cranberry Punch
5 cups unsweetened pineapple juice
5 cups cranberry juice
1 cup brown sugar, packed
2 cups cranberry sauce
1 1/2 cups water
1 teaspoon whole cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
1/2 cup butter, or pats of butter
2 cups Belvedere IX
In a large saucepan or stock pot, combine the juices, brown sugar, cranberry sauce and water. Tie the whole cloves and cinnamon sticks in cheesecloth and add to the pot. Bring to a low boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 1 hour or longer. Just before serving, stir in Belvedere IX , and the butter. The butter will float on top and may need to be replenished from time to time, or float a small pat of butter in each cup. Serve in mugs or heat-resistant punch cups. Makes 30 to 35 (4oz) servings.
For the cold punches, I’d recommend creating an ice mold that will keep your punches colder for longer and reduce the dilution you will get if you use ice cubes. Alternatively, serve the punch in glasses over ice. To make an ice mold, purchase several small circular Jell-O molds, or use small round plastic containers. Fill with mineral water and freeze. When frozen solid (approximately 3-4 hours in a domestic freezer, but better overnight) run the mold/container under a warm tap to release the ice and place into your punch bowl.
Belvedere Black Raspberry Cup
1 bottle Belvedere Black Raspberry
1 bottle Cape Mentelle Sauvignon Blanc
4 oz crème de peche
2 oz apricot liqueur
1 small box of fresh raspberries
1 apricot cut into slices
2 peaches cut into slices
6 oz old fashioned lemonade
In a punch bowl, combine ingredients and stir. Chill in fridge until ready to serve. Add the ice mold and serve.
Jerry’s Pineapple Cup
Peel, slice and cut up a ripe pineapple punch bowl and add:
1 bottle Belvedere Citrus
7 slices of fresh orange
2 oz (50ml) raspberry syrup
2 oz (50ml) maraschino liqueur
Handful fresh raspberries
One bottle Moet & Chandon Nectar Rose NV
Garnish with raspberries and mint, and serve.
*Variation on Jerry Thomas recipe: 1862
Spiced Orange Cream Soda
280ml Belvedere Orange
140ml spiced syrup
35ml lemon Juice
550ml soda water
40x cubeb berries (I used 40x juniper berries and 40x black peppercorns as no cubeb was available)
1x star anise
1x vanilla pod
200g white sugar
Crush all ingredients and bring to boil. Lower heat and simmer until liquid has been reduced by 1/4. Strain out all solids and chill in fridge. To serve, add all ingredients and stir with ice. Strain into a bowl filled with ice. Add chunks of grapefruit, lemons and limes to the bowl for aesthetics. Garnish with a grapefruit twist.
So, you’ve dazzled them with your Perfect Vodka Martini, they’ve drunk all the punch, and all you have left are a few random ingredients. It's time to host a Cocktail 101 in the kitchen and show your pals a few simple drinks; they’ll thank you for it when it’s their turn to host you…
If, like me, your parties tend to empty your store cupboards, think about knocking up some mint simple syrup ahead of time and keep it in the fridge. This can be added to any of the Belvedere’s for a fresh take on the classic drink. Also, since a well made syrup can add complexity and interest to any drink, have a think about making a few others:
Chamomile Tea Syrup
In a large pan bring some mineral water to a boil and add 10 chamomile teabags. Allow to stew for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the bags and add in some superfine sugar. Stir until the chamomile tea begins to thicken and become syrupy in consistency. Cool and bottle. This will keep for up to 10 days when refrigerated. Perfect shaken with Belvedere Citrus and a splash of soda, or added to Moet & Chandon.
Earl Grey Tea Syrup
Similar process as Chamomile Tea Syrup, except the stewing time should be no longer than 1-2 minutes to reduce the amount of tannins extracted from the tea. Try shaking with Belvedere Intense for an aromatic martini, garnish with a lemon twist.
10 fresh pomegranates
700g caster sugar
800ml (24oz) mineral water
Scrape out the insides of the pomegranates, and place them in a large pan. Discard the skins. Add the water and 100g of the sugar and bring to a boil. Simmer for 20 minutes, and remove from the heat. Add the rest of the sugar, stirring to dissolve. Leave to cool and then strain through a sieve, and then again through a muslin cloth. Try shaken with Belvedere Orange and lemon juice or served tall with Belvedere Citrus and fresh lemonade.
*Adapted from Andy Campana’s recipe.
These can then be added to any Belvedere for an instant cocktail. Top with soda water - if you have any left.
The Collins/Lemon Drop
If you have some lemons/limes and sugar, you’re always golden. Great if you have some soda water knocking around too; a perfect opportunity to show how to make a vodka lemonade:
1oz lemon juice
½ simple syrup
1.5 oz Belvedere Vodka (any)
Top with soda. Shake all ingredients with ice and top with soda. Leave out the soda for a classic Lemon Drop Shooter. If you’re not sure about your guests’ ability to accurately measure their quantities, be kind and produce a homemade sweet and sour mix (1:05 - lemon: simple syrup)
Do not forward these materials to anyone below the legal purchasing age. Belvedere Vodka is a quality choice. Drinking responsibly is too.