Friday, August 14, 2015
I love to entertain, and I've spent the last couple of decades learning from my party planning mistakes. Especially when it comes to cocktails. One of the most surprising lessons I learned is that, when a party guest asks for a drink, you should never just point at a stocked bar and say "help yourself!"
And not for the reason you'd think. Turns out, the average party goer offered free reign will, surprisingly often, opt for a glass of water. Reasons are all over the place, but in general it's just too overwhelming.
After many years of leftover party beverages and wondering what on earth I was doing wrong, I finally figured out that my guests enthusiastically consumed beverage selections limited in scope, mixed ahead of time and carefully coordinated with the party's theme and menu. The whole time I'd been trying very hard not to tell them what they had to drink, and apparently what they wanted was for me to tell them what to drink.
Which brings me to this 7 way summertime drink station. I recently threw a casual summer cookout and wanted to offer several refreshing options for both kids and adults with a minimum of fuss, counter space and ingredients. This is what I came up with!
Drink Station Features
Large dispenser of lemonade
Large dispenser of iced tea (unsweetened, brewed fresh)
Squeeze bottle of simple syrup (I do a more saturated 1.5 c sugar / 1 c water)
Bottle of Bushmills Irish Honey (it has to be exactly this)
Bottle of vodka (your preferred brand, not pictured)
Ice bucket (not pictured)
I should also note that I froze portions of the iced tea and lemonade in bundt pans overnight to float in the dispensers. This helped keep it cold much longer, and greatly reduced the constant hassle of restocking the ice bucket.
When I do this again, I'll label the containers and post a list of the combinations above the station to eliminate the need to repeat the explanation as new guests arrive. Because apparently I'm the only one nutty enough to think this is self explanatory.
1) Iced tea (unsweetened)
2) Sweet tea (sweetened to taste by guests with simple syrup)
3) Arnold Palmer (half tea, half lemonade)
5) Vodka & Lemonade
6) Bushmills & Lemonade (a current favorite)
7) Arnold Palmer & Bushmills*
*I've spent the better part of the last decade in search of the elusive spirit to mix with an Arnold Palmer without tasking like blech. The tea is a tough taste to blend. So when I tried the Bushmills Honey... it was like a choir of angels singing the Hallelujah Chorus.
As cocktails go, the possibilities are endless. Personally, if I hadn't run out of gin the day before I'd also have added that to the station because gin & lemonade is delightful.
It's no secret that I come from rednecks, so sweet tea and Arnold Palmers are my summertime raison d'etre. But if that isn't your style, just use the concept as a springboard for your own station.
Have you ever done a multi-mix drink station? I'd love to hear what combinations you featured!
I pinned this post to my Entertaining Inspiration board.