Cocktails offer a delicious and trendy way to entertain at home to celebrate special occasions or seasonal holidays. These delectable-looking drinks set the tone for an evening of flavorful fun and excitement.
Yet preparing hand-crafted cocktails for a crowd – or even guests at a small dinner party – can be time-consuming. As well as overwhelming.
As an easy solution, simply follow the advice of many home entertaining specialists and prepare everything in advance.
Sarah Tracey of The Lush Life XYZ website writes a column about wine, spirits, and home entertainment for Martha Stewart online. Even if you have never explored the site, you can imagine it focuses on picture-perfect presentations of food, wine, and spirits.
Ms. Tracey advises hosts to keep things simple when they entertain at home. “When I first started entertaining, I was excited to show off my mixologist skills,” she says.
“I invited many friends over for cocktails with the idea of crafting each drink individually. Soon I found myself overwhelmed with the drink-making and little time to socialize with my guests.”
Cocktail Mixes: The Solution?
Visit any supermarket or grocery store today, and you’ll likely see several people turning the bottle or can to inspect the ingredients. And perhaps for good reason.
Most prepackaged items have a long litany of ingredients, many of them artificial. These enhance the flavor or longevity of the product. This includes cocktail mixes as well. These traditionally have artificial flavors, colors, and high fructose corn syrup.
Recently Ms. Tracey was approached by Cocktail Artist®, a company that developed a portfolio of cocktail mixes and bar ingredients. They asked if she’d serve as the brand ambassador for their Sangria Wine mix.
As Ms. Tracey admits to being a label-reader herself, she studied the product to ensure it had none of the artificial ingredients or corn syrup common to other mixes. Seeing that it also met her flavor requirements, she agreed.
Sangria Mix: The Basics
Ms. Tracey has many suggestions for customizing the Sangria Wine mix for specific holiday and seasonal themes.
As the Sangria Wine Mix comes packaged as a liquid in a 24-ounce bottle, Ms. Tracey suggests using 2 ounces of the mix, four ounces of wine, and (if desired) one ounce of liqueur (vodka, brandy, rum) for each single-serving cocktail.
A Recipe and Presentation for Every Holiday
“If you are entertaining on your own, you might want to prepare a batch of Sangria in advance of your party. It’s also a good idea to fill a kitchen sink, or even a bathtub, with ice before your guests arrive,” she says.
Ms. Tracey likes to create a theme for her parties when using the Sangria Wine Mix, based on seasons and holidays. “For autumn, I like to use spiced rum and apple cider as the base of the recipe.,” she says.
“The apple cider should be dry, yet you can use a sparkling cider as well. In terms of presentation, for an individual serving you might garnish with a thinly sliced red apple studded with cloves,” she continues. “Then rim the glass with cinnamon sugar, and top it all off with a festive cinnamon stick.”
“For a large batch in a punch bowl, make an ice ring in a silicone mold or even a Bundt pan with artfully arranged apple and lemon slices,” Ms. Tracey advises.” It’s a showstopper and will keep the Sangria cool as the ice slowly melts throughout your party.”
For Valentine’s Day, Ms. Tracey might use the mix with red wine with pomegranate juice. She adds that the POM Wonderful brand is widely available, although many stores have their own house brands as well. For an attractive look, she advises adding a spoonful of fresh pomegranate seeds when you are ready to serve.
“You can get creative garnishing with fresh herbs as well. A sprig of rosemary is a fragrant and beautiful touch.
When served as a punch, the host might further decorate the area around the bowl with greenery, herbs, and even fresh blood oranges, whole or sliced, or pomegranates,” Ms. Tracey explains.
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