As co-owner of the Clover Club in Brooklyn and Flatiron Lounge in Manhattan (among others), Julie Reiner is one of the doyennes of the modern cocktail movement.
Simply said, she knows a thing or two about drinks — and entertaining. In her new book “The Craft Cocktail Party” (with Kaitlyn Goalen), the seasons act as a backdrop to various festivities be they a Tiki party (Blue Hawaii anyone?) or Thanksgiving.
Each recipe is graced with a short history lesson or contextual paragraph, so you will know what you are drinking and why. In the summer section, Reiner explores the bounties of the farmer’s market. In the winter portion, she offers up a welcoming chapter called “Fireside Sippers.” There’s even a collection of recipes in honor of Repeal Day. Useful tips such as “DIY Bar Set Up” and “How to Rinse a Glass” round out what is an easy-reading, flip-able book with ideas — and stunning photographs — at the turn of every page.
Chilled spoke to Reiner about entertaining and she offered up five, very logical tips to keep in mind. Print this little list out and stick it on your frig before you throw a party. You might save yourself a few headaches along the way. And, for those of you who haven’t already rushed out to purchase the book yet, look below the tips where you’ll find a few recipes directly from the book to whet your whistle.
Reiner’s Party Tips
- Choose the cocktails and punches you will serve ahead of time, and prep accordingly. Serving some special cocktails will make for a much more memorable event than just putting out a bunch of bottles and mixers. Don’t forget to have something for your tee totaling friends as well.
- Carefully select your guest list! Invite people who have similar interests and will get along.
- Think about the music and vibe you want to create. Make sure it is appropriate for the occasion and that the music level is conducive to conversation.
- Food is an important element of any party. Make sure that it is plentiful, but easily consumed in one bite. I always try to choose things that can be made ahead and sit at room temperature like stuffed mushrooms, mini spanakopita, crostini served with toppings on the side to spoon on yourself, and cheese and charcuterie are no brainers.
- Relax and enjoy! A cocktail party should be enjoyed by everyone, including the host! If you have prepped ahead of time, you will be sure to enjoy the company of your guests and your cocktails!
This is one of the simplest recipes in the book and one of the first drinks people gravitate toward when I put it out at a party. Named for Hanalei (pronounced hawn-ah-lay) Bay on the north shore of Kauai, it’s a great first-time infusion experiment. It does require a bit of lead time, however: The mixture must sit for at least one week for maximum flavor, so plan accordingly.
- 1 Pineapple, peeled, cored, and cut into 1″ pieces
- 1 (750-ml) bottle Vodka or white rum
- Pineapple wedges, 1 per serving, for garnish
Preparation: Place the pineapple pieces and the vodka or rum in a large nonreactive metal or glass container with a lid. Cover and let sit for one week in the refrigerator, stirring it once a day. Strain the liquid through a fine-mesh sieve set over a bowl, allowing the fruit to sit in the strainer for 30 minutes so as to get all the liquid. Discard the fruit and funnel the infusion back into the original bottle and label. The infusion will keep for two weeks in the refrigerator.
To serve: Pour 3 1/2 oz. of the pineapple infusion into a shaker and shake with ice until chilled. Strain into a chilled coupe glass and garnish with a pineapple wedge.
Maria sin Sangre
Think of this drink as a Bloody Mary on the fly. Forget the canned tomato juice; here, the freshness of summer’s favorite fruit is muddled directly into the drink.
- 6 Cherry tomatoes
- 6 Basil leaves
- 1/2 oz. Simple syrup
- 2 oz. Blanco tequila (I recommend El Tesoro)
- 1/2 oz. Dry Sherry (I recommend Williams & Humbert medium-dry)
- 1/2 oz. Lemon Juice
- Pinch Salt and pepper
- 1 Cherry tomato and 1 basil leaf , for garnish
Preparation: In the bottom of a shaker, muddle the tomatoes and basil in the simple syrup. Add the tequila, sherry, lemon juice, salt, and pepper, and shake with ice until chilled. Double strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a coupe glass. To create the garnish, pierce a small hole in the top of the tomato and insert the stem of the basil leaf like a flag. Make a slit in the bottom of the tomato and perch the tomato on the rim of the glass.
Pro Tip: To make this drink in larger yields, pulse the tomatoes and basil in a food processor 5 or 6 times, then strain through a fine-mesh sieve or a piece of cheesecloth and discard the solids.
Sloe & Low
Sloe gin, an invention of the British, is infused with sloe berries. To bring that flavor to the fore, this drink calls for both raspberries and blackberries and is capped off by cherry-flavored maraschino liqueur.
- 1 1/2 oz. Gin (I recommend Plymouth)
- 1/2 oz. Sloe Gin (I recommend Plymouth Sloe Gin)
- 1 tsp. Maraschino liqueur (I recommend Luxardo)
- 3/4 oz. Lemon juice
- 1/2 oz. Berry syrup*
- Crushed ice
- 2 Raspberries and 1 blackberry, for garnish
Preparation: Shake both gins, maraschino liqueur, lemon juice, and syrup with cubed ice until chilled. Strain into a rocks glass filled with crushed ice. To garnish, spear the berries on a pick and lay it across the rim of the glass.
* Berry Syrup
Makes About 3 Cups, enough for about 30 drinks
I love to use berries in cocktails, but they can be a real mess. By making a syrup ahead of time, I can make drinks that capitalize on the flavor without the clean-up. This recipe leaves some room for improvisation. I prefer a mixture of raspberries and blackberries for a rich, tart flavor, but you could also go the route of the purist, using just raspberries or just blackberries. Strawberries and blueberries also work well.
- 1 cup Berries of your choosing (for the Sloe & Low, I use 1/2 cup blackberries and 1/2
- 2 cups Superfine sugar
- 1 cup Water
Preparation: In a saucepan, smash the berries into the sugar with a rubber spatula or the back of a spoon, then add water. Heat on low, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved; this should take no longer than 10 minutes. (Do not let the syrup come to a boil, as you will lose the bright, fresh berry flavor and end up with more of a cooked-berry-pie-tasting syrup.) Take the syrup off the heat and let it sit for 20 minutes. Strain the liquid through a fine-mesh sieve and discard the solids. The syrup will last two weeks in the refrigerator.