How to throw an amazing holiday cocktail party

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AppleMartini‘Tis the season to be jolly…and inebriated! Ahhh the holidays, that cherished time of year when everyone gets all warm and cheery, and once again has the perfect excuse to be more smashed than usual thanks to the multitude of festivities taking place. In light of the spirit, we are going to pretend for a minute to be refined (ha) and share with you how to revel in holiday cheer in a slightly more sophisticated fashion by hosting a fun and festive cocktail party that is guaranteed to warm the hearts and cloud the memories of all your near and dear ones…

Here’s how:

1. Ingredients. First, you will need to make a market run to gather all the essential ingredients necessary to whip up your delicious concoctions and provide a few finger snacks for your party guests. Take this handy checklist with you!

a. First and foremost, you will need liquor, and lots of it! Necessary poisons include: vodka, gin, brandy, rum (preferably Bacardi Grand Melon), and champagne

b. You will also need the following mixers: vermouth, grenadine, liqueur, amaretto, club soda, juices (cranberry, orange, lemon, lime, pineapple, olive and POM), cinnamon schnapps, simple syrup, coconut cream, white creme de cacao, and orange curacao

c. Beer for those who don’t ‘do martinis’ (aka the guys). Try a spiced seasonal one.

d. Olives, cherries, apple slices, rosemary sprigs, almonds, milk chocolate, miniature candy canes, white chocolate shavings, and whipped cream

e. Seasonal fruits, strawberries, cheeses, crackers, baguette, hummus, shrimp, and cocktail sauce for the snacks

f. Cocktail shaker

g. Martini glasses, pint glasses, and shot glasses

h. Plastic toothpicks, stirrers, and bottle openers

i. Plates and napkins

2. Menu. Now that you have all the necessary inebriation-inducing ingredients, you will need to know how to put them together. Here we provide a food and cocktail menu with instructions on how to make each item.  (Tip: We highly recommend either recruiting a friend with bartending experience or that you start working on your own bartending skills at least a few days in advance, as some of the recipes can be fairly involved!)

From the Bar

Classic Dirty Martini
-3 oz gin (interchangeable with vodka depending on individual preference)
-1 teaspoon dry vermouth
-1 tablespoon olive juice
-2-3 olives

Add all ingredients minus olives into cocktail shaker with ice and strain into chilled martini glass. Place toothpick with desired amount of olives into glass.

Cranberry Martini
-2 oz vodka
-1 oz liqueur
-1 oz cranberry juice
-1 teaspoon cranberry sauce
-1/2 oz chilled champagne

Add all ingredients minus the champagne to cocktail shaker with ice. Let stand for a full minute then shake for a full minute. Strain into chilled martini glasses. Top off each glass with champagne.

Apple Pie Martini
-3 oz vodka
-1 oz brandy
-1 teaspoon of dry vermouth
-1 chunk of green apple
-Garnish: green apple slivers

Add the liquid ingredients only to a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake for a full minute. Rub the apple chunk around the inside of a chilled martini glass. Strain cocktail into glass and garnish with apple sliver.

Nutcracker Sweet
-1 1/2 oz vodka
-1/2 oz amaretto
-3/4 oz white creme de cacao
-Garnish: Maraschino cherry

Prepare a martini glass by dipping it in chocolate then in crushed almonds and coconut. Mix all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Shake with ice and strain into a martini glass. Garnish with a cherry.

Grand Poinsettia Cocktail
-1 oz Bacardi Grand Melon
-1/2 oz orange curacao
-2 oz POM wonderful juice
-1/2 oz lemon juice
-1/2 oz simple syrup
-1/2 oz champagne

Add all ingredients minus the champagne in cocktail shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a tall glass. Top off with champagne. Garnish with a rosemary sprig.

Mistletoe Kiss
-1 1/2 oz cranberry vodka
-1 1/2 oz pineapple juice
-1 oz coconut cream
-Garnish: cherries

Add all ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice. Strain into a chilled martini glass and garnish with Maraschino cherries.

-2 oz vodka
-1/4 oz lime juice
-1 teaspoon lemon juice
-splash of Grenadine
-club soda

Pour all ingredients into a rocks glass filled with ice. Garnish with berries or miniature candy cane.

Two Turtle Doves
-1 1/2 oz vodka
-1 oz coconut cream
-1 oz half & half
-1/4 oz creme de cacao
-Rimming: shaved white chocolate

Mix all ingredients in cocktail shaker with ice. Strain into chilled martini glass with shaved white chocolate rim.

Slippery Santa Shot
-1 oz vodka
-1/2 oz cinnamon schnapps
-whipped cream
-Garnish: Maraschino cherry

Pour vodka and cinnamon schnapps into a shot glass and top with whipped cream and cherry.

Snacks, appetizers, and hors d’oeuvres

Fruit, Cheese, and Cracker Platter
-seasonal fruit such as pears, apples, grapes, and pomegranates
-a variety of cheeses ranging from soft to hard and mild to strong (suggestions: Havarati, blue, Gouda, sharp cheddar, brie, and Boursen)
-crackers or baguette

Cut ingredients into small wedge shapes and arrange on a platter. Make sure to have cheese knives and toothpicks available.

Hummus with Pita Bread
-hummus with pine nuts or sun-dried tomatoes
-pita bread or pita crackers

Place hummus in a glass container on a platter and arrange bread or crackers accordingly.

Shrimp Cocktail
-fresh & frozen cooked & cleaned small or large shrimp with tails on
-cocktail sauce

Place cocktail sauce in a martini glass and place several fresh shrimp on the rim of the glass with the tails facing the outside.

Chocolate Covered Strawberries
-16 oz milk chocolate chips
-2 tablespoons shortening
-1 lb. fresh strawberries with leaves

Insert toothpicks into the tops of the strawberries. In a double broiler, melt the chocolate and shortening, stirring occasionally until smooth. Holding the strawberries by the toothpicks, dip them into the chocolate mixture. Turn the strawberries upside down and insert the toothpicks into styrofoam or lay on wax paper for the chocolate to cool. For a fancier look, drizzle white chocolate over the milk chocolate.

3. Ambiance. Last but hardly least, you need to create your party’s ambiance, which ultimatelycandles is everything. Start bringing your party’s sexy vibe to life by dimming the lights and lighting large cranberry, cinnamon, or vanilla scented candles.

An alternative for those who are less coordinated around ignited objects (and know their drunk friends will be too, for that matter) would be to string white Christmas lights or hang paper lanterns, both of which provide for a glamorous holiday party milieu.

Decorate couches with deep red throw pillows and place poinsettias on tables, as they are festive without being over-the-top.

And finally yet very importantly, don’t forget the music! Down-tempo lounge music is perfect for the occasion, with our personal favorites being any of the Swingin’ Martini, Hotel Costes, Cafe Del Mar, or Chill Out Ibiza mixes (all available on iTunes). For those who want exclusively holiday tunes, we recommend turning on any of Frank Sinatra’s, Bing Crosby’s or Dean Martin’s Christmas compilations, also available on iTunes.

You are now ready to host the sexiest party of the season! Cocktail away, our friends!

*While you are having a blast this holiday season, all we ask is that you play safely, kindly and responsibly, and that you please look out for one another.

Happy Holidays San Diego!

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