Here are some delicious drinks and recipes to help you plan a picture perfect holiday soiree for you and your loved ones.
First gather everything you will need and follow these easy tips:
Plan and Prep
Create a realistic party budget and map out a detailed to-do list. Most of your hors d’oeuvres and ingredients for cocktails should be prepped well in advance of party time, so you’re able to relax and give guests your full attention when they arrive.
If the idea of assembling a full bar seems overwhelming and expensive, serve one or two signature cocktails along with red and white wine, beer and at least one festive nonalcoholic option.
Several days ahead of the party, make oversize ice cubes in a silicone tray and store them in a sealed container. Their slower melt rate keeps drinks colder for longer—plus, they look really cool in a glass. To free up valuable fridge space, make an ice bath for chilling bottles by filling a bucket or tub with bagged ice and water.
Think variety when planning hors d’oeuvres. Include vegetarian selections, and avoid offering anything that’s too messy or awkward to eat while balancing a full martini glass.
Feeling nervous about being judged by your music-geek friends? Take the pressure off by asking a few guests to take turns playing DJ with their iPods. Chances are that at least one of them is just dying to show off their playlists.
Then follow these easy recpies for a meal everyone will LOVE!
Mango Martini (Oscar del Rivero, Jaguar Ceviche Spoon Bar & Latam Grill)
1 mango, cut into large chunks
3 tsp. sugar [CF1] (substitute with Splenda or other sweetener if desired)
8 oz. water
1½ oz. potato vodka
1 oz. triple sec
Splash of fresh lime juice
Cherries, for garnish
Prepare homemade mango syrup by boiling water with sugar and mango chunks (skin and pulp). Strain to remove mango. Let syrup cool. Add vodka and triple sec to a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake all ingredients and serve in martini glass. Garnish with cherry and slice of fresh mango. Makes TK servings.
Meet the Chef!
Mexico native Oscar del Rivero is the executive chef behind Jaguar Ceviche Spoon Bar & Latam Grill, Talavera Cocina Mexicana and Peacock Garden Café, the South Florida restaurants from the Jaguar Hospitality Group.
The Latin Apple (Edixon Caridad)
1 red chile pepper
1½ oz. Santa Teresa Gran Reserva rum
½ oz. freshly squeezed lime juice
1 oz. apple juice
¼ oz. simple syrup*
Chop half of chile pepper and reserve remaining half for garnish. In shaker, add chopped chile pepper and remaining ingredients. Shake and strain into martini glass. Garnish with reserved chile pepper on rim. Makes TK servings.
*Chef’s note: To make simple syrup, mix equal parts superfine sugar and water (for example, 1 cup to 1 cup) in container with lid. Tighten lid and shake until sugar is dissolved.
Meet the Mixologist!
Venezuelan Edixon Caridad is U.S. brand ambassador for rum producer Santa Teresa. Since 2010, he has also been a working craft bartender at PDT, the famed East Village speakeasy that won “World’s Best Cocktail Bar” at the Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Awards the same year.
Oaxacan Sleigh Bells (Esteban Ordonez)
4 tbsp. granulated white sugar
1 tsp. powdered cinnamon
3 lemon wedges
2 orange wedges
2 oz. Scorpion Silver mezcal
¾ oz. Campari
¾ oz. simple syrup
Chilled club soda, to top
Orange wedge, for garnish
In small bowl, add sugar and cinnamon and mix until well-blended; set aside. In shaker tin, muddle lemon and orange wedges and add mezcal, Campari and simple syrup. Fill with ice and shake vigorously for 7 seconds. Strain into ice-filled highball glass, and top with club soda. Garnish with orange wedge and pinch of cinnamon-sugar mix. Makes TK servings.
La Caprichosa (Esteban Ordonez)
1½ oz. Pisco Portón
1½ oz. freshly squeezed and strained grapefruit juice
¾ oz. Campari
½ oz. simple syrup
2 tsp. lemon juice
Large lemon peel
Large grapefruit cubes, for garnish
In mixing glass, combine all ingredients over ice except lemon peel and grapefruit cube; stir until well-chilled. Serve in old-fashioned glass. Twist lemon peel over cocktail, rim glass with peel and add it to drink, sliding it under large ice cubes. Garnish with grapefruit cube on rim. Makes TK servings.
Mini Chipotle Meatballs
3 slices bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
3 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
2 large eggs
½ cup breadcrumbs
1½ tsp. salt
1¼ lb. ground pork
1 can (28 oz.) diced tomatoes, drained
1–2 canned chipotle chiles (for spicier meatballs, use 2)
1 teaspoon dried oregano, preferably Mexican
1½ cups beef or chicken broth
Chopped cilantro, for garnish
Preheat oven to 450° F. In food processor, process bacon and 1 garlic clove until finely chopped. Add eggs, breadcrumbs and 1 tsp. salt. Pulse several times to combine thoroughly, then add pork and finish incorporating. With wet hands, form meat into bite-sized balls and place in baking dish. Bake about 10 minutes until lightly browned.
Meanwhile, in blender or food processor, combine tomatoes, chipotle chiles, oregano, remaining 2 garlic cloves, broth and ½ tsp. salt. Process to smooth purée. Pour sauce onto meatballs and cook for about 15 more minutes, until sauce is almost dry or stuck to meatballs. To serve, place meatballs on large serving platter with toothpicks and sprinkle with cilantro. Makes about 2 dozen bite-sized meatballs.
Anticuchos de Pescado con Salsa de Ají Panca (Peruvian-Style Fish Skewers with Ají Panca Sauce)
12 oz. firm-flesh fish, preferably swordfish or corvina, cut into 1½-inch cubes (or large peeled and deveined shrimp)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pinch of cumin
1 tbsp. red-wine vinegar
1 tsp. vegetable oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Ají panca sauce
1 tbsp. vegetable oil
¼ white onion, chopped
1 tbsp. minced garlic
1 tbsp. ají panca paste* (or 1/3 of any chile pepper, such as chipotle)
1 cup fish stock
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
In bowl, add fish cubes and mix with garlic, cumin, vinegar, oil, salt and pepper. Thread 1–2 cubes of fish onto small skewers or toothpicks. On grill or cast-iron skillet, cook fish over medium-high heat for about 2–4 minutes on each side, until lightly browned and cooked through.
To make sauce, warm oil in skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic, and cook about 3–5 minutes until soft and golden. Add ají panca paste and stir for a few minutes. Add fish stock and bring to boil. Season sauce with salt and pepper and purée in blender until smooth. To serve, arrange skewers on large plate with sauce in small dish in center. Makes 10–12 servings.
*Chef’s note: Ají Panca is a mild Peruvian chile that can be bought whole, dried or as a paste, and is available at specialty Latin markets and online (try amigofoods.com).
Tostadas de Frijol with Pico de Gallo and Queso de Cabra (Black Bean, Pico de Gallo and Goat Cheese Tostadas)
6 corn taquera-size [CF1] tortillas, each cut into 4 triangles
1 cup refried black beans
1 cup pico de gallo
½ cup goat cheese (or crumbled feta)
Cubed or sliced avocado (optional)
Mexican crema, for drizzling (optional)
In microwave on high setting, toast tortillas in batches for 30 seconds. Then turn to cook for another 30 seconds, until dry and toasted but not soft. Spread beans evenly on tostadas. Sprinkle with pico de gallo and top with cheese. If desired, top with avocado and drizzle with Mexican crema. Makes 6–8 servings.
Meet the Chef!
Esteban Ordonez is the chief mixologist and managing partner for the International Cocktail Group, a consulting firm. Ordonez stepped out from behind the bar in 2001 to study at the world-famous Escuela Española de Cata and Círculo de Vino Matritense, both located in Madrid. This immersion in European culinary methods served to further hone his unique style, palate and technique, which he brought back to New York City and shared at the famous Citarella and Atlas restaurants.