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lessons in entertaining, plus cocktails

December 20, 2011

This past thursday, K and I hosted our 4th annual Holiday party, and preparing for it has easily become one of my new favorite Christmastime traditions.  I start planning about 2 weeks out; getting as much done ahead of time as possible.  And while I’ve certainly come a long way, my most honest friends will tell you that when I first started doing this I was not what you would call a “graceful” or “relaxed” host.  The doorbell would ring…  Guests would filter in…  K would mix them drinks…and then someone would undoubtedly slip away from the entertaining to peek inside the kitchen where they’d find me, flustered, shuffling around in heels with a towel over my shoulder, panicking as I caught the first whiff of something getting scorched in the oven.   They would say, “um, can I help you in some way?” with a look of concern on their face.   If this didn’t paint a clear enough picture, the moral of the story is this:  I always took on too much, spoke with my guests too little, and stressed over minor details that could not be less important.

Now in my fourth year hosting, I’m pleased to hereby declare myself  a changed woman.  Two weeks ago I started prepping, even enlisting my dear neighbor to help me bake cookies and roll truffles.  We yapped in the kitchen and sipped egg nog, and despite a mutual decision that 2 chatty women + cocktails + recipe-following  yields several baking inefficiencies, we had  darn good time.   The cookies got done, after all.  Somehow this year I was proactive and prepared for my party.  I can even say I held a cocktail – instead of a sweaty oven mitt – for the majority of the night.

Amongst the pre-made treats, I tried a few homemade mixers for our extensive bar.  The mixers will be the highlight of this post, because I feel they are particularly festive and fun.  I came across this cranberry mojito  while perusing pinterest, which inspired me to include something cranberry in this year’s bar.   I thought it would be fun to enhance a simple cranberry syrup with the addition of rosemary.   If you haven’t noticed, “herbal” is IN these days and I am jumping on that bandwagon.  Of course, if you prefer the syrup without the herb, you can just as easily omit it.   Once the syrup is done, you can use it several different ways:  with muddled lemon peel, club soda & vodka, with light rum & lemon lime soda, in a punch, I could go on….

MERRY BERRY SYRUP (roseMARY & cranBERRY)

1 C water     |     1 C sugar     |     8-10 oz fresh cranberries     |     1-3 sprigs fresh rosemary

Add water and cranberries to pot and bring to a boil.  Once boiling and cranberries begin to pop, add rosemary.  For a subtle rosemary flavor, drop springs in whole.  For a strong rosemary flavor, chop the leaves first before adding.  Once all berries are soft and popped, add sugar and stir until completely dissolved.  Remove from heat.  Strain berries into a bowl, reserving red liquid.  (I gently pressed the berries as well, to extract additional flavor).  Add to a fun glass bottle and chill –  it’s ready for your bar!

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One Comment leave one →
  1. SEM permalink
    December 21, 2011 11:57 am

    Great post! I hope you will write more posts about the par-tay. Can’t wait to try your stuffed mushrooms

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