IT’S PARTY TIME
To start a few tips
• Remember to make sure to have lots of water on hand, so that people can pace themselves through the evening. Bottled water is inexpensive now, with 2-litre bottles available for €1 in most supermarkets, so having stilled and sparkling water as options makes sense. It is also good tack for the designated drivers in the company.
• Most people don’t have enough glasses to hand to deal with a medium sized party. However, a lot of off-licenses provide a ‘glasses loan’ service. Make no mistake: what you drink out of does indeed make a difference to how it tastes. The last thing you want is to be glugging wine from a pint glass – or vice versa. A bit of figuring out is required in advance, but you need to build this contingency into your thinking when you are buying your drinks…
• The quality of the drinks you are serving does matter. And that’s particularly important where cocktails and mixers are concerned: it is easy to ruin an otherwise fine concoction (and one that has cost a few bob into the bargain!) with a duff mixer. If there are spirits on the premises, then a really good tonic water is probably the single most important element in the entire equation. We recommend Fever Tree. For a start, you will look a lot cooler for having made the choice, because the smart guys know that it’s No.1. But far more important, if you don’t mind our saying so, is the taste of Fever Tree: it is far and away the best tonic available. Fever Tree is made with a host of natural ingredients: cane sugar (none of your awfultasting saccharine here!), quinine, Tanzanian spring water, lime oils and coriander. It has a subtle sweetness, and hints of fruit and botanicals, before the lovely tangy, softly bitter quinine finish. The tasting notes say that the magic slow “outro” of Fever Tree tonic allows the lingering end-notes of your gin or vodka to shine through. And it’s true. Fever Tree is different. It’s better. In fact it is so good that you can drink it on its own with ice and lime. Fever Tree also do a fine ginger beer and lemonade. Try any of them and let the glorious carbonation work its magic.
• Can we also suggest that you put a bottle or three of Jagermeister in the freezer well in advance! It works well in cocktails. Or mixed with Tonic. But it is also good as a shot – for which it ideally should be very cold.
• I’m sure it goes without saying, but where wine is concerned, always make sure to have both white and red. Some people will happily drink one or the other all night irrespective of the food. Others will start with white and move on to red. Better not to risk those who are stuck in one groove or another getting the hump. Here again, smart buying makes all the difference. When you are doing your supermarket shopping, keep an eye out for good wines being offered at knock-down prices. That is a far better way to lean than picking something merely serviceable because it doesn’t break the bank. For further recommendations, see our notes on Christmas wines overpage.
And you are going to need to have a few libations at hand, to keep the throngs happy! Here, we present the ultimate
Hot Press Guide to the best drinks that you can acquire – and make all on your ownio! – for that occasion when everyone is heading back to your place…
Your tutor: Anne Sexton
Ringing in the brew year! And (right) the ultimate mixer, Fever Tree
The Christmas and party season is nearly upon us. There are few things more important in life than sharing time with loved ones, but — let’s be honest — hosting a party can be a bit of a nightmare unless you know what you are doing.
In many ways, Christmas is the ideal time for you to throw a get-together. The shops are full of party platters, cheese boards, snacks and delicacies, which makes feeding your guests a doddle. There is, however, the small matter of the relevant alcoholic beverages to be sorted.
To help get you, and your guests, in the party spirit — literally — we’ve compiled a selection of beers, wines and cocktail recipes. These are all easy to prepare and most of them can be made beforehand, giving you more time to hang with your guests.