IT’S PARTY TIME

Hot Press - - Wildlife -

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.

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