Simplicity and style make for terrific alfresco summer entertaining
(NC) - Summer's finally here and it's time to take the party outdoors. Gather your favourite people, fire up the grill, pour the cocktails and throw the most memorable soirée of the season - with simple entertaining secrets and responsible hosting tips from the experts at the LCBO.
Plan ahead so you can enjoy time with your guests. Great parties don't just happen. They are the result of careful, detailed planning.
Be bold with the guest list. Bringing together a diverse crowd from various walks of life allows for more stimulating conversation.
Inject your party with style. You can go as high end or as simple as you like, but the trick is to keep it elegant. A theme is a great way to create focus for your party. It doesn't have to be complicated or expensive but it should be carried through in everything, including décor, music, food and drinks.
Set up a bar area. Whether it's your kitchen counter or a covered picnic table, set up an area where your guests can help themselves. Lay out everything that they will need, including garnishes, a pail or cooler for beer and wine, glassware, liquor, juice, ice and cocktail napkins.
Say cheers with trendy cocktails. Setting up a fully stocked bar can be costly. Instead, limit the drink selection to a signature cocktail or two, like the LCBO's Beachfront View, as well as beer and wine. Prepare cocktails in advance and serve them in pitchers. Leave recipe cards on the bar so guests can also try them at home.
Offer a mocktail. For guests who choose not to drink, create a specialty non-alcoholic offering. Mocktails can be fabulous and fun by combining fruit juices, such as cran-raspberry and lemonade, topped with soda water and garnished with fresh fruit or berries and served in a martini glass. For thirst-quenching cocktail/mocktail recipes and other inspiring entertaining ideas, visit www.lcbo.com.
Plan a seasonal menu. Access to fresh produce is limited in Ontario and your guests will surely appreciate a menu that focuses on ingredients that can only be found during the summer months: asparagus, tomatoes, corn, berries, etc. Keep the menu light, with plenty of appetizers or finger foods, dips, salads and bread.
Be a responsible host. It is your responsibility to make sure your guests arrive home safely. Have on hand water and coffee/tea for designated drivers and stop serving alcohol at least one hour before the party ends. Encourage your guests to leave their cars at home and take public transportation, taxis, or walk. And, be prepared for overnight guests.
Ice, ice baby! Most gatherings require more ice than the two trays in your freezer. Buying a few bags of ice will ensure that you have plenty to go around.
Let the music play. Create playlists that will suit the vibe of the evening and make copies for your guests to take home as a memento.
12 oz. (1 1/2 cups) Havana Club Anejo Reserva rum
1 oz. Lemon juice
32 oz. (4 cups) Cranberry-pomegranate juice
Add all ingredients to a pitcher. Stir and pour into tall glasses filled with ice. Garnish each with 1 tsp. chopped fresh mint.