Chicken Tikka Masala – My Take on a Classic

Y’all! I LOVE me some Indian food, but since moving to Kentucky, there are not as many places to find it as there were in Tampa, Fla. So, I went on a mission to recreate one of my favorite dishes, and modified it to my tastes.

In other words, this may not be the 100% authentic recipe you will find on other sites, but it hit the exact spot I had a craving for.

Though I confess it does take a while to make this recipe, I was so happy with how it turned out. And, my husband and I have added it to our meal plan rotation! Best part is you could easily double it to have plenty of leftovers!

Active time: About an hour

Total time: About 90 mins

Servings: 4-6 depending on portion sizes

Ingredients Chicken Tikka Masala (Modified)

For the Chicken Coating:

  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice (I totally used a bottle of concentrate, but you could juice 1 lime and get about 1 tablespoon)
  • Generous 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper (Note: the more you add, the spicier this dish will be!)
  • 3/4 teaspoon paprika (I used smoked paprika, but many Indian recipes call for sweet paprika)
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala (spice blend)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 cup plain, full-fat Greek yogurt or full-fat sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic (I used the minced garlic stir-in paste, but you could use about 3 cloves and mince it yourself)
  • 1 tablespoon of stir-in ginger paste or you could use one 2-inch piece peeled fresh ginger root, minced

For the Tikka Masala Sauce:

  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 2 8-ounce cans of plain tomato sauce (Make sure you don’t make the mistake of grabbing the one with oregano and basil like I’ve accidentally done in the past!)
  • 6 bay leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper (Again, if you add more it WILL kick up the heat level!)
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala (spice blend)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin

Additional Ingredients Needed:

  • 1 tablespoon of baking soda
  • 1 tsp approximately of garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste

How to Make Chicken Tikka Masala (Modified)

Step 1

In a 2 qt saucepan, start melting your butter on medium heat, but don’t brown it! Then, add your tomato sauce, and give it a stir. Then, add your other sauce ingredients, stir, and when it begins bubbling, add a lid and turn your stove down to simmer so it can cook while your chicken is velveting and then baking.

You’ll need to stir it roughly every 15 minutes just to make sure the sauce isn’t burning.

Step 2

For the chicken: Using thawed chicken breasts, velvet the chicken with your baking soda

To velvet the chicken you will sprinkle the baking soda all over it and rub it in. Then, let it sit a full 20 minutes.

Pro tip: Set a timer because you don’t want this to sit longer than 20 minutes as the chicken will become mush!

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees while you are velveting the chicken.

Step 3

Wash the chicken and then pat dry with paper towels. Then place the breasts in a greased 9X13 pyrex or equivalent glass baking dish.

Step 4

Sprinkle salt, pepper, garlic powder, and paprika onto both sides of the chicken. I eyeballed this, but it ended up being about 1 tsp of each spice across the chicken.

Step 5

Place the chicken in the oven for 12 mins, and get to work on your sauce. In a bowl, combine the lime juice, cayenne pepper, paprika, garam masala, salt, yogurt/sour cream, garlic and ginger in a mixing bowl until evenly mixed.

Step 6

Pull out the chicken, spoon on half of the chicken coating to the top of your chicken, then flip it over, and spoon the other half on and rub it all over the top

Step 7 

Place it back in the over for another 10-15 mins or until the internal temp reaches 165 degrees

Step 8

When your chicken is cooked through, cut it into 1 inch cubes and place the cubes back in the pan.

Step 9

Pour your Tikka Masala sauce onto the chicken and give everything a good stir to ensure all those yummy bits of your chicken coating are fully incorporated throughout.

Step 10

Serve with Basmati rice and Naan. I like to pour some of the sauce into the rice and chicken so I can dip the Naan into it. Damn tasty!

To give the sauce a little heat, you can add more cayenne pepper, red chili powder, or Kashmiri chili sauce. We felt the flavor was just fine without extra heat, but we did add salt and pepper to taste.

Halloween Martinis

Easy martini recipes that are perfect for entertaining, especially if you are hosting a Halloween party.

These cocktail recipes for Halloween themed martinis are sure to make your Halloween party a success! These martinis feature the colors of Halloween, orange and black, and the flavors of the fall season, such as pumpkin.

Chocolate Orange Martini

2 Parts Vodka
1 Part Godiva Dark Chocolate Liqueur
Splash of Cointreau

Combine the vodka, chocolate liqueur, and Cointreau in a shaker with ice. Shake well and strain into a martini glass. You can garnish this martini with a chocolate stick, orange slice on the rim of the glass, or by creating a sugared chocolate rim (prior to pouring the drink, coat the rim of the glass with orange juice then dip the rim of the martini glass in a sugar and powdered chocolate mixture).

Frozen Creamsicle Martini

2 Cups Frozen Orange Sherbet
¼ Cup Smirnoff Vanilla Twist Vodka
¼ Cup Cream
½ Cup Ice

Place all of the ingredients in a blender, and blend well; be sure that no ice chunks remain in the mixture. Pour the creamsicle mixture into martini glasses; the amount of vodka can be increased or decreased depending on the tastes of guests.

Pumpkin Pie Martini

2 Parts Smirnoff Vanilla Twist Vodka
1 Part Pumpkin Spice Syrup
1 Part Cream

Combine the vodka, syrup, and cream in a shaker with ice. Shake well and strain into a martini glass. You can garnish this drink by sprinkling nutmeg over the drink.

Frozen Pumpkin Spice Martini

2 Cups Vanilla Ice Cream
¼ Cup Vodka
Splash of Cream
½ Teaspoon Pumpkin Pie Spice

Place all of the ingredients in a blender, and blend well. Pour the mixture into martini glasses; the amount of vodka can be increased or decreased depending on the tastes of guests.

These are easy cocktails to prepare, which is why they are so perfect for serving at holiday parties. Furthermore, specialty martinis are one of the hottest beverage trends today.

Keep in mind that all of these martini recipes can be easily adjusted to suit your guests’ tastes and tolerances for alcohol. One of the greatest things about mixology is the freedom it allows in mixing cocktails. Take a stroll down the aisles of a local liquor store and browse the selection of cordials and flavored liqueurs; get inspired by the multitude of options and get creative behind the bar.

Basically any flavor martini is possible to create, just combine two parts of vodka (consider using flavored vodka) with one part of any flavored liqueur (or several different flavored liqueurs). Splashes of juice, milk, or cream can also be added to martinis to enhance flavor or balance the alcohol.

Tips on How to Buy Wine

There are four strategies to keep in mind if you want to find the best wines at the best price in your local wine shop.

To make sure you get a great bottle every time, remember these four things: go to a reliable source, ask questions, know what you want to spend and remember what you’ve tried and liked.

Go to a Reliable Merchant

Reliable has three parts. You have to look for •honest people who know their product and take good care of it.

There’s not much dishonesty in the wine business, but at the least you should ask people who work in the retail end of the business if they drink what they sell. Never buy wine from merchants who don’t drink wine themselves. Feel free to ask a lot of questions and feel comfortable expecting good answers.

Good wine can be ruined by bad storage so avoid any place that’s warm in the summer. It’s always a good idea to ask store personell where they keep their wine. The answer you want is something like “In climate-controlled storage, would you like to take a look?”

The best way to find a reliable source is to ask all your knowledgeable wine friends. If you don’t have any savvy wine buddies, maybe you should seek some out at wine tastings and wine societies.

Ask Questions

Along with information on particular wines, this is how you’ll find out if you have a reliable source. A good wine store hires people who love wine. Your questions should be answered enthusiastically. If a clerk recommends a wine, be sure to ask if he’s tasted it himself. If the staff can’t answer your questions, there’s not much chance they can make a recommendation.

Know What You Want to Spend

There’s a place for every day wine and a place for special wines. Have an idea of what your budget is for each type and only let yourself be talked over-budget occasionally. Remember that there’s a lot of really good wine available for about ten bucks a bottle.

Remember What You Liked

If you have a great memory, good for you. If you’re a person who needs a list for a three-item trip to the grocery store, it may be worthwhile to start a little wine notebook. Your notes don’t have to be elaborate affairs worthy of a magazine, just write down the name-including vintage year-the price you paid and whether that wine, at that price seemed like a good purchase. I suggest a simple ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ scoring system. ‘Yes’ means that you felt that the wine was worth the price you paid.

You can use your notes to feed back into step two above: ask for wines like the ones you said ‘Yes’ to.

All this is about buying wine in a bricks-and-mortar store. There are a lot of on-line sources for buying wine these days.

Summer Cocktails – Mixing Tips And Flavor Suggestions

Creating refreshing summer cocktails doesn’t need to involve fancy bartender tools or exotic ingredients, all you do need is a bit of imagination and some guests!

Cocktail or mocktail, the best summer drinks are usually the easiest to prepare. Avoid the syrupy pre-made margarita and daiquiri mixes in your grocery store, and instead pick up some fresh citrus and fruit and you’ll be well on the way to making your own fantastic and refreshing summer drinks.

Thirst Quenching

Meant to be refreshing, the use of citrus will elevate any drink from blah to fantastic with a simple wedge or squeeze. Avoid pre-squeezed lemon or lime juice, or concentrates, as they lack that fresh burst of flavor that comes from a fresh lemon or lime.

Skip the Sugar

Simple syrup, a mixture of dissolved sugar and water, is the sweetener of choice for summer cocktails. Granulated sugar just will not dissolve cleanly or completely in cold liquids, therefore plan ahead and make your simple sugar. Take equal parts of sugar and water and combine in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir until the sugar is dissolved, and once chilled this mixture will keep for weeks in the fridge. Use as needed to sweeten everything from iced tea to mojitos.

Herbal Flavors

Like the famous Cuban mojito, many regional drink specialties use fresh herbs. Mojitos and sangrias use mint, while the unusual tomtini uses a basil infused alcohol for its flavor profile. Lavender is also gaining in popularity and is showing up in new drinks across the country.

Pour Easy!

Intended to be refreshing and social, summer cocktails can be a sure fire way to intoxicate your guests if you don’t take it easy on the alcohol. Many drink combinations mask the flavor of the alcohol so you can end up ingesting much more than you thought. A good rule is to use 1 to 2 ounces of alcohol per drink, per person. Diluted of course, by various sodas, juices or other mixing components.

Blended, Shaken or on the Rocks

There is no golden rule to making cocktails – use what you have in your kitchen and don’t fret over not having the perfect bartender tool or drink specific glasses. Be creative, nobody says that a fruity martini MUST go into a martini glass. It’d look perfectly cute in a champagne flute. Don’t have a shaker? Hold a saucer over the open end of a glass and shake that way. A simple shot of a quality alcohol poured over a few cubes of ice is a timeless way to offer refreshment to your guests.

Garnish!

Tropical paper umbrellas may well be cliché, and the ever-present maraschino cherry can be considered tacky, but no drink should be presented to guests without some form of garnish. When considering your garnish, use an element of the drink itself. For example, a Long Island Iced Tea with a wedge of lemon or a Blushing Lass would look great with a twist of lime on the side of the glass.

Forget the fancy equipment; you don’t need it to make fantastic drinks. Decide ahead of time what kind of alcohol you’ll be needing, and what sort of flavor profile you’re looking for. Do you want it sweet or tart? Fruity or herbal? Most importantly, be creative – even if you’re just following somebody else’s recipe, you can personalize the drink by altering an ingredient here or there.

Eight Summer Cocktail Tips For Beginners

Cocktails are always in fashion and always will be. Every good bar serves them and the quality of the entire place rests on the barman’s ability to mix a good mojito or cosmopolitan. A beginner can make a great cocktail, just follow a good recipe and learn these few simple beginners summer cocktail tips.

Remember this order – sugar, ice, alcohol, mix and soda. This is the standard order the majority of cocktails are made in. That is beginners summer cocktail tip number one.

Beginner Cocktail Tip 2 – You will need some good equipment. Good equipment is vital so if you think you can get away with using a cocktail shaker from your local dollar store your wrong. You will need a jigger to measure out the ingredients, a bar spoon, a hawthorn strainer, a julep strainer and a good quality shaker. If you’re a beginner you will do well with a Cobbler shaker although the pros tend to prefer Boston shakers.

Beginner Cocktail Tip 3 – Next thing to think about is your ingredients. You will want to be using the absolute best you can afford. This is especially true for drinks that contain fruit juice. If you try and cut costs on budget juice like lemon and lime your cocktails will taste awful. Ideally you want to be squeezing all your juices fresh.

Beginner Cocktail Tip 4 – You also need to consider ice. Ice can literally make or break your drink. You may think it’s all the same but it’s not. It shouldn’t be melting or recently frozen. Do not freeze it next to any food as it may slightly absorb their taste and smell.

Beginner Cocktail Tip 5 – For some cocktails you will need sugar syrup. You can either buy this or make it yourself. Just mix equal amounts of sugar and water and heat the mixture in a pan until the sugar has dissolved and the water has thickened.

Beginner Cocktail Tip 6 – If your chosen cocktail contains ingredients that are difficult to blend then make sure it is shaken. Don’t use crushed ice, use 4-6 ice cubes. Place the ice in the shaker and then the other ingredients. Shake as hard as you can for at least 20 seconds.

If your chosen cocktail contains just liquids then it is much easier to mix and therefore should be stirred. When you are mixing use a glass or metal mixing rod (that you should have purchased as mentioned above). Mix then strain into the required glass over ice. Again no crushed ice.

Beginner Cocktail Tip 7 – Make sure whatever drink you serve you put it in the correct glass. No your can’t put anything in any old glass. Mixed drinks like Long Island, Mojito, and Gin and Tonic all go in a tall glass. Cocktails with juice should be served in tall skinny glasses. Generally people serve daiquiris and margarita’s in martini glasses however they are best in thick rimmed “Coupette Glasses”. Martini glasses are best for any shaken cocktail to stop it from separating.

Beginner Cocktail Tip 8 – Always serve your cocktail in a chilled glass. This is because warm drinks taste disgusting, an ice-cold drink covers the taste of the alcohol and adds another dimension to the drink. This is the absolute key to beginner’s cocktail making. The colder the glass the better it will taste.

How To Host A Successful Wine Party Or Wine Tasting

Wine is becoming more popular these days thanks to research showing that the poly-phenolic flavonoids, referred to as antioxidants, in wine may help prevent everything from heart attacks and strokes to kidney stones and some kinds of cancer. So as more people are enjoying wines, it’s good to find more ways to learn about and to share them. A fabulous way to consider doing this is by hosting a wine tasting party.

The key to hosting a successful wine tasting is to remember that you are simply the host. The wines are the guests of honor, so the gathering should be focused on them, not on preparing gourmet food, showing off your latest home decor or spending time dishing out the latest gossip with your guests.

That is not to say that your wine tasting shouldn’t be fun. But if the goal is to make this an educational, as well as a social experience, you should put some serious thought into it. The following are suggestions you can use to put together a successful evening of sharing good wine with some good friends.

Decide on the format and the guest list:

My husband and I belong to a wine tasting group of eight – four couples who get together on a regular basis for wine tastings. Each couple takes turns picking a theme and hosting, and we each contribute two bottles of wine and an appetizer at each gathering. I’ve found that to be an ideal number for us, allowing for a good variety of wine and a varied number of opinions.

Not enough people and there isn’t enough to taste and discuss. Too many people and it is too easy to get sidetracked and have the night turn into a wine drinking free-for-all. So I suggest keeping the group manageable – anywhere from eight to ten is ideal – and certainly no more than twelve. Whether this is a one-time event or something you decide to do more regularly, you should include people who have a true enjoyment of, or interest in, wine and who have at least a slight knowledge of the different kinds of wines available. Beer guzzling friends and people whose favorite wine comes out of a box probably don’t qualify.

Decide on a theme:

Or not. That’s up to you or the group. We like picking a theme each time we get together. It makes it fun and can sometimes make it easier, or more challenging, to choose appropriate wines. On one occasion, each couple had to bring one red and one white. We’ve been assigned a country from which we had to choose two bottles, and just recently each of us had to bring a bottle of wine from the country of our family’s origin.

We’ve also done a blind tasting, where we had to guess what kind of wine it was that we were sampling. For our next gathering, each couple has to bring one bottle that is under $8 and one that is around $30 so we can compare the qualities of less expensive and more expensive wines. Regardless of our theme, we try to keep the total cost around $40 to keep the evening affordable and to allow us to find wines in a reasonable price range.

Decide on food:

Ideally, the only food you should be eating during the wine tasting are foods that pair well with the wines and allow you to cleanse your palate in between tastings. Plain crackers, bread, some cheeses and maybe some fruit are best. But our group isn’t quite that rigid. Each couple brings an appetizer to share so that the host doesn’t have to bear the burden of doing all the prep work. We try to keep it simple and light and don’t let the food overshadow the wine. You can plan to serve food after the tasting if you’d like, but since we spend pretty much the entire evening tasting, we enjoy the food throughout the event.

Have the right supplies:

Make sure you have enough glasses for all your attendees. You should have both red and white wine glasses available. Wine charms for the glasses will help guests keep straight which glasses are theirs. Some glasses for water and a pitcher nearby will allow guests to have a few sips in between wines. A decanter will be useful in allowing wines to breathe, allowing all the flavors to reveal themselves. If you’re doing a blind tasting, make sure you have enough bags to cover each bottle. Another “must have” at a tasting are scoring sheets. These sheets will allow you and your guests to take notes about the variety and its aromas, flavors and appearance. They can take the sheets home for future reference. There are plenty of websites available that will allow you to download these tasting sheets for free.

Presentation and discussion:

Each couple takes a turn introducing the wines they brought. We usually mention price, year, varietal, any previous experience drinking it and why we chose it. Once it’s been tasted, we discuss what we observe, smell and taste and take notes on our score sheets. We often end up talking about what food we’d pair with it or if we’d even try it again.

Don’t let your cups runneth over:

Keep pours to about 2 ounces, enough to allow you and your guests to savor the bouquet and to take a few sips. You don’t want everyone drinking a half a glass or more so that by they end of the evening they can barely remember their names, let alone the different wines they tried. We learned that lesson the hard way. If you want to finish a bottle, wait until the end of the tasting, after all the wines have been tried. A few sips of water, a cracker or piece of bread and a rinse of your glass, and you’ll be ready to pour the next round.

When it’s over:

When the guests have gone, the glasses have been washed and the bar or kitchen is clean, it’s tempting to just throw all the bottles into the recycling bin. But if you’re serious about using this night as an educational experience, you may want to consider saving the labels and putting them into a wine log. My husband has done this for years, using nothing more than a composition notebook, and now has a large collection of labels, notes and recommendations from which to choose when we’re having friends over or just stocking our wine rack. He fills the bottle with warm water to help loosen the glue on the back of the label so that he can peel it off. Taking a digital picture of it will work too. Then he puts it in his notebook and transfers his notes from the evening onto the page. It makes for a great reference source and serves as a reminder of a fun evening.

Just as there are a variety of wines to choose from, so are there many ways to throw a successful wine tasting party. These are just suggestions that have worked for our group. How you organize yours will depend on the level of interest and the tastes of your guests. There is no one right way. Regardless of what you choose to do, when you get together for an evening with good friends, good food and a few bottles of wine, it will be hard to get it wrong.

Fancy Drinks For A Cocktail Party

Whether you are planning a cocktail party for colleagues or friends, fancy drinks can help start conversations and win over guests. Serving the same cocktails over and over again becomes boring, so it helps to use your imagination when designing your cocktail party menu.

Fancy cocktails might include an interesting garnish or a unique conversation of flavors. Serve fancy drinks in distinctive stemware or provide cocktail charms to help guests keep track of their beverages. Whatever the case, it is easier than you think to impress during a cocktail party.

1- Mango Margarita

A friend of mine came up with this idea after trying a mango iced tea drink at a Cheddar’s restaurant one evening. All you have to do for your cocktail party to make this drink is to add a cup or two of cubed mangos to your margarita mix.

Garnish with a lemon wedge or a slice of papaya to give it a truly tropical feel. Mango margaritas should be served in regular margarita glasses, but you might want to find some colorful glasses to bring home the theme. Just keep in mind that the mango further disguises the taste of tequila, so keep an eye on anyone who seems to be drinking too much.

2- Chocolate Martini

If you are having a late evening cocktail party, chocolate martinis are an excellent addition to your menu. These fancy drinks combine vodka with chocolate liquor, and I have found that they taste better with a shot or two of half-and-half to thicken the recipe.

These fancy cocktails should be served in chilled martini glasses, and you can get creative with the garnishes. A single chocolate kiss dropped into the bottom of the glass adds an interesting touch.

3- Pomegranate Mimosas

Mimosas are excellent additions to your cocktail party menu, and because they include champagne they definitely fall into the category of fancy drinks. However, you can add further punch to this favorite by adding pomegranate juice and seeds to your mimosas at a cocktail party.

You’ll want to use four parts champagne to three parts orange juice, to one part pomegranate so you don’t override the basic flavor. Drip the pomegranate seeds into the bottom of the chilled glass, and you’ve got yourself a hit.

4- Cabernet Sangria

If you are looking for punch-type fancy cocktails for your cocktail party, cabernet sangria is a flavorful choice. Simply combine cabernet sauvignon with sangria in a large punch bowl, then toss in a couple shots of cognac. Cube an orange and add it to the mix, then stir in three tablespoons of sugar. You can also add a bottle of club soda if you want to give it a sparkling punch taste.

These fancy drinks are served best in highball glasses with orange-slice or cinnamon-stick garnishes. You can adjust the concentration of cabernet to taste.

5- Cosmopolitan Variations

The cosmopolitan martini has become very popular in recent years, particularly because it was featured frequently on the television show “Sex and the City.” However, even if you don’t like the normal cosmo taste, you can create fancy drinks based on the recipe and score a hit.

For example, you can pour frozen cubed pineapples into a tumbler or highball glass, then pour the cosmopolitan over it for a more fruity taste.

Cocktail Party Drinks

Whether it be a New Year celebration, a graduation ball, a birthday treat, or whatever, one thing is certain: everybody will want a drink! Here’s a selection of special drinks to get your party underway.

Pineapple Crush (Serving Four Guests)

Peel one fresh pineapple and cut it into small pieces. Place them into a blender, along with 270g of crushed ice, and blend until the mixture is nice and smooth. Now, pour this into a large bowl and carefully mix in 1 litre of Ginger Beer. Pour into glasses and serve with fresh slices of pineapple.

Passion Fruit Margarita (Serving Two Guests)

Juice and sieve the pulp of six Passion Fruit and place them into a blender. Add in 80ml of Tequila, 30ml of Cointreau and 40ml of Lime Cordial, along with 135g of crushed ice and blend. Place the rim of your glasses into a solution of lemon juice and salt, and then pour in the Margarita. Thinly sliced limes can be used as a garnish.

Peach Cup (Serving a Party of Twelve)

Take 750ml of Peach Brandy, 750ml of Peach Juice (or cordial) and one whole bottle of your favourite Rosé, along with one bottle of Soda Water (or Tonic Water), and place them into a large punch bowl. Slice two large peaches in half, take out the stones, and then cut up into thin, even slices. Add these to the punch bowl and stir in gently. You can garnish with sprigs of fresh mint and serve with a ladle.

Champagne Strawberry Punch (Serving Twelve Guests)

Place 250g of freshly sliced strawberries into your punch bowl. Add in 50g of Castor Sugar, 125ml of Cointreau, along with 30ml of Grenadine and allow it to stand for an hour or so. Add in two bottles of your favourite Champagne and one bottle of Tonic Water (or Soda Water) immediately before serving.

Mint Julep (For a Party of Eight Guests)

Take the rind from three ripe lemons and place in a large pan. Add in 250g of sugar, 250ml of water and bring to the boil, gradually dissolving the sugar. Allow this to simmer on a low heat for approximately five minutes, then strain off into a serving bowl and leave to cool. Next, juice the three lemons, along with another two, and place them into the bowl, too.

Take 540g of crushed ice, 20g of fresh mint and place them into a blender. Mix just enough to crush the mint, and then add this to the bowl along with 125ml of your favourite whisky. To serve, dip the rim of your glasses into a solution of lemon juice and sugar and pour in the Julep. It can be garnished with sprigs of fresh mint.

Next, sit back and enjoy the party!

A Guide To Great Cocktail Party Drinks

Everybody loves the idea of throwing an old fashioned upscale cocktail party. The problem is that many people have the basic idea down, but they don’t know where to go from there.

So you’ve got your guest list set, and your apartment decorations all lined up, but what drinks will you serve? After all what is a cocktail party without a couple of great adult beverages to set the mood just right?

If you want to throw a great cocktail party without hiring an independent bartender to come in and serve your guests I have compiled a list of just three of my favorite (and so easy to whip up!) cocktail party drinks.

Screwdriver

This is your basic cocktail party drink. The common formula for a screwdriver is 6 oz. of orange juice with 1-2 oz. of vodka depending on how strong you wish the drink to be. For a cocktail party I would create this drink as a punch style self serve drink.

Prepare the setting for the drink as follows: A punch bowl filled with the screwdriver punch setup beside a bin of ice cubes and a bunch of highball glasses that are pre-prepared with several ice cubes and an orange wedge garnish awaiting your guests to fill the glasses as needed.

To make this punch the recipe would be one and a half gallons of orange juice to 750 ml. of vodka to which you can then make more by doubling this ratio. Feel free to add fruit to the drink in the punch bowl. For an average party any vodka will do really with Smirnoff being the recommendation, and for a more high end get-together Grey Goose would do nicely (with the bottle on display as an added touch).

Tequila Sunrise

This is another great drink for a cocktail party, but it requires each drink being poured individually so it will be slightly more work intensive, but goes well as a secondary drink or a drink for the later staying guests at the party.

Again in a highball glass with several ice cubes pour in 1.5 oz. tequila then top with 6 oz. of orange juice stirring gently afterward. To get the sunrise effect for the drink pour a quick several drops of grenadine around the edge of the glass and let it set for just a minute or two.

The red grenadine will rise up through the orange juice and tequila slowly looking much like its namesake a sunrise. Any grenadine will do and for an average party as well as a simple Jos© Cuervo tequila and for a high end tequila Patron is the brand to use (with the bottle on display of course).

Sex On The Beach

This drink is a great one for a party with a little more of an adult theme because of the name and the slightly higher alcohol content. This one can be put together drink by drink or as a punch style serving. The basic recipe for this drink is 1-2 oz. of vodka and ½ oz. peach schnapps mixed well with 2 oz orange juice and 2 oz. cranberry juice served with ice in a highball glass.

For a punch style serving I would prepare the setting for the drink in much the same way as the Screwdriver drink, however, with more and varied fruits for accompaniment. For a punch style drink the ratio would be 750 ml. vodka, 12 oz. peach schnapps with 1 gallon each orange and cranberry juice. Much like the Screwdriver above for an average cocktail party Smirnoff vodka would be great and for a more upscale party Grey Goose is the recommendation (with the bottle on display to add effect).

5 Best Cocktails To Serve At Your Christmas Party

The idea of having drinks and Christmas party and doing so cheaply is to make whatever it is that you are serving stretch as far as possible. However, one must allow the liquor used to be enjoyed. I have found that serving punches whether alcoholic or not is a great way to stretch your cocktail budget. Here are five ideas for some cocktails that will allow one to serve cocktails at a Christmas party inexpensively.

Champagne Punch

You need:

  • Frozen/slushy canned fruit juices (apple, pineapple, and even orange – preferably not concentrated – 20 to 24 ounces each)
  • Chilled champagne (the cheap stuff is better because the juice will mask the cheapness)

Take canned fruit juices and freeze them to the point where they are close to solid or at least slushy (approximately 4 to 6 hours). Place those into a punch bowl. Just prior to guest scheduled arrival add in 3-4 bottles of the chilled champagne to the mixture. Stir it around a bit to get everything mixed together, and you are done. As the party goes on you may add additional champagne and additional fruit juices to the mixture to stretch it out further.

Non-Alcoholic

Sherbet Punch

  • Single Flavored Sherbet (generic brand is fine)
  • Chilled ginger ale (generic is great)

Take the sherbet and empty it into the punch bowl. Pour the chilled ginger ale over the sherbet. Mix it up and bit to melt the sherbet slightly and you have a refreshing non-alcoholic cocktail.

Pina Colada Punch

  • Chilled ginger ale
  • Chilled Pina Colada drink mix
  • Frozen/slushy pineapple juice (24 ounce non-concentrated can)

Take the pineapple juice and the pina colada mix and place them into a punch bowl. Pour the ginger ale over the mixture. To make an alcoholic version, reduce the amount of ginger ale by about half and substitute run or your favorite spirit. Stir a bit and here is another drink that alcoholic or non-alcoholic drinkers will enjoy.

Pre-Mixed Drinks

Another method is to have all of your drinks pre-mixed. This keeps certain partygoers from drinking the liquor straight. Drinks like flavored-martinis, vodka/cranberry, or whiskey sours, can be pre mixed and then poured over ice or shaken with ice. This allows you to use lower priced liquors in your drinks being served and not have to worry about who’s going to see what name brand you’re serving.

Wine Spritzers

The last drink idea is to take your favorite wine and mix it with club soda to create a wine spritzer. Take 2 parts wine to 1 part club soda. By adding a little club soda to the drink you stretch out the wine further and it gives the wine a bit of a fizzy, zing.