Cocktail-parties-2

7 Summer Cocktails Every Party Needs

Who doesn’t love sipping on a super-cool cocktail in the balmy summer weather? Spruce up your skills and try these delicious beverages which are sure to be a hit at any summer get-together.

RELATED: Easy Champagne Cocktail Ideas

Mojito

There’s nothing more summery than a cool mojito, especially since it tastes so crisp and fresh. Use fresh mint straight from the garden for that authentic taste – yum!

7 Summer Cocktails Every Party Needs

Bellini

Enjoy a fruity bellini made with crushed ice and frozen strawberries for extra flavour. Keep a pack in the fridge and don’t forget to mix and match with blueberries and raspberries for a truly unique taste.

7 Summer Cocktails Every Party Needs

Pimms

Round up all your favourite fruits with a pitcher of Pimms for the entire party. This is the perfect drink to share since it’s so tasty!

7 Summer Cocktails Every Party Needs

Margarita

Bring a new twist to a classic margarita by incorporating some seasonal summer cocktails into the mix. Our favourite has to be watermelon since it’s cool and fresh on a hot day.

7 Summer Cocktails Every Party Needs

Long Island Ice Tea

Who doesn’t love the taste of a Long Island? Make this one into a punch for the entire party to enjoy and make sure to finish off with a glazed cherry.

7 Summer Cocktails Every Party Needs

Mimosa

Enjoy an ice-cold Mimosa which is perfect for those who prefer something light and crisp to begin the evening.

7 Summer Cocktails Every Party Needs

Piña Colada

A delicious Piña Colada is a summertime staple since it combines a fruity pineapple taste with a dash of dry rum.

7 Summer Cocktails Every Party Needs

Images via Laurie Evans, Today, The Glitter Guide, Damn Delicious, Spiced Blog

July 25, 2015

7 Habits of Highly Stress-Free Hostesses

Entertaining season is in full swing, so luckily Babe Scott, the Lazy Hostess, shares her tips on how to host guests in style without having a nervous breakdown.

Excerpt from The Lazy Hostess by Babe Scott. Published by Random House, RRP $29.95.

1. Recruit a friend to play the role of sous chef
There is nothing lonelier than cooking solo, especially when you don’t know your left elbow from an artichoke. I never cook alone. It’s as much fun as a private joke. Recruit a friend with culinary talents to be your sous chef. Cooking with a friend turns the preparation itself into a social event. It means you will have someone to chop onions and share tall stories with as well as confer on the menu. He or she can also make sure you stay on course and don’t get distracted and incinerate the meal. They can also teach you all their tips and tricks, like making sure the oven is turned on.

Make sure you both taste everything so you can compare notes on flavours. Having someone else to consult will give you the confidence to add a little twist here and there to suit your own tastes. Spending time in the kitchen is also a great bonding exercise and you two, or even three, can share a spot of sherry to get in the mood before the guests arrive.

I guarantee you will learn more about your foodie friends in the time it takes to put together your finger food menu than if you had known them for years. There’s something about the camaraderie of the kitchen that inspires confidences. But, remember, what goes on over the stovetop stays over the stovetop.

2. Pre-plan the evening
More important that you have time to relax, do your nails and douse yourself with perfume. You want to look and feel perfectly edible. You don’t want to be outshone by the hors d’oeuvres.

I suggest preparing everything you can ahead of time. Any items you can pre-cook and freeze, do so on a rainy day with a friend. Then you can simply defrost and reheat them on the evening. It’s also better to spruce up your space and put together your party playlist at least the day before. And make sure at least a few items can be served at room temperature.

Make sure you have pre-thought everything else so you don’t have any last-minute panic attacks. The soundtracks and any sprucing up are also best done at least the day before. Make sure your kitchen cohort arrives early to help with the pre-heating and plating, and that you have a bunch of platters to put things on. This way, you will get to spend most of the day preening. If you do forget anything on the appointed evening, just pour yourself another drink and don’t worry. Throw up your hands and let someone else take care of it.

3. Delegate like a true diva
Friends love showing off their talents, so make sure you avail yourself of any skills they might have.  Make sure you delegate someone the role of official photographer. There is always some friend who thinks of themselves as an aspiring Mario Testino or David Bailey who will enjoy taking paparazzi-style snaps. Being the group happy-snapper is a great ticket to popularity as everyone (or at least all my friends) loves posing. This way you should have some great photos to mount on your wall of infamy and also to put in your party scrapbook later.

Palm off whatever other tawdry tasks you can too. For instance, you might have a friend who is great at decorating, so get her to help you create a festive atmosphere. Some other acquaintance may have a fantastic CD collection . . . you follow my drift. Delegate like a cocktail-party diva. This way everybody gets to feel like part of the event and his or her respective talents get recognised. Just make sure you point out and applaud each contributor’s efforts at some point during the evening. This also gives them plenty of talking points and gives you a good excuse to raise multiple toasts.

4. Serve an icebreaker signature cocktail
Nothing kickstarts a party better than serving your guests a signature cocktail at the door. It’s like giving them a dose of rocket propellant. It loosens people up straight off the bat and creates a great icebreaker by giving them something to talk about. It also adds a touch of pizzazz.

Make up a fabulous name for your libation that helps set the right tone for the evening. A good trick is to give it a slight twist and name it after yourself – for instance, the ‘Janetini’. This will lend it a little of your sparkling personality. Or call it something seductive like the ‘Sexytini’ and tell everyone this magical mix is an ‘aphrodisiac in a glass’. Nothing like the power of suggestion. And everyone can blame your mystical potion later for their misbehaviour.

5. Set a dress code
Another way to set the right tone straight off is to have a dress code. It’s all about flaunting our frocks and putting on the ritz. I like to pretend I am Princess Margaret holding court on the island of Mustique, or I will take fashion inspiration from Ginger Rogers or my all-time favourite fashion icon (‘I’m not bad, I’m  just drawn that way’) Jessica Rabbit. Thank God for push-up bras and shapewear. Dressing up is half the fun. Otherwise, you may as well go out and eat a falafel at your local food stand. And where’s the romance in that?

6. Let the games begin
Running a cocktail party is akin to running a daycare for delinquent children. I generally find guests regress to an infantile state as the night wears on. Just like controlling a hyperactive class of under-fives, you must make sure your charges are adequately fed and watered or they will become fractious.

I find having some fun activities on hand also helps. For instance, buy a karaoke machine from Toys R Us and let your friends take turns warbling. You may want a giant hook to get some of the keener songsters to leave the microphone, but it’s guaranteed hilarity.

7. Start a cocktail party guest book
Finally, start a guest book that your friends can write in before they leave. Try to select the ideal time for them to make the most flattering comments. This should be when they are drunk enough to be generous with their superlatives but not so loose they can barely string a sentence together. I would suggest  the ideal time is after a few beverages but before they start bopping on the dance floor. Encourage them to put into words what a fabulous time they had and let them know that they can’t be effusive enough, that high-flying fits of hyperbole are more than welcome.

Self-styled kitchen vixen, Babe Scott, has just released her new book, The Lazy Hostess, the ultimate guide to getting you through the party season in style – without fuss. We think The Lazy Hostess would make a great Christmas present for your BFF, sister, mum or aunty.

lazyhostess

November 29, 2013

The Lazy Hostess’ Easy Hors d’Oeuvres Ideas

Self-styled kitchen vixen, Babe Scott, has just released her new book, The Lazy Hostess, the ultimate guide to getting you through the party season in style – without much fuss. It’s packed with practical and sassy tips, like these easy yet impressive hors d’oeuvres ideas that are perfect for cocktail parties, summer entertaining or for when unexpected guests drop in.

We think The Lazy Hostess would make a great Christmas present for your BFF, sister, mum or aunty.

Excerpt from The Lazy Hostess by Babe Scott. Published by Random House, RRP $29.95.

If you scour the contents of your fridge and pantry you might well be able to create an instant cocktail menu supplemented by a few items bought from the corner shop. For instance, there are any number of foodstuffs you can pair with toasted baguette slices to create yummy crostinis. Chances are you will also have at least some of the ingredients to create if not ‘Pigs in Pashminas’ then another doughy delight.

If you have leftover soup or even canned soup, you can heat it up and serve it warm (not scalding) in shot glasses. If it’s a chunky soup, put it in the blender until it’s smooth so your guests don’t encounter any choking hazards as they ‘shoot their soup’. Just make sure whatever soup you serve is seasoned well. You can add a dab of sour cream to roasted red pepper, butternut squash, pumpkin or mushroom soup for extra zing.

Make sure you also put out whatever snacks you have to hand. They don’t have to be fancy. I like the faithful old standbys that have been around since my grandmother was getting soused at her sneak-a-spot-of-sherry quilting club: pretzels, salty roasted peanuts, almonds or any mixed nuts. You can also offer bowls of plain potato crisps, Ritz crackers, Twiglets, breadsticks, olives or any other goodies you have on hand. In a fit of desperation, I’ve even been known to put out bowls of Froot Loops.

Delicious Dips

You can also create delicious dips from leftover packet soup. Just add a tub of sour cream to almost any packet soup: for instance, onion, mushroom, vegetable or tomato. Simply blend the sour cream and soup mixture together in a food processor and add salt and pepper to taste. If you are running short of sour cream, you can substitute yoghurt, cream cheese or even mayonnaise for up to a third of the sour cream.

Serve these dips with leftover vegetables cut into crudites, which is a fancy term for veggies cut into strips and served with dip. You can use baby sticks of carrot, celery, cucumber, peppers, broccoli or cauliflower florets, and even spears of romaine lettuce.

There are also plenty of pre-made dips you can buy if you are pressed for time. Among my own personal faves are hummus, taramasalata and aubergine, but you can’t go wrong with any flavour that takes your fancy.

Just use your imagination and you won’t have to stretch your wallet or walk too far to create a mouthwatering menu.

Pimp your Popcorn

While plain old popcorn works a treat, you can add almost anything to it to give it a bit of zing. Just have a look at whatever herbs, spices and seasonings you have skulking around in your pantry and sprinkle them on to your popcorn after you’ve added some melted butter to help them stick.

The following are a few simple ways to give your popcorn some pizzazz.

First, you will need salted, butter-free, microwavable popcorn. Pop 225g of kernels for each recipe (which will make a party-sized bowl of popped popcorn). Then melt 60g of butter to coat it before adding the flavouring. As an option, you can also add 60ml of olive oil to lightly coat. Throw it all in a large bowl while warm and mix. You can also add some finely chopped chives or parsley to give some colour.

Parmesan Popcorn
40g grated Parmesan cheese
Toss with buttered popcorn

Mexican Style
1 tbsp fajita seasoning
Toss with buttered popcorn

Paprika Popcorn
1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
Toss with buttered popcorn

Curry Popcorn
1 tsp curry powder
Toss with buttered popcorn

lazyhostess

November 25, 2013

Bring Back Cocktail Hour

Self-styled kitchen vixen, Babe Scott, has just released her new book, The Lazy Hostess, the ultimate guide to getting you through the party season in style – without much fuss. It’s packed with practical and sassy tips to ensure your parties are talked about (for all the right reasons), with everything covered from invites and playlists to who to invite and how to get rid of guests who just won’t leave!

We think The Lazy Hostess would make a great Christmas present for your BFF, sister, mum or aunty.

Excerpt from The Lazy Hostess by Babe Scott. Published by Random House, RRP $29.95.

I’m on a mission to bring back Cocktail Hour. This tradition is the height of retro chic and adds a little sparkle to even the dullest week. It’s the perfect excuse to put on your glad rags and rev up your blender. Furthermore, cocktails are the perfect social lubricant. If you want a passport to popularity, then hosting a semi-regular Cocktail Hour is the best way to do it. It’s also an ideal way to lump a bunch of people together without too much fuss. It will help you build and cement your social circle in a way that only an alcohol-propelled party can.

Cocktail Hour can be a fairly intimate affair or a big, thrashing, swinging-from-the-chandeliers event. It’s an opportunity to quaff cocktails and snack on finger food while mingling with other guests. In theory, cocktail parties go from two to three hours.

However, my soirées usually last long into the night. On my invitation I generally put a start and end time of 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., but I’m nearly always trying to crowbar the laggards out the door at well past midnight.

Since there are bound to be a couple of last-minute no-shows, invite one extra person for every ten guests who say they are coming. Make sure your friends also know you are not Ivana-berich Trump and to bring a bottle of plonk. Work out what you need and let each of your guests bring a contribution to the beverage quota. Remember: the purpose of this event is to up your fun quotient, not to land you in the ‘pour’ house.

A Sinfully Sexy Invitation
It’s worth emailing a proper invitation. Simply calling on the phone or sending a random text doesn’t convey a sense of occasion. Nor do the generic invitations you can find online. A gorgeous invitation will make your event stand out and will also convey right mood. The invitation should evoke old-school glamour and a sense of excitement. It should also clearly set a dress code. You want your friends to know they can’t just turn up in their flip-flops for a beer but should do their best to look foxy.

Spruce Up Your Space
Arrange furniture so that guests can move around the room easily and engage in a little impromptu dancing later on in the evening. Clear debris from whatever surfaces you can so guests have somewhere to leave their glasses and you have somewhere to put snack bowls. Make sure your guests can clearly see the snacks and offer them to people when you’re doing the rounds.

Set up a table for beverages, as well as a separate station for finger food. Preferably, position these stations on opposite sides of the room to cut down on people traffic. Make sure there is some seating around the sides of the room for guests who need to catch their breath from dancing like the possessed. Throw a couple of tablecloths over your stations to spruce them up. Put one or two citrus-fruit halves, cut side down, on the table for people to stick their used toothpicks into. If you don’t have enough serving plates, then improvise – cutting boards, picture frames, lightweight mirrors or even large books. You can also often buy beautiful vintage platters and serving plates from antique stores for next to nothing.

Decorative Touches
Decorate with some festive bunches of flowers if you like, even if you borrow them from the garden of a green-fingered neighbour. Vine leaves also work a treat and create a Bacchanalian effect. If you are an artsy-craftsy type and want to save money, consider creating vases out of old bottles by purchasing a bottle cutter. Or you could put a handy friend to the task. You can also make votive candleholders and even drinking glasses

Smooth Soundtracks
Music helps your guests unwind and gets them into a celebratory mood. A great soundtrack is crucial for to a memorable night. The tunes selected should ideally match your theme and the atmosphere you want to create. The best way to manage the music is to create a couple of playlists for the party so you can strike the right mood. The earlier one can be a bit more mellow and then as things rev up put on a party mix.

lazyhostess

November 18, 2013