If you’re hosting Thanksgiving this year, you know all the work that’s involved in putting a feast together for friends and family. The turkey may take center stage but it’s also important to give some thought to the drinks you’ll be serving. Here are 10 tips for hosts to help you keep the drinks flowing with minimal fuss and maximum enjoyment.
1. Start the festivities with a welcome cocktail. Instead of asking what they want, greet your guests with a drink that you’ve already made when they arrive. Especially if you’re cooking, you don’t want to start playing bartender, mixing up different cocktails for each guest. Pick one popular drink like a Cosmopolitan or a French 75 and get it ready in batches in advance.
2. Test your cocktail the day before. If you’re not an expert mixologist, make the drink beforehand so you can get a little practice in and feel certain that it’s a good choice. That’s what Wednesdays before Thanksgiving were intended for!
3. Get your barware out and cleaned now. You don’t want to be scrambling for glasses when your guests arrive or worse, cleaning off the dusty coupe glasses you haven’t used since last year while the stuffing is burning. Do this work in advance and remember to get one of those scrub brushes on a handle so you don’t have an accident sticking your hand inside a glass to clean it.
4. Use the best ingredients. Part of what makes a great drink are the ingredients you put into it. Fever-Tree tonics and sodas are excellent. If your drink requires juice of any kind, use fresh squeezed. If you want to serve a true craft cocktail, real ingredients make all the difference. Do not use pre-made mixers!
5. Have a pitcher of water available for guests. If your drinks are great (and of course they will be) guests can imbibe too quickly. Make it easy for everyone to stay hydrated so you don’t have to put your Aunt Susan in an Uber before the pie is served.
6. Don’t forget the garnishes. Citrus wedges, berries and sprigs of mint or rosemary may not seem important but add them to your shopping list. Garnishes not only add visual appeal to your cocktails, but they also enhance the flavor and aroma, making them an essential part of the experience.
7. Use proper bar tools. Shaking up a batch of margaritas in the plastic Pokemon cup your kids drink out of isn’t going to fly. A cocktail shaker, a cocktail strainer and mixing glass and a jigger for measuring are must-haves when you’re mixing drinks. These items don’t have to be super expensive but they are important so you can measure correctly and make your drinks in the proper method.
8. Toss expired spirits. We’ve all heard that vodka can basically last forever but that’s not true of all spirits, especially ones that are fruit flavored. That dusty bottle of crème de cassis that has moved with you to your last three homes should probably get tossed.
9. Get ice! The fastest way to ruin a Thanksgiving get-together or any holiday party is to run out of ice. The plastic trays in your freezer aren’t going to be enough so be sure to pick up a bag or two at the store. If you want to get fancy, you can use ice molds to suit the drinks you’re making.
10. Don’t underestimate the power of a smart outfit and a good drink. Let’s face it — hosting for the holidays can be stressful, but one easy way to feel confident is to get yourself dressed and get your drinks made. If you look good, you’ll feel good, and if your guests have good drinks, they won’t care so much about consistency of the mashed potatoes. Remember to look everyone in the eye when you cheers them and have a happy Thanksgiving!