Get the 411 on delicious cocktails, thirst quenchers, and smooth wines that pair perfectly with sunshine and salt-air breezes.
1 of 6Photo: Rick Lew
Build a Crowd-Wowing Bar
Whether you’re throwing an intimate dinner party or a backyard bash, a key to keeping guests happy is keeping their cups filled. But, with the endless offerings in liquor stores and on supermarket shelves, deciding what to serve can cause a serious headache. Here, event planners Christina Millikin and Lauren North from San Francisco’s Glow Event Design share how to build a crowd-wowing bar.
Choosing one party-appropriate drink and gathering a large amount of a few ingredients makes pre-party shopping a cinch. Plus, day-of set-up is simple: all you need is a large drink dispenser or pitcher, an ice bucket, and cups.
3 of 6Photo: Jennifer Davick
Limit Your Liquors
If you choose to have a DIY cocktail station, Millikin suggests sticking with just one or two spirits, like gin or rum—both popular and great in summer drinks. Guests can tailor the taste to their liking with fun, flavored mixers.
“I like to do a “G&T” bar with different flavored tonics and juices,” says Millikin. “Mojito stations are also great—offer mint leaves and lime juice so guests can make the classic version, and muddled berries for a fruity take.”
Throwing a daytime brunch or shower? Mimosas and bellinis are affordable and a cinch to whip up. Pair your favorite champagne or sparkling wine with fresh squeezed or pureed fruits, like orange, grapefruit, peach, strawberry, or blackberry.
If you prefer no-frills party prep or to focus on the food, opt to serve only beer and wine. North, a certified sommelier, suggests breaking out the sparkling wines, Sauvignon Blancs, or Pinot Noirs before dinner, then serving Chardonnay or Cabernet Sauvignon during the meal. Here are her picks for the best bottles to save and splurge on:
Sparkling: Save: NV Allimant Laugner Cremant d'Alsace Rosé - Alsace, France Splurge: 2004 Taittinger "Comtes de Champagne" Brut Blanc de Blancs - Champagne, France
Sauvignon Blanc: Save: 2012 St. Supéry Estate Sauvignon Blanc - Napa Valley, California Splurge: 2012 François Crochet Sauvignon Blanc - Sancerre, France
Chardonnay: Save: 2010 Jordan Chardonnay - Russian River Valley, California Splurge: 2010 Domaine Leflaive Macon Verze - Burgundy, France