Provided by Lloyd Wells; freelance writer for Arabian Tents.
Forget about making food the showstopper at your next garden party. Jamie Oliver’s Quails eggs with dipping salts, haggis croquettes and pimped up bruschetta can take a break. That’s not to say they can’t make an appearance on another occasion, but for this gathering drinks are king (or queen). Take the pressure off yourself and enjoy the alchemy. Making drinks the centre-piece, the pièce de résistance, can substantially cut down your workload, leaving you more time to pretty up the place and enjoy your guests company. There’ll be some ‘prepping’ to do before party day, but that can only be a good thing to help get you organised and on track. Posh sandwiches, quiches, salads and delectable strawberry tartlets can be pre-ordered from your favourite food outlet. Shh we won’t tell.
So, here are our top cool drink recipes to make your garden party cocktail selection the most talked about party topic this summer.
Classic French Martini
Kick start the party with a stylish fruity number.
Ingredients (for 6)
300 ml vodka, 125 ml Chambord (raspberry liqueur), 500 ml pineapple juice, frozen raspberries to serve.
Method – Stir all the liquid ingredients together in a large jug and fill the jug with ice. Strain and serve in martini glasses.
Rosy prosecco cocktails
Keep the party going and propose a toast with these pretty cocktails that will almost certainly get an ‘ooh’ from the female fraternity.
Prosecco, pomegranate juice, frozen rose buds or rose petals
Method – place rose petals on a tray or better still tiny rosebuds in ice cube trays and freeze (you’ll need to do this bit the night before the party). When you’re ready to serve, line up your champagne flutes and pour ⅓ juice ⅓ prosecco. Pop in a couple of rose petals or better still rose buds and wait for the delighted ‘oohs’.
The cheeky draft cocktails
You’re no bartender, and milling with guests is more important, so it won’t do to be dashing off to the kitchen to grudgingly prepare another round. As the party gets under way, guests expect your full attention. Cocktails you can prepare before your guests arrive are the way to go. So, fill up those drink dispensing Kilner jars and let your guests help themselves. That leaves you more time to wow the guests with your calm, and delightful prose.
We had to include a great recipe spotted in The Guardian recently. If you’re keen to inject a waft of the tropics, then this is the cocktail for you. And the best news is you can make it up to 3 days ahead. You can’t get more organised than that.
Premium dry gin, pomegranate juice, grapefruit juice, lime juice, pineapple juice and lime wedges to garnish.
Strawberry and basil lemonade – the mocktail
A non-alcoholic alternative is a must. This one is definitely not on the list of new, but it’s time-tested and what can be more quintessentially British than a strawberry based mocktail. What’s more, most of the prep can be done days before. It’s a win-win.
We recommend Delia’s lemonade recipe, which uses 6 large lemons and 150g granulated sugar. This recipe makes approx 175ml, so you’ll need to multiply up according to the size of your Kilner jar.
For the strawberry and basil syrup you’ll need 1kg strawberries, a bunch of basil (leaves only), 200g granulated sugar, juice of 1 lemon (this will make approx ½ litre).
Method: pulp strawberries and basil in a food processor. Pass through a sieve. Transfer juice to a saucepan with the sugar and lemon juice. Bring to a simmer for 5 minutes, skimming any foam. Strain again and leave to cool. Pour into a sterilised jar and refrigerate.
On party day, pour the homemade lemonade into the Kilner jar adding strawberry and basil puree to taste, along with ice. Sliced, hulled strawberries and basil leaves can be added for the finishing touches.
Slushies for the kids
Chances are it’s not an all adult affair, so be prepared for cooling the kids off with this scrumptious treat. And in case you’re worried about running out of ice, you don’t need any for this ingenious little number.
Iced watermelon and strawberry slush
1 small watermelon
250g punnet of ripe strawberries (tops removed)
Juice of 1-2 limes
The day before the party cut up the watermelon removing skin and seeds. Place in the freezer in a freezable bag. When the kids are ready, whizz up the frozen watermelon, strawberries and fresh lime juice. Serve in colourful cups with straws, or in mason jam jars. Yum.
What’s your ultimate garden party cocktail?
Until Next Time… Charlotte x