Spring 2017
Cheers! By Sam Ujvary

Celebrating the at-home happy hour

In the realm of gourmet, we see some amazing items. But one focus we often discount is the world of the craft cocktail. But why is it so often overlooked? The cocktail has so abundantly been explored in history and is often a silent decision-maker. Your favorite bartenders are constantly reinventing the cocktail wheel, putting new twists on previously perfected favorites. The perpetual evolution of these culinary masterpieces has its surges and backflows throughout history and plays a pivotal role in our lives.

“I think women have been driving the cocktail revival to a great extent. In part because of ‘Sex and the City,’ which captured the imagination of every young girl in the world who has a TV set,” said James Beard honoree Dale DeGroff. He is, of course, referring to the beloved Cosmopolitan.

It used to be, in terms of gifting items, liquors, liqueurs and bar items often went unseen because we’re used to fulfilling our adult beverage needs at the local watering hole; oftentimes, we head to a bar or lounge for a stiff drink. But the expensive upward-of-$15 cocktails you find in certain places isn’t something you particularly want to partake in on a regular basis. Truth be told, you’re often paying for ambiance. Not to mention rent, those leather-bound menus you see everywhere and the constantly breaking glassware.

People are spending more time at home with friends and family entertaining with dinners and cocktails. Home bar carts, bar tool kits and wet bars are becoming, once again, a highly considered aspect of a person’s kitchen and living room spaces. The role of the at-home bartender has launched craft cocktail and bar items to new heights. Here is where we get to explore our own culinary creativity. Bartender guides and recipe books allow you to make your own perfectly concocted beverages at home.

 

Bitters is a botanical companion for spirits that has been around for hundreds of years. Companies like 18.21 Bitters and Cocktail & Sons are the brainchild of master mixologists with proven track records of creating cocktail programs, syrups, bitters and other cordials as alcohol companions. Cocktail & Sons owner Max Messier compiled his own recipes to develop a line of handcrafted syrups designed for classic cocktails including the Old Fashioned, Tom Collins and Gimlet, as well as new-fangled modern cocktails. “My partner Lauren Myerscough and I are service industry veterans and home bar enthusiasts since our childhood days of our parents working up punches and Old Fashions for their friends and family,” said Messier. “We decided to partake in the expansion of the component syrup market mainly consisting of tonics, orgeats and grenadines with a line of syrups built for classic cocktails. All you need is fresh juice, good booze and Cocktail & Sons line of syrups to create amazing cocktails at home.”

Wine-A-Rita and Pelican Bay make mixes convenient for the masses — think weekend parties, and poolside party favors. Wine-A-Rita offers six flavors ideal for blending, including Blueberry Pomegranate, Peach Bellini and yes, that Cosmopolitan again. Pelican Bay offers the whole kit and caboodle in its Cooler Cocktail kits; drink mixes and to-go drink bags for a no-muss, no-fuss afternoon.

The vessels we choose to use for our beverages are specifically designed for a reason. Modeled after Marie Antoinette, the champagne coupe was fashionable during her time and is again a zeitgeist an often-seen choice in which to serve champagne. Rocks glasses with witty sayings, wine stoppers for any taste and even beautifully etched glass decanters have become staples in home décor as of late, with companies such as Bloomingville, Lenox and Kate Spade ahead of the curve.

Our beverage interests are constantly changing — sometimes dramatically — but either way, we’ve become enthralled in cocktails and all they entail.

Whatever the reason we’re pursuing libations — as an aperitif, in celebration, or any other number of reasons — these items are great with which to adorn our at-home bar carts and cabinets for the at-home happy hour.

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Sam Ujvary

Sam is the managing editor of Gift Shop Magazine and assistant editor for its sister publications, Stationery Trends, Museums & More and Party & Paper Retailer. She has a copywriting background and has been in publishing for five years.




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