Hosting a festive holiday party? We got all the details on how to throw the best cocktail party from the pro himself, Mat Snapp, Beverage Director and Mixologist for Fox Restaurant Concepts. See below for Mat’s tips to make your party the smoothest—and tastiest—party of the season.
Stock up on Ice – You’ll want to have a couple of different types of ice on hand, so plan ahead.
- Make ice cubes for individual drinks. If you don’t like how your tap water tastes, use bottled water – it can make a huge difference, especially in Arizona.
- You will also need bags of ice to keep your beer, wine and soft drinks chilled
Set Your Bar up for Success – Make it easy for party goers to help themselves by providing the proper tools. I always suggest laying out the following:
- Glassware – wine glasses and rocks glasses
- Cocktail shaker
- Bucket of your fresh, homemade ice for cocktails
- Put out all mixers, alcohol and red wines
- Fill a large bowl or bucket with store-bought ice, and use it to chill beer, white wine, and any nonalcoholic beverages
Batching Cocktails – Don’t spend your party time mixing drinks to order for your guests. Instead, batch up a couple of cocktails ahead of time. When the party guests start arriving, make it easy for them to pour themselves a drink from a punch bowl or a pitcher for easy serving. Need a recipe? The Apple Bourbon Punch is always a hit. We’ve provided you with the recipe below.
Trust Your Instincts & Don’t Over Do It – If you want to host a holiday party and drink fun beer and great wine but are feeling the pressure to put out something festive, don’t kill yourself to make a peppermint candy cane milk punch or two gallons of spiked egg nog. Have a few fun mixers and a hot beverage on hand – but don’t force feed your guests thick liquor!
Jello Jigglers are the New Jello Shots – A simple way to add some holiday spirit to your party without the stress, is to make fun and delicious Jello Jigglers in the shapes of Christmas trees or any holiday-themed shape. Skip the jello shots from your angst-y teenage years and go with jigglers instead. Those are fun, jello shots are tacky—but we won’t judge you.
Get Interactive with Dessert – Make a S’mores station! We like to inject marshmallows with Grand Marnier the night before so they make unbelievable S’mores. TIP: Don’t over inject. Use no more than a quarter ounce per mallow.
Make it Memorable – make sure there’s something for your guests to take home with them. Whether it’s an autographed picture of the family dog or a hand painted ornament, make sure your party is memorable even when it has ended!
Looking for punch recipes? Here is one from North Italia
Apple Bourbon Punch (pictured)
- .5 oz. Lemon juice
- .5 oz. Honey syrup
- 1 oz. Chai concentrate
- 1.5 oz. Apple bourbon
Directions: Add lemon juice, honey syrup, chai and apple bourbon to shaker with ice. Shake vigorously then strain over ice. Garnish with lemon zest and apple slices topped with cinnamon sugar.
*Per liter of bourbon, add 400 grams diced, Fuji apples and four slivered vanilla beans. Let soak for 48 hours, stirring once a day and then strain. When straining, let the fruit drip dry to extract all of the bourbon.