How to Serve Summer Drinks

 

When you serve summer drinks, presentation can make a world of difference. These simple presentation tips can make even the simplest glass of water look and feel like a gourmet treat. Although a cool beverage is always welcome in the hot summer months, you can take your summer drinks to the next level with these presentation tips, culled from lifestyle experts and from the handbooks of professional caterers. These simple techniques are perfect for dressing up your summer drinks for a party, or for just making a regular afternoon feel like a party! Read on to discover an arsenal of professional presentation tricks for dressing up your summer drinks.

A Fresh Touch

Nothing says “summer” like freshness. In the season when sun-ripened produce is pouring out of backyard gardens all across the world, why not add a fresh touch to your summer drinks? Floating a fresh garnish like a sprig of mint or a slice of lemon in your summer drinks makes for presentation that elevates even a glass of water or club soda into a beverage worthy of a five star restaurant. The aroma of fresh ingredients added to summer drinks just before serving makes them even more enticing.

Accent Ice Cubes

Ice cubes are a must to keep summer drinks cold and refreshing. However, ice can look bland in a glass, and taste bland as it melts into your summer drinks. These necessary evils can become the visual highlight of a beverage, and preserve the taste, with one simple change. Instead of freezing water, freeze a liquid that will match your drink! If you’re serving lemonade, for example, try filling your ice cube tray with orange juice for a harmonious dash of color in your glass, and a pleasing hint of extra citrus in your drink. Any non-alcoholic liquid you serve can be frozen into ice, so use your creativity to create beautiful and tasty frozen accents for your summer drinks. With a little bit of advance warning, you can even create layered ice cubes! Fill your ice cube tray one third full, and let freeze until the top of the liquid solidifies. Then, pour in another kind of liquid, let freeze until the top of that is solid, and fill the tray to the top with the same kind of liquid you started with. This will create unique, custom colored and flavored striped ice cubes perfect for your summer drinks. Try creating an exotic “citrus sandwich” cube by freezing a middle layer of lemonade between layers of tangerine juice.

Chilled Glasses

A few hours before you serve a round of summer drinks, slide some glasses into the fridge to chill. The frostier the glass, the prettier the appearance of a summer drink. Plus, the added cooling power of a chilled glass is a welcome relief from the heat for the person holding it, and helps the drink stand up to the warm weather.

Frozen Fruit

If you’re serving summer drinks that contain fruit, or would match a fruit flavor, consider ditching ice cubes all together. Instead, drop a few pieces of frozen fruit into your glass for a beautiful presentation that would make a professional caterer proud. Throw a tray of grapes, strawberries, or banana slices into your fridge and let them freeze overnight, or until hard to the touch. Then, use these frozen treats in lieu of ice cubes for stunning presentation and serious cooling power in your summer drinks.

Arrange A Great Tray

If you haven’t got time to try out one of the presentation techniques that require advance preparation, like frozen fruit or chilled glasses, you can still dress up your summer drinks at the last minute just by arranging the drinks creatively on an appealing tray. For a unique serving tray, use a large picture frame with a raised rim, and slide a copy of a favorite image inside. Then, pour your summer drinks into a variety of differently shaped and sized glasses, and head for the table. An assortment of glasses makes it easy for guests or family members to remember whose drink is whose, and everyone enjoys selecting their own summer drinks from the bountiful array.

What Combination of Cigars + Booze = Pleasure?

 

The moment you puff on a cigar, the effect is potent. Your taste buds react powerfully. A cigar’s piquancy loiters on your palate for hours, influencing whatever you are drinking. If you plan to drink while smoking a cigar, it is worth the effort to make sure you choose an appropriate beverage that will compliment the cigar.

Many cigar lovers find that strong drinks with a high alcohol content are the best thing to pair with a cigar. A handy guideline is to choose a beverage with similar weight and body as the body and strength of the cigar. But rules are made to be broken. While aficionados wouldn’t consider sipping a glass of Cabernet or champagne while puffing a cigar, others have found pleasure pairing a light cigar with a flute of Dom Pérignon.

The typical accompaniment to a great cigar is rum, brandy, whisky, or port.

 

  • Rum

Tobacco is used for both items so pairing rum with cigars is a natural fit. And rum is made with sugar which goes with a smoky cigar like almonds covered in chocolate. The fact that rum can be easier on the wallet than some other hard liqueurs is another attraction. A note of caution – there are no standards for rum quality so beware of inferior bottles of the libation.

Straight or on the rocks, a cigar paired with a glass of high-quality rum is a relatively safe bet.

  • Brandy

If we went by tradition alone, Cognac is the choice of accompaniment for cigar smokers. As Cognac is often served after dinner and cigars are frequently smoked after a meal, the two may have come together out of opportunity. Cognac comes in three types – VS (very superior), VSOP (very special old pale), and XO (extra old). Most taste buds will love the combination of a full-bodied cigar and an XO Cognac. If you are smoking a light cigar, a panatela perhaps, a VSOP is a good choice. Cognac has established itself as one of the finest types of brandy but don’t discount ones made in southern France or even California.

With the rising popularity of cigar smoking while enjoying a brandy, bottles of the fine liquid have appeared on store shelves that are created specifically for imbibing while enjoying a cigar. Some common choices include Hine Cigar Reserve Cognac, Davidoff Classic Cognac, Davidoff Extra Cognac, Pinar del Rion, A. de Fussigny Cigare Blend, the Cigar Blend from Germain-Robin, and Pierre Ferrand Cogare Blend Reserve Havana, among other choices.

  • Whisky

Some cigar connoisseurs consider a glass of single malt scotch to be the ultimate partner for a weighty cigar. Purists say the scotch is best served straight or with a splash of pure spring water, never ice which can dull the taste and aroma. Eighty to one hundred proof is ideal. Other single malt whiskeys and Irish whiskeys are also popular.

  • Port

Port is a perfect cigar accompaniment due to its sweetness. The silky, smooth wine coats your tongue and throat and cleanses your palate, eliminating the chance of your cigar overpowering your taste buds. Make sure you choose a fine vintage for maximum effect. A tawny port is usually well aged and its thickness is what encompasses your tongue, leaving a sensation like no other.

Beer?

What about beer? While beer is not the usual drink people think to order when puffing on a cigar, it does have its fans. Not long ago you wouldn’t see any self-respecting cigar smoker chugging a beer but nowadays, pubs and beer festivals are holding stogy sessions in their cigar rooms. If you want to try a beer with your cigar, aim for a dark, strong beer with robust flavour; few lighter beers are able to hold its own against a cigar. With a spicy cigar, try a fruit-tinged beer. Of course taste is subjective so whatever you like best, go for it! If a bottle of Budweiser is what you love with a classic Cuban, do it.

There are a slew of other drinks you might want to consider, depending on what your cigar-smoking taste buds prefer. Consider a glass of Bailey’s on the rocks, a dry martini, a margarita, coffee laced with Irish Cream, a Kahlua of some sort, a dark barley wine, or even a Mai Tai. Ignore what drink is the most socially correct one with your cigar; go with what gives you the most pleasure.

For those who like a non-alcoholic drink with their cigar, coffee is the usual choice. A complex coffee or a cup of espresso, with its preponderance of flavours, can make your taste buds sing. For some people, the combination is as pleasurable as a cigar and a good Cognac or the perfect glass of port.

The type of cigar you are smoking is a deciding factor in what drink to enjoy. Smoking a $20 cigar rolled on the thighs of virgins calls for a different drink than a cigarillo sold for $1.99 in a cellophane packet. Even the time of day can influence your cigar plus drink choices. A cigar smoked after an evening meal will be different than one you smoke as the sun rises.

The only way to figure out what cigar and booze combination you like best is through experimentation. Keep in mind that a cigar should never overpower a drink and a drink should never overpower a cigar. Through trial and error you will learn what makes your palate smile so get busy!

How to be Single and Happy at a Social Event: The Easy Way to Attend and Enjoy Events Alone

 

Whether by choice, between relationships or the hostess is short on space, a single invitation, many people have to face social occasions alone. Whatever the reason, it is possible for singletons to attend an event alone and still have fun.

Positive Mental Attitude

Many people find it helpful to think about the event, to picture where it is and what it will be like. They also see themselves meeting new people, smiling, chatting and enjoying it. Visualising a successful outcome can be key to actually attaining that outcome.

Enlisting the Help of the Hostess

When attending a social gathering alone, many invitees find it useful to remind the hostess they are alone. The hostess can introduce the single person to other friends and like-minded individuals. The hostess can also seat single people together at a wedding or seated dinner to ensure that the single person always has a companion and a good time.

Freshening Up

When arriving early, many single people find it easier to head straight to the bathroom to freshen up, than to stand alone. This buys the single person time and space to prepare for the evening ahead, whilst reapplying make up. Many people find the bathroom is a great place to strike up conversations with other guests, who are also, at that moment at least, on their own too.

A Glass of Champagne

Many people find it useful to have a drink. Sipping a drink allows single guests to survey the party landscape, while having something to do with nervous hands. They shouldn't gulp down the first drink and go back for five more. They should use it to become less inhibited and have a better time.

Taking a Camera

Many single people find offering to take photos is a great way to integrate with other guests. Asking people to get together, pose and make the most of the celebrations allows single people to strike up conversations and meet others effortlessly.

Assisting With Party Proceedings

If the party is being held at a friend’s house, many single people find it useful to offer to help with refreshments. Taking around drinks, canapés and talking in general terms to the guests allows single people to see who they'd like to return to after they've done their chores, and escape those they don't want to have too much contact with.

Being Fashionably Late

Many invitations say things like "12.30 for lunch at 2". Single people should time their arrival to minimise the time they will need to socialise. Arriving around or after 1.30 will give the single person enough time to meet people, but not so long that they’ve exhausted conversations and are looking for the exit. Arriving late can help the single person slip into a party unnoticed, however, if it is a sit-down meal, being late can make the single person the centre of attention. The single invitee needs to weigh up each event individually to get it just right.

Making a Night of it

Being single means being free! The single invitee can do what they want, when they want, with whom they want. They don’t have to sit with a partner who doesn’t want to talk to anyone else. They can enjoy the evening on their own terms and slip away at a time to suit them, be it 10 minutes or 10 hours later. It’s a great opportunity to go with meeting new people and maybe meet a new partner.

Always Accept the Invitation

In summary, using the single invitation as an opportunity for adventure is the way forward. Single people should never refuse an invitation, even if they feel awkward or alone. Getting out of the house and enjoying social occasions can be manageable and fun if the single person uses visualization and coping techniques in advance of the event.