Opening Bubbly

Our neighbors gave us a bottle of sparkling wine recently as a thank-you for the numerous times that Ever Patient Spouse helped them load and unload their kayak from the roof of their car.

Last Saturday night, it was a gorgeous summer evening that seemed perfect for sipping some bubbles.

Don’t be intimidated to open champagne or other sparkling wine.

The cork only flies off haphazardly in movies, not real life, nor does it spray wildly out of the bottle unless a pro athlete vigorously shakes it before it’s opened at the end of the Super Bowl.

To open:

  • Remove the foil.
  • Untwist the wire cage. Keep your thumb on top as a precaution while you untwist, but it’ll be fine.
  • Hold the bottle in its mid-section with your non-dominant hand.
  • Cover the cork with a towel and grasp the top with your dominant hand.
  • Turn the bottle, not the cork. It should release with 3-4 turns.
  • Pour, toast and enjoy!

Cheers!

For a really spectacular presentation, consider sabering the bottle. This isn’t as hard as it seems, and the WOW factor is extreme.

Here’s how to do it:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dizzy Water

Last weekend, my darling friend W. and I went out to dinner at this place, and yes, the cocktails were insane.

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Welcome, Dizzy Water.

Mix:

  • 1 part Limoncello
  • 2 parts ginger beer
  • Add ice

Garnish with this. 

Seriously, these Luxardo cherries are out of this world.

No more than that.

The bartender told me that the cherries are $100 wholesale in the size they order and they have to be hidden from staff.

Delish. 

P.S. Find them here.

 

 

 

Summer Refresher

We’re back from vacation!

No major drama, either, so that’s a good thing.

While I otherwise missed out on opportunities to consume fruity umbrella drinks, I did have a small digestif that I think is going to be my new go-to when hosting summer meals.

The drink itself is simple: use a melon baller to place 1-2 small scoops of sorbet into a champagne glass and top with bubbly.

I had a lemon sorbet/champagne combo, but I can already imagine that mango, raspberry or even something more exotic would also be delicious.

Serve it with a tiny spoon in case guests want a a nibble of the sorbet before it totally melts.

Yum.

 

 

Small Talk

Last fall I posted a piece about making small talk at cocktail parties, and specifically, how I hate the usual questions like “What do you do?”

I tend to hate talking about superficial things and really value Deep, Important Conversation, but let’s face it, you probably shouldn’t start expounding on your extreme political views while in line at the DMV.

That’s why I’m excited about this new book about making small talk:

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Here are the authors giving examples of what to talk about in different situations, like an elevator, cocktail party or on a plane.

My new favorite cocktail party question:

Would you rather give up caffeine or gluten for the rest of your life?

Want more? Here’s a great excerpt from the book. 

Squalid Overboogie

This month’s Vanity Fair has an interesting piece by Lili Anolik about Eve Babitz, a 1960s cross between artist and super groupie.

A quote from the article, describing Eve’s self-proclaimed “groupie adventuress” era:

By the end of the decade, Eve knew everyone. She was at every party, every event. “Life was one long rock ’n’ roll,” she’d say of those days. Even fun, though, can get to be a drag if you have too much of it. Writer Dan Wakefield, Eve’s big romance during this period, said, “Our year together was one of my favorite years, but I couldn’t have lived through two of them. My God, the decadence!” By 1971, Eve was suffering from a condition she termed “squalid overboogie.” It was time for a change.

Squalid overboogie. I love it.

 

 

One More Thing, #12

Another great casual dessert idea if you’re hosting a (smallish) dinner party: The giant chocolate slab.

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Guittard oversized chocolate bar

This image features Guittard, a family-owned company from California, but there are now so many excellent chocolatiers that you can take your pick.

While you could also present a display of smaller, artisanal bars and allow guests to pick and choose flavors, I love the scale and drama of the oversized bar.

Put this on a tray or cutting board with a sharp knife, surround it with dried fruits and nuts, and voila! Do it yourself dessert. No oven required.

P.S. Feeling even lazier? You can customize your own chocolate bars here. S’mores bar with graham crackers and marshmallows? Yes, please.

Dessert in the Living Room

We don’t entertain all that much, but that doesn’t stop me from hoarding ideas about entertaining.

Usually this takes the form of pages ripped from magazines with recipes, play lists, pictures of place settings, etc, all of which gets stuffed into a drawer in our kitchen island that threatens to explode. But hey, I may need to source calavera molds when I throw an authentic Dia de los Muertos celebration someday.

The following ideas come straight from Real Simple, my favorite magazine (November 2013 issue).

I’ll skip the dinner menu and tips, because what was more interesting to me were the ideas about dessert.

  • For one, RS recommends serving dessert in the living room. This signals to guests that a new chapter of the party is starting and lets you switch up conversation partners, which is a godsend if you’re stuck next to, say, your drunk uncle who loves guns.
  • Dessert elsewhere also allows the host to abandon the mess. A direct quote from RS: “It makes guests feel relaxed and lets you seem chill, even if you’re not.”
  • A great surprise: Serve champagne after the meal. This is so festive, especially for the holidays. I love this tip.
  • Make mini desserts. It obviates the bellyaching with “just a sliver” requests. And tiny desserts are adorable.
  • This genius idea was from a caterer in NYC: Instead of asking who wants coffee, bring out a tray of small, prepoured cups. Decaf is more than fine, especially if your dinner parties are like mine and tend to end way later than anticipated.

Last idea: Circulate a small plate of seriously fancy chocolates or caramels at the end for a sweet finish. And invite me next time!