As the home stretch of summer kicks in, it’s time to throw that outdoor cocktail party you’ve been thinking about since May. Back to school ads are on TV, Oktoberfest beers are creeping into liquor stores and heavy jackets are on display at retail shops. Invite some friends over and mix up a batch of warm-weather drinks before the steamy evenings melt into fall.
For a wealth of summer entertaining tips, I turn to my friend Jerry Lenoir, a classic cocktail buff and the Willie Wonka-like figure behind the enchanting Mr-Booze website.
Jerry has quite an elaborate bar set-up inside his home, so I was curious about his outdoor entertaining style. “I have a little tiki bar in our carport.” Jerry explained. “I’ve brought a couple of fans out there, plenty of lanterns and colored lights. I’ve set out tiki totems and hung bad Polynesian art – it’s fun.”
The Mr-Booze Website is filled with tips for hosting your party – everything from setting up your bar, selecting the perfect party tunes and prep work that can allow you more time to mingle with your guests.
“Decorating an outdoor space for the warm months can simply mean adding a string of lights, a few tiki torches and some sounds, all setting the mood for a removal from the mundane.” Jerry says. “You just want to be able to make someplace that is familiar a little special and exotic. You and your guests should feel, while drinking that cocktail, that you are somewhere whimsical, nostalgic and out of the ordinary.”
To make things easier Jerry advises to batch a couple of your drinks before the party. If you want to go one step further, Jerry suggests plugging in a blender outside. “Have a tub of ice, some fresh fruit, sugar and rum.” He says. “You can blend up batches at a time.”
On his website, Jerry describes frozen cocktails as akin to a swimming pool in terms of cooling off and relaxing. “When paired with a loose cotton shirt, shorts, no shoes and an Adirondack chair, angels should start singing ’cause you’re that close to Heaven.” He muses. “Like peaches, Christmas trees and pumpkins, the frozen drink is completely seasonal. You should feel like a fool sipping one after Labor Day. They call for hurricane glasses, whole fruit garnish, and plenty of awkward silences as you and your guests suck them down.”
While many associate blender drinks with daiquiris and margaritas, Jerry’s website features an interesting variety of frozen cocktail recipes. Being a tequila lover, I was intrigued by the cactus colada- an alluring mixture of coconut cream, pineapple and tequila. While similar to a pina colada, the agave punch gives this refreshment an eye-opening smack. Jerry’s describes its flavor as a fistfight between tequila and coconut. For me it’s a cheery alternative to the standard frozen margarita.
If you are concerned about hosting a backyard or rooftop party in the high heat, Jerry offers a simple guideline for determining whether to imbibe inside or out. “If the ice in my glass melts faster than it keeps my drink cold, I steer the gathering indoors. Good advice, Jerry!
The Cactus Colada
2 oz. tequila (better is better)
2 oz. cream of coconut
4 oz. pineapple juice
2 cups ice
Blend till creamy. Recipe courtesy of Adam Rocke’s book, Tiki Drinks.
Ingredients to make the cactus colada may be purchased at Dixie Liquor at 3429 M St. in Georgetown. More recipes and entertaining ideas can be found online at Mr-Booze.com.