A Guide to Your Holiday Drink Station
By Halle Cook Published October 2020
I started being groomed as the designated family bartender as soon as I reached the age of 21. While the focus of Thanksgiving dinner and the holidays may be a beautifully prepared dinner, we all know the meal would not be complete without the perfect bar menu that highlights all the delicious flavors of the holiday season. If you’ve been nominated to be in charge of keeping the holiday spirits high, or plan on proving once and for all that you’re the hostess with the mostest, check out this drink station guide that will help you outshine the main course.
Holiday Batch Cocktails
When you’re in charge of planning, prepping, cooking and making sure the kids’ rooms are spotless for your guests (even if no one goes in there), it can be hard to prioritize the drink menu. That’s when batch cocktails lend more of a helping hand than your co-hosts. These are delicious, multiple serving cocktails that can delight everyone at once rather than bartending for each individual. Serve recipes like Pinnacle’s holiday cranberry punch or a red sangria in a pitcher or a large bowl and let your guests self-serve. Captain Morgan’s home for the holidays punch is the perfect addition to family festivities. It combines classic flavors like cranberry and citrus, and just takes a simple light swirl of the spoon to combine before serving.
Sometimes it’s much easier to plan than it is to execute. Situations and distractions arise unexpectedly and you might find yourself scrambling to maintain your desired timeline. We’ve got some helpful tips that may alleviate some of the hosting stress; remember, you’re supposed to enjoy the day too!
Garnish your glasses before the event: We all want our drinks to look as beautiful as they taste, but intricate garnishes can take time and pull focus away from spending time with your loved ones. We suggest prepping your garnishes during set-up. Rim your glasses or cut your fruits and herbs while you prepare the bar station before guests arrive. Try cocktails like the maple bourbon smash which use garnish ingredients that can sit out until it’s time for drinks. This allows you to simply pour and serve, making sure you don’t miss out on any fun festivities.
Simple cocktails: We love our friends and family, but let’s be real, sometimes their pickiness is a pain in the ass-orted drinks they request. Your spouse wants a vodka martini, your sibling is more interested in an Old Fashioned, while mom and dad can’t even decide. Save yourself the frustration of creating a drink menu that encompasses everyone’s desires and go the simple cocktail route. Buy a collection of everyone’s favorite spirits, some simple ingredients like club soda, limes and cola, and lay it out for self-serve at your bar area. Your guests can create their cocktail of choice and save the arguing for when it’s time to do the dishes.
Wine serving tips: Planning the wine pairing for an important holiday meal can be intimidating. There is a lot of pressure to find the perfect wine and make sure it brings out all the best flavors in the dish. This doesn’t have to be as scary as it sounds, we have tips from the pros on how to best highlight your favorite wines. Remember, wine WANTS to help your meal be as delicious it can be. Advice from our wine experts will help turn you into the family sommelier and give you plenty of fun facts to fill any awkward dinner silence.
Glassware plays a big part in the drinking experience. Using glassware that matches your cocktail, wine selection, or beer choice can help highlight key flavors in your drinks.
If you are serving white wine, we recommend a wine glass with a long stem and a thin rim. The stem creates space and something for your hand to hold so it doesn’t warm the chilled wine. The thin rim also helps bring out the acidity and floral flavors of a delicious white. Red wines tend to reveal more of their palate in a deep, wide-rimmed glass; it helps the tannins breath and provides more space for you to take a big whiff of the aromas for a sip. Sparkling wines like Prosecco and Champagne work best in flute glasses so that air can travel throughout the drink.
Glassware for cocktails have looser guidelines. Bourbon-based drinks work well in rocks glasses, while cocktails that have carbonation tend to be served in a highball glass. At the end of the day, glassware is often used as another focal point of decoration. Serve your drinks in glasses you find visually appealing and will make your guests say, “wow.”
DIY Décor Ideas
Sometimes it can be hard to get in the holiday spirit here in Florida. The sun is still shinning and the hope for a white Christmas is an eggnog induced dream. But that doesn’t have to stop you from decking the halls with boughs of holly. DIY décor is also a great way to get your kids involved so they don’t feel left out of any holiday festivities. Have your little elves create paper snowflakes, paint some tree ornaments and if you’re feeling especially artsy, string together popcorn. These little projects are a great way to keep kiddies occupied and give your house that ho-ho-holiday vibe, while you are focused on planning, setting up or maybe just taking a refreshing adult beverage break.
Appetizers at the Drink Station
If you don’t want your gathering to get too fun before the meal even starts, we recommend having some nibbles alongside your pre-dinner drinks. Grab-and-go appetizers like a bowl of peanuts or a cheese board are always a hit, but sometimes on a holiday you just want to go all out. Luckily, we have some delicious boozy food recipes to let your taste buds know it’s time to start celebrating. Recipes like bourbon bacon dip and veggies and Jai Alai IPA hummus may be adult-only, but they are served with dippable foods that everyone can enjoy!
Pricing, selection and vintages may vary by location.