Cocktails at 6

Hosting cocktail hour at your place, but haven’t a clue where to start? Read on.

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Sometimes, just ordering a drink can be daunting. Rum? Do I like rum? Maybe I’ll have a beer tonight. What is that blue bottle next to the gin?   

So, what happens when you’re asked to step on the other side of the bar and host cocktail hour at your place? No, you can’t just buy the closest bottle of heartburn-inducing margarita mix, just like you can’t serve frozen lasagna at a dinner party. But you needn’t be Tom Cruise in Cocktail either.

The trick is to not overthink it. Pick two simple-yet-sophisticated drinks and a few light finger snacks. This gives your guests options and keeps your to-do list minimal. Or better yet, ask a pro to walk you through it. We did.

Enter Natalie Bovis, the founder of The Liquid Muse, a mixologist and author of whole books about cocktails. She recommends two recipes – one she created, the Zen Sour, and one she didn’t, the Classic Sidecar. Both are light, easy and work well for the winter.

OK, drinks at 6 pm, your place. Let’s get started.



Get thee to a spirits store like BevMo! or Liquor Mart. Hey, maybe they deliver? The list below is for a party of 10, with two drinks each.  

This is the edible list:

  • 12 lemons
  • 2 bottles of Cointreau
  • 2 bottles of pisco (grape brandy)
  • 2 bottles of cognac
  • 2 bottles OM Wild Cranberry & Blood Orange
  • 1 dozen eggs
  • 1 bottle orange bitters
  • 1 box of sugar (sure get the fancy “cocktail sugar” if you like)
  • 1 package spiced mixed nuts
  • 1 package crostini toasts
  • 1 tub herbed goat cheese

This is the other stuff: 

  • 2 packages cocktail napkins
  • 2 cocktail shakers—Bovis says to opt for a three-part shaker, which consists of a glass, metal tin and separate strainer.
  • 1 jigger to measure the alcohol.
  • 15-20 glasses. You’ll want to cover the ones that break (it slipped out of my hand!) or are misplaced (maybe you left it in the bathroom?). And to heck with matching. Bovis says, “A mismatched set is aesthetically pleasing and a conversation starter.”
  • 12-15 small-sized plates
  • 1 medium serving plate
  • 3 small serving bowls
  • Ice


One-hour prior: set the scene

Create your designated bar area and put everything out to make sure you have what you need. Fill a small bucket with the ice, stack your glasses on the side, and pour a cup of sugar onto a small plate.

Snacks next: display a stack of plates and napkins, pour the nuts into two small serving bowls and spread a thin layer of the herbed goat cheese on each crostini toast and display on the large plate. Lastly, cut three lemons into small wedges and put into the third small serving bowl.


Thirty minutes and counting: get mixing

It’s good to make several of each drink prior to arrival time. This allows you to offer your first guests something right away.


The Classic Sidecar

First wet the rims of two glasses with a lemon wedge and dip then into a plate of sugar.

Pour 1 ounce fresh lemon juice, 1½  ounce orange liqueur and 4 ounces cognac into your shaker and add ice.

Shake gently and strain into the sugar-rimmed glasses. Two cocktails. Done.


Zen Sour

This recipe incorporates OM Cocktails, a pre-packaged, organic cocktail-in-a-bottle that is made to “buy and pour,” says Bovis.

Pour 1 ounce OM Wild Cranberry & Blood Orange, 1 ½ ounces pisco, ¾ ounce fresh lemon juice and 1 egg white into a cocktail shaker and “dry” shake (without ice).

Next, add ice to shaker and shake ingredients again, this time vigorously. Strain into a glass and top with a few dashes of orange bitters.


Set out your cocktails, queue up your playlist and soak up the compliments. The hard part is done.



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