{Food & Entertaining}

Thanksgiving: 5 Cocktails To Wow ‘Em!

Happy Harvest, Socialites!

Here we are, in mid-November, planning big dinners, detailed tabletops, and please-no-one-kill-each-other seating arrangements. You’re thinking of it all to make sure everyone has a good time and avoids jail time eats well! But while you’re choosing side dishes and weighing giant fowl, don’t leave out one of the most important ingredients in dealing with family: what is everyone drinking?

Sure, wine with dinner is traditional, classic, and easy. But why not kick it up a bit with all of one of these 5 fall flavored cocktails? Before dinner drinks, or for cozy after dinner convo, I’ve got you covered! Each recipe serves 2, because you’ll DEFINITELY want a refill.

The Pomegranate Martinipomegranate martini

  • 3 oz. plain vodka of your choice
  • 5 oz. POM Wonderful (antioxidant alert!!)
  • 1 oz. triple sec
  • pomegranate seeds and orange rind for garnish

Combine in an ice filled shaker and strain into martini glass. Garnish with an orange rind curl on the side and loose pomegranate seeds in the bottom. They look like rubies!

The Caramel Apple Martini

  • 3 oz. apple flavored vodka
  • 1 oz. butterscotch liqueur
  • 4 oz. apple juice
  • caramel cube for garnish

Combine in an ice filled shaker and shake vigorously. Place an old fashioned cube of caramel at the bottom of each martini glass and strain your libation over it. Not only will it add flavor as it melts, but when the drink is done, there’s a treat!

The Pumpkin Pie Martini

  • 3 oz. vanilla flavored vodka
  • 3 oz. Godiva white chocolate liqueur
  • 4 oz. heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • whipped cream to garnish

Spread a healthy spoon of whipped topping around on a saucer and dip the rim of your serving glass into it, akin to how you might dip a margarita glass into sugar. Shake measured ingredients together over ice and strain into the glass. This one makes a great dessert drink, served in martini glass or with extra whipped cream as a decadent shot sized serving to sip. Ta-da! Talk about a no-bake recipe!

Haute Toddy

  • 4 oz. Maker’s Mark bourbon
  • 4 whole cloves
  • enough boiling water to fill the mugs
  • ground cinnamon to taste
  • 2 lemon wedges for garnish
  • 2 whole cinnamon sticks for garnish

Pour the bourbon into two stylish mugs or Irish coffee glasses. (Tip: I love the homey size of clear glass coffee mugs and they’re easier to find at big chain discount or dollar stores!) Add 2 cloves and a little ground cinnamon to each. Fill mugs the rest of the way with boiling water, adding a wedge of lemon and a stick of cinnamon to each as garnish. Perfect accompaniment to board games after dinner!

Fig Infused Vodkafresh figs

  • 4 whole fresh black figs
  • 1 750ml bottle of your favorite vodka, resealable

Wash, then cut your figs into quarters. Add them to the bottle of vodka, close, and keep it out of sunlight for about 5 days. Every day or so, agitate the bottle. Think swirls to spread the flavor around, rather than froth-inducing martini shaker style. At the end of the 5th day, strain out the solid fig bits…and you’ve got artisanal vodka! But be warned, you’ll have to start this one early if you want to sample it at Thanksgiving! The longer the infusion, the more flavor it will have. So, no Socialite, an overnight infusion won’t do. Plan ahead!

As with the recipe for anything, play around with these and make them your own. Maybe add a special touch that’s just yours. For example, try a green tea bag in your Haute Toddy. Add a Madagascar vanilla bean to your fig infused vodka batch. What about a raspberry flavored vodka in your pomegranate martini? Also, I’ve used brands that I favor through the years – use what YOU like! The sky’s the limit for fall flavor in your glass!

So, now that that’s solved…where’s your mother-in-law sitting? Need a cocktail, Socialite? ::smirk::

Till next time, cheers!

tp_contributer_pic

Contributor | Eva Said It
Eva is a mother, writer, entertaining doyenne, and snark expert based in New York City. Money can’t buy happiness, but it buys her lots of wine and stinky cheese…which is close enough. Catch more of her stiletto clad sarcasm at www.evasaidit.com.

 

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{Living}

Fit To Be (Black) Tied

Where has summer gone? Didn’t we *just* get accustomed to easy sundresses and skin-baring glam? ::SIGH::

White House Invitation

Labor Day is upon us, but as we wave good-bye with BBQ salutes, it’s time to look ahead to autumn with excitement! Not only is September a fashion world explosion, but it’s also the start of fall “social season” in New York City! Charity dinners and auction invites and opera debuts – oh my! But…what does one wear to such events? Black tie? White tie? Cocktail attire? What’s a Budget Socialite to do?!

Not to worry – I’ve got you covered for every calligraphy laden invitation you’re about to get and ask me to attend with you. It’s not so tough afterall!

What’s it all mean?

Let’s start with some basic definitions.

  • White Tie: The most dressy and involved of the formal dress levels. You might hear it referred to as “tophat and tails” or simply, “tails”, referring to the long coat gentlemen wear that creates a…well…”tail” silhouette. Reserved for ULTRA formal occasions – think UN dinners, debutante balls, and super formal weddings. Ladies have only one option here: floor length formal gowns. Got a diamond tiara handy? This is the only time you might get away with wearing one outside your home. ::whispers:: So whip that bad boy out, sister! ***Shopping tip: Bloomingdales does an early fall clearance that is unbeatable for gowns. My favourite floor lengths silks danced their way from the sale rack to the Waldorf! Don’t miss this sale!***
  • Black-Tie: The most common formal dress code, though less intricate than White Tie. Gentlemen are required to be in tuxedos and ladies should don floor length gowns or cocktail length dresses. If you dare to do the Little Black Dress, it HAS to be your fanciest LBD ever…and I know you have one! The old stand-by won’t do here, Socialite. But…leave the tiara at home. Also, resist all urges to relive prom night: black cummerbunds on your escort are the preferred standard. (Did he choose plaid? Take your sister with you instead.)
  • Black-Tie Optional: For the gents, tuxedos are encouraged but not required, with a dark, well-tailored suit considered a perfectly acceptable alternative. You’ll see a mix of both choices on attendees. Ladies needn’t feel rooted to the floor length gown – you’ll see every length dress from floor to knee in the room. Your LBD still works, but can be less dressy, with your jewelry perhaps helping to make bold statements for you.
  • Cocktail Attire: Ladies hit their stride in this IDEAL Little Black Dress territory! It’s more fun than formal, and more sexy than stuffy, with elegance being the key. Nothing too formal or close to floor length, please. Gents, a dark suit and power tie are a MUST! Bright cufflinks all around!

FAQs

  • The invite says “Black Tie” – can’t I just wear a dressy knee length dress?
    Technically, yes. However, Black Tie is a formal occasion. You might be alone in a sea of elegant floor length gowns, so research your crowd/venue and make sure you’re choosing a formal dress, even at knee length. Still in doubt? Ask your host or someone close to the party planning. Better to ask than show up and be embarrassed.
  • A gown and a dress are the same thing basically, right?
    No! A dress may be any length, but once we hit the floor, sister you’re in a gown! A gown is always formal, whereas a dress isn’t necessarily so.  Ever hear of a “casual gown”? A “flirty sungown”? I thought not.
  • These are old rules and customs. Does anyone care if I get it wrong? I mean really – it’s 2013. Pfft.
    Yes. Yes, people DO care – namely, your host.  As an invited guest to anything, it’s important to show the simple respect of following an established dress code, if one has been requested.  Still think it’s all nonsense? There’s no shame in declining an invitation. But…why would you willingly miss all that champagne?

Obviously, fashion is subjective and people interpret the rules as they may – it’s fun to bend them sometimes! But you have to know the rules to break them. The rules of formal dress lean towards classic style over fashion. To get even MORE technical, Wiki has some great point-by-point specifics. These are a general standard, meant to help you plan as you wade through the piles and stacks of RSVP cards that I just know await us you, Socialite!

See you next month!

The season approaches – are you dressed and ready? Have some formal dress tips? Let us know in the comments! 

tp_contributer_pic

Contributor | Eva Said It
Eva is a mother, writer, entertaining doyenne, and snark expert based in New York City. Money can’t buy happiness, but it buys her lots of wine and stinky cheese…which is close enough. Catch more of her stiletto clad sarcasm at www.evasaidit.com.

 

 

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{Food & Entertaining}

The Art of the Cheese Plate

Hello Socialites! Summer dinners al-fresco, July sunsets over wine…the season is made for elegant entertaining!

When you think of elegant entertaining, is there anything more elegant, decadent, and thoroughly indulgent than a well crafted cheese plate? If you’re a cheese lover like me (see cheese platemy bio), there can’t possibly be. Always picture perfect at catered affairs, at restaurant dinners, at wine bars in bite size portions for boat sized dollars, there’s something intimidating about recreating the magic at home. Yes? NO!

Socialite, get your notepad and throw away that Velveeta. Your next cocktail/dinner event just got FANCY! We’re going to master the art of the cheese plate! And it’s easier than you think…

Selection

It’s all about the cheese! However, you don’t have to serve ten types of cheese to have an amazing cheese plate.

Easy Elegance: Select three cheeses of varied textures (soft, semi-soft, hard). My favorite go-to cheeses: herbed goat, brie, manchego or an aged cheddar. You can find them all in most supermarkets, usually in an “international cheese” or “gourmet” section.

Fancy Fab: Stop into your local gourmet shop for some Mimolette and the Roquefort of your choice. Most gourmet shops will let you sample before you commit, so definitely do some exploring! With your guestlist in mind, find flavors you like and try cheeses from multiple countries!

The Tools

Kitchen knives will NOT do for your elegant cheese plate, Socialite. You need proper cheese knives and a serving board. I’m partial to a marble serving board, but a ceramic or china tray will do the trick. For large groups, I like to cut everything before setting it out. But for smaller service, feel free to set out whole portions and allow guests to cut their own. One knife per cheese is ideal, but it’s not required.

Easy Elegance: Two knives will easily have your needs covered. For the soft cheeses, such as goat, use a spreader. For firmer cheeses, you’ll want a classic multi-tasking cheese knife, with holes in the middle of the blade (to keep cheese from sticking to it) and prongs at the end for picking up what you’ve just cut. You can find both at any chain home store for under $10: think Marshall’s, HomeGoods, and Target.
cheese knivesFancy Fab: A friend gave me this wonderful set of four knives, which includes the two types above, as well as a wide slicer and an angled knife for hard cheeses. The slicer is great for difficult cheeses like mimolette. Google it. How does one cut a cantelope shaped cheese? Verrry thinly! The angled knife lets you exert pressure needed to get through a harder cheese like manchego with ease and uniform slices.

“What’s This?”

porcelain markersLabel your cheeses. Consider adding the type of milk its made from (sheep/goat/cow) or the country of origin under the name. Take your guests around the world on a cheese plate!

Easy Elegance: Affix a label to a toothpick and place one on each cheese you serve. Place setting cards in front of your serving tray work well, too. Just use stiff cardstock paper, write your cheese name, fold it over like a tent, et voila!

Fancy Fab: These porcelain markers were a steal, on clearance, at Murray’s Cheese in Grand Central Station. The set of 6 came with a gold marker, but you can use any dry-erase marker in any shade. Wash and store carefully after each use.

Bonus Yum

Garnish your cheese plate with edible goodies that compliment your cheese selection. Forgo the corporate parsley decor and think tasty tidbits!

Easy Elegance: On the same board, add a small amount of assorted berries, a handful of almonds or walnuts, and a small portion of apricot preserves to your presentation. Not only can you find all these in the supermarket aisles, but they lend themselves to almost ANY cheese selection. Encourage your guests to experiment with the pairings.

Fancy Fab: Drop back into the gourmet shop for some fig and orange jam (my personal pick to pair with manchego!), a bar of 80+% cocoa chocolate, and some oil cured olives.

Cap the entire presentation off with a tray of assorted flavor water crackers, pita crackers and/or crusty baguette slices.

And just like that, your cheese plate is dressed to impress! Serve with your fave wine and enjoy! But don’t reserve your new skills as a cheese master JUST for entertaining. I’ve been known to make a small cheese plate as dinner. And why not? Every Budget Socialite deserves a little elegant indulgence.

Image Sources: Evasaidit.com and Jordan Johnson

But don’t stop there! Have some Master-of-the-Cheesyverse tips to share? Leave a comment below and share the knowledge!

See you next month!

tp_contributer_pic

Contributor | Eva Said It
Eva is a mother, writer, entertaining doyenne, and snark expert based in New York City. Money can’t buy happiness, but it buys her lots of wine and stinky cheese…which is close enough. Catch more of her stiletto clad sarcasm at www.evasaidit.com.

 

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