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Cocktails, Anyone?

Who doesn’t love a good cocktail party? It’s an excuse to get dressed up, catch up with old friends (and meet a few new ones), put one of those labored-over playlists to good use and enjoy a cocktail or two.

One of the luxuries of having this job is cocktail parties come with the territory. The difference is those mixing my drinks are experts who craft cocktails specifically for the spirit featured that evening. Even better, the passed hors d’oeuvres are oftentimes equally as inspired, designed by masterful chefs to complete the experience.

What I take pride in doing is sharing those experiences and recreating them in my own way with my friends and family who in turn can share that experience with their inner circles. And that’s the point, right? Giving consumers the knowledge and the power to become individual brand ambassadors and share their discovery stories with others.

When the at-home entertaining trend started taking off a few years ago, I took part: A four-course dinner (prepared by me) paired with red wines from around the country; sake and soju cocktails with trays of sushi (ordered); Mexican & Margarita night (assistance from Rosa Mexicano in NYC and Skinnygirl).

A ready-to-drink margarita in a bottle? My guests were skeptical. But after a taste they were believers. Flavor, low-calorie and easy to serve. Many asked: “What’s soju?” It’s a distilled spirit like vodka, but with fewer calories (and a lower ABV) that takes on the flavors it’s mixed with. In other words, good for cocktails. A few days later I got a text from a friend asking where she could purchase a bottle.

The Do-It-Yourself era that most often relates to the home improvement genre spans far beyond grouting bathroom tile or building a patio. In today’s market, consumers are hungry to learn and take ownership of their accomplishments, more so than in the past, and beverage marketing has begun to evolve around that “me” element.

At the Kentucky Derby this year, Bacardi had a make-your-own-mojito station in its hospitality tent. At a recent Grey Goose dinner party in New York City, diners were asked to create their own cocktails (mine was called the 5th Avenue Punch). SKYY Infusions Ginger, a line extension that launched last year, encouraged guests to mix their own creations to enjoy that evening in addition to those being served at the bar.

Next up on my list of themed cocktail nights is Bourbon & Bites, inspired by a recent trip to Kentucky. Bourbons are gaining popularity not only in cocktails, but in food recipes as well. Bourbon in a cocktail? Yes, bourbon in a cocktail (though I do prefer mine on the rocks).

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