Kitchen Focus

At the height of the entertaining season, you are probably hosting more than one dinner and maybe even a cocktail party or two. Instead of the traditional bottle or two of wine, try your hand at some mixed drinks. They are festive and do wonders to dress up mixed nuts, some sliced cheese and fruit. Suddenly, a few appetizers and snacks become a full blown cocktail party!

When planning a cocktail party, you will want to have at least three different types of appetizers and probably no more than six. As for your drinks, you will want to include a red and white wine and about three different drinks you will mix on hand. I like to have one premixed punch or the like and then shake maybe a couple specialty drinks.

In recent years, martinis have gotten very popular. I like to have a nice selection of fruit juices and liquors on hand to make a drink special. Sliced fruit can also add color and interest to a drink. If you want to get really fancy, colored and flavored sugars for rimming glasses add an extra special touch.

Have plenty of ice on hand for shaking and for otherwise keeping your beverages cold. Placing a frozen piece of fruit in a glass can help keep your drink cool without diluting your drink as well.

Below are a couple recipes for simple drinks I've put together for friends and family when entertaining. These are mixed with vodka. Do not buy the most expensive vodka you can find for mixing these fruity drinks. Most experts agree that few people can taste subtle differences in it ... especially when mixed with strong fruit flavors.

Apple Pie Martini

  • 3 ounces of Absolut Vanil vodka
  • 1 ounce of Brandy
  • 1 teaspoon of dry Vermouth
  • 2 thin slivers of green apple
  • 1 chunk of green apple

Add the liquid ingredients to a shaker 3/4 full of cracked ice. Shake vigorously for a full minute.

Rub the apple chunk around the inside of 2 chilled martini glasses. Strain your martini cocktail into the glasses and top each with an apple sliver.

  • Yields: 2 drinks
  • Preparation Time: 3 minutes

Cranberry Martini

  • 2 ounces of Absolut vodka
  • 1 ounce Godiva liqueur
  • 1 ounce cranberry juice
  • 1 teaspoon cranberry sauce
  • 1/2 ounce of chilled Champagne

Add all ingredients (except the Champagne) into a shaker 1/2 full of cracked ice.

Let stand for a full minute.

Shake for a full minute. Strain into 2 chilled martini glasses. Top each glass with 1/2 of the Champagne.

  • Yields: 2 drinks
  • Preparation Time: 3 minutes
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