We're in full-on summer mode here at Ajna Living (hooray!), which means you don't need a better reason to celebrate with some delicious craft cocktails in our own backyard. As you may know, we love to entertain, but are always looking for ideas for how to make hosting just a little bit easier so that we can spend more QT with our friends. We recently sat down with Tobin of Hella Cocktail Co. who shared with us his cocktail inspirations and a great idea for serving cocktails to a crowd. Enjoy!
What do you love about mixed drinks? (vs. beer or wine for example)
Tobin: Cocktails and mixed drinks are interactive - they offer a level of creativity and versatility that wine and beer generally lack. There's also something festive about a good cocktail, that makes it perfect when imbibing with a group of your favorite people. Now, don't get me wrong I love beer and wine and there are many great occasions for both but sometimes an occasion just begs for a cocktail (or three) instead.
It's summer (yay!) What kind of cocktail do you start craving once summer has officially begun?
Tobin: Summer for me is all about low alcohol, easy drinking highballs and spritzes - I want to drink something that will be super refreshing and that I can have a few of without getting into trouble (and by trouble I mean plastered). Highballs and spritzes are easy to make, and highly customizable, so if you're hosting you can just put out an assortment of ingredients, bar tools, and maybe one pre-conceived recipe and people mix up their own drinks.
Alright, let's say I'm hosting an outdoor dinner and want to provide cocktails, but don't want to spend the whole evening in the kitchen - what sort of cocktail can I make for a small crowd that's easy and delicious?
Tobin: My favorite way to serve drinks at a party is by setting up a spritz / highball station. You'll need a few bottles of apertif liquors and vermouth, plenty of sparkling water, I like plain, lemon or grapefruit Le Croix, a few bottles of bitters, a couple cocktail syrups, like Hella Hibiscus, or a homemade greenmarket syrup like rhubarb. Plenty of lime and lemon wedges, fresh mint and cucumbers for garnish. Set everything up around a bar station with a couple jiggers and barspoons. Pre-ordain a recipe or two so people have a roadmap and then let them experiment on their own. This is also great because there are tons of delicious non-alcoholic options too, so kids and people not drinking don't miss out on the fun.
For the station:
- Sweet Vermouth
- Bonal Gentian, a wonderful bitter french apertif
- Lillet Blanc
- Hella Cocktail Co Tonic Syrup
- Hella Cocktail Co Moscow Mule Mix
- Hella Cocktail Co Hibiscus Syrup
- Hella Bitters, Assorted Flavors
- Plenty of bubbly water, i.e. Le Croix
- Lemons, Sliced into wedges
- Limes, Sliced into wedges
- Navel Oranges
- English Cucumber, sliced for garnish
- Fresh Mint, For garnish
- Rhubarb or seasonal tart syrup
- Bowl with plenty of ice and serving spoon
Basic Recipe -
1 oz Bonal Gentian (or Sweet Vermouth)
1 oz Aperol
3 Dashes Hella Citrus Bitters
2 Lemon Wedges, squeezed into the glass
Topped with Club Soda
In a highball glass add ice and squeeze two lemon wedges in. Add Bonal, Aperol, Bitters and top with club soda. Stir gently.
Thank you so much for these amazing ideas Tobin! We totally agree; there are so many ways to get creative with cocktails (or mocktails), it really can be so much fun. Our parties this summer will be much more inspired now!