As summer draws to a close, we bid adieu to barbecues and picnics and start looking ahead to indoor parties. (Let's be honest; once we pass Labor Day, we're basically just waiting for Christmas.) Any experienced bartender or devoted "Mad Men" binger knows that the best get-togethers are as formulaic as a good cocktail: one part fascinating individuals, one part elegance and one part sparkling conversation.
For those of us who don't quite have the palate of Don Draper, we look for drinks that are, well, tasty. While old-fashioneds and Manhattans are requisite for any proper cocktail party, anything that appeals to the younger crowd will definitely need to be a little more gustatorily pleasing.
If you're throwing a cocktail party on a budget, never fear! The two components you're spending money on are decor (plates, napkins, decorations) and the food and drinks themselves. You can still throw a darling vintage cocktail party on a shoestring budget. A dress code establishes a formal tone that will set this classy affair apart from your usual debauched shenanigans. Even if your friends initially complain, they'll be grateful later when they see how many adorable photo opportunities you created.
With these fabulous drinks, you can still bring a bit of sunshine to any gathering.
*Gin and Tonic
The G and T is a classic. If you're looking to revamp an established cocktail party favorite, consider adding fruit (crushed berries), a citrus garnish and the smallest splash of grenadine. The berries add the perfect amount of sweetness to a drink that's a favorite for a reason.
Oxford and Cambridge are divided into residential colleges, and in true British fashion, each college has its own pub. Oxford's Jesus College's pub offers a particularly potent student favorite. Known as the Jesus drink, its Oxford-approved recipe has yet to be released, but careful experimentation has shown that the Oxonian favorite may be re-created on this side of the pond.
--1 shot of vodka
--3/4 shot of green apple schnapps
--1 bottle of Angry Orchard cider
--1 splash of grenadine
Excited for the holidays? Craving a little magic? Consider updating your grandma's Hot Buttered Rum recipe. Autumn Clemons of Design Dazzle shares her favorite adult butterbeer recipe, an updated wizard-approved take on the old holiday classic.
2 liter cream soda
2 tablespoons butter extract
2 teaspoons rum extract
Drop the extracts into the 2-liter bottle, put on cap, slowly rotate until combined
1 7-ounce container of marshmallow creme
1 cup whipping cream
1 teaspoon rum extract
Add all items together in an electric mixer and combine until smooth.
What happens when you put two of the most delicious words in the English language together? Pure goodness.
The milkshake gained prominence mid-century as the staple of any hop. Today, unfortunately, we don't often consume them while wearing roller skates, but we can use them to bring a vintage vibe to any party. Tip: Buy thick red-and-white striped straws. You'll save your friends' lipstick while maintaining the aesthetic.
--2 scoops of vanilla ice cream
--Fruit or syrup of your choosing
--Blend and top with whipped cream
*Bobby Flay's Mint Julep
Derby Day has passed, but every day is mint julep day. Bobby Flay's mint julep recipe is particularly delicious and will definitely bring that much-needed southern charm to any party.
5 fresh mint leaves, plus a few mint sprigs, for garnish
1 teaspoon sugar
2 1/2 ounces bourbon whiskey
Lemon slice for garnish
Orange slice for garnish
Maraschino cherry for garnish
Place mint leaves, sugar and a splash of water into a silver julep cup or a 12-ounce Tom Collins glass. Muddle the mint, sugar and water together with the tip of the handle of a wooden spoon. Fill the glass with shaved ice, add the bourbon and stir until combined. Garnish with a lemon or orange slice, a cherry, and a few sprigs of fresh mint.
When in doubt, remember Bette Davis: "There comes a time in every woman's life when the only thing that helps is a glass of Champagne."