Simple, Casual Outdoor Soiree’s
It’s around this time of year when Canadians prepare to say goodbye to hot, humid days, relaxing cottage weekends and spontaneous backyard gatherings and hello to falling leaves, shortened days and busy routines involving work and school. But what’s the rush? With pleasant warm days and cooler evenings, late summer is actually the perfect time to socialize and maximize what’s left of the season.
So, gather your friends and family and enjoy these endless summer days. The experts at the LCBO offer simple entertaining secrets and responsible hosting tips for throwing fantastic end-of-summer get-togethers.
Make it an alfresco affair. Take advantage of the fantastic weather and set up the party outdoors.
Timing is everything. Set the start time for late afternoon so guests can enjoy the late day sun and the magic of dusk.
Set the scene. This could be the last hoorah of the season so create a relaxed theme that screams summer. If space permits, set multiple seating areas around the yard. And, don’t forget the decorations. Whether they be floral bouquets picked fresh from your garden, tiki torches, hurricane lamps with pillar candles or even citronella candles, they will add to the ambiance as the day progresses. A nice touch: have blankets or shawls on hand as the evening grows cooler.
Say cheers with entertaining-sized cocktails. Limit the drink selection to a signature cocktail or two, like The Great Canadian Caesar or Peach Sangria, as well as beer, wine and ready-to-drink selections. Prepare cocktails in advance and serve them in pitchers so guests can help themselves. A nice gesture is to leave recipe cards on the bar so guests can also try them at home. Lay out everything that they will need to help themselves, including garnishes, a bucket or cooler for beer, wine and ready-to-drink products, glassware and cocktail napkins.
Offer a mocktail. For guests who choose not to drink, create a specialty non-alcoholic offering. Mocktails can be fabulous and fun by combining fruit juices, such as cran-raspberry and lemonade, topped with soda water and garnished with fresh fruit or berries and served in a martini glass. More thirst-quenching cocktail/mocktail recipes and other inspiring entertaining ideas can be found online at www.lcbo.com.
Set up a self-serve feast. To keep the meal simple and delicious, design a menu that allows you to do most of the work in advance or has your guests contributing with their personal touches. Set out a platter of burgers, sausages and kabobs, fire up the grill, lay out all of the fixings and have your guests serve themselves. Supplement with side dishes, like prepared salads, corn on the cob and other dishes made with local, seasonal ingredients, like tomatoes, zucchini, etc. For spontaneous gatherings or unexpected drop-ins, order takeout.
Match made in heaven. In keeping with the local theme, set up a wine and cheese station that pairs Canadian artisanal cheeses with Ontario wines. Scatter nuts and grapes around the table as well so that guests can nibble throughout the day.
Life is a bowl of cherries. Dessert needn’t be fancy. Set out some fresh fruit or pre-scoop some vanilla ice cream and top it at the last minute with fresh peaches. Guaranteed — your guests will enjoy this simple pleasure.
Be a responsible host. It is your responsibility to make sure your guests arrive home safely. Have on hand water and coffee/tea for designated drivers and stop serving alcohol at least one hour before the party ends. Encourage your guests to leave their cars at home and take public transportation, taxis, or walk. And, be prepared for overnight guests.
Let the music play. Create playlists that will suit the vibe of the evening and make copies for your guests to take home as a memento.
The Great Canadian Caesar
1 ½ cups Polar Ice vodka
5 cups Clamato juice
2 tbsp Tabasco sauce
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
ground pepper to taste
lime wedges and celery stalks
Fill a pitcher with ice. Add Polar Ice vodka, Clamato juice, Tabasco sauce, Worcestershire sauce and ground pepper to pitcher. Stir. Rim 8 glasses first with a lemon slice and then with celery salt. Fill glasses with Caesar cocktail and garnish with lime wedges and celery stalks.
2 ripe peaches peeled and sliced
½ cup Peach Schnapps
½ cup Brandy
1 bottle of Barefoot Chardonnay
4 tbsp lemon juice
Combine all ingredients in a pitcher and stir. Pour into 8 glasses with ice.
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