Once a Month Cooking for the Bar
Don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing wrong with casseroles. They’ve been a major part of our “retire early” strategy. On the other hand, there’s nothing wrong with enjoying a drink or two with friends on a regular basis either. And if you can save money on your bar bill at the same time, that’s a good thing, right? Whether you want to get a jump on things for a major bash you’re getting ready to throw, or you just want to have something to offer those occasional unexpected guests when they drop by, the following ideas will get you headed in the right direction.
First, slush. No, I’m not talking about the obnoxious dirty stuff that builds up on the roads in the winter. I’m talking about a type of frozen beverage recipe you can make in bulk and store in your freezer for party time or gracious entertaining on the fly.
I first started researching these this summer when I remembered a recipe a friend’s Mom used to make with vodka, crushed pineapple, cherries and juice. She made it every holiday season and kept it in the deep freezer in a five gallon bucket. (Don’t worry apartment dwellers, smaller batches are OK too.)When I went online to see if I could find it, I found there were tons of slush recipes out there for practically every taste you could think of. Who knew? Here’s a quick and cheap one we use for unexpected summer visitors.
Gin and Lemonade Slush: 1 750-ml bottle of gin, 2 small 12-oz tubes of frozen lemonade concentrate, 1 2-litre bottle of plain or citrus flavored seltzer water, filtered tap water.
To make the slush, combine each tube of concentrate with half a tube of filtered tap water in an airtight freezer container. Then, add a liberal amount of gin. I’ve added up to a whole bottle before. But if you decide to go that route, know that the amount of time it takes the mixture to get slushy will increase proportionately with the amount of alcohol you add. Put the mixture in the freezer and wait until it becomes partially frozen. (If you get tired of waiting, experiment with adding small amounts of water. It should set at least overnight, though.)Scoop out with an ice cream server or large spoon into the desired size beverage glass. Thin out with chilled seltzer water.
You can make this beverage as strong or as weak as you like. If you’re not crazy about gin in general, you might want to try a brand called G’vine. It has a much lighter flavor than the other brands I’ve tried, and I’m someone who has had to really work at “acquiring a taste” for gin. There are lots of great freezer slush recipes out there. Margarita flavored, whiskey and tea flavored, you name it. If you know of a good one, please post it so the rest of us can try it out!
Prefer a bar idea for the upcoming fall and winter season? I wouldn’t let you down. My recommendation? Hot buttered rum. Basically, you mix up a combination of butter, sugars, spices and other ingredients and store in an airtight freezer-safe container. This beverage is served hot and is a bit different from the slush drinks in that you don’t mix in the alcohol ahead of time. There are many different combinations out there for this as well. Here’s one based on a recipe I got years ago at a swap I hosted. I modified where I could for calories, but with 2 pounds of sugar required, it’s still pretty rich.
Extra Decadent Hot Buttered Rum:
1 pound of powdered confectioner’s sugar, 1 pound of brown sugar, 1 pound of light butter, a half gallon of light vanilla ice cream, 2 tsp of cinnamon, 1 tsp nutmeg and a good supply of spiced rum.
Cream all ingredients except for rum together until very well blended. Store in the freezer until ready to use. This will last for quite some time. When ready to serve, put some water on to boil. In each cup, put two tablespoons of the mixture and 1-2 shots of rum. (Personally, I prefer two, or at least one and a half. The mixture, in my opinion, is sweet enough to handle that much alcohol. Try it with one shot first though, and see what you think.) Pour boiling water over the top and give each cup a light stir. Drink while still fairly hot but not boiling, of course. If desired, you could top with whipped cream and some extra nutmeg. This is really a nice beverage to serve in cold weather and lets you pull off gracious entertaining on a moment’s notice.
Hopefully, this article will help you get your bar menu set for the season. I’d love to hear any other ideas from you, the readers. If you have a mind to, post away!
Related Reading: Wine Pairings for Any Menu