At Home and Happy (Hour)

Just because we aren’t getting together with friends and family as much in real life for the time being, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t connect. Happy hours are going strong in living rooms, backyards, and decks all around the world — online. We have some amazing cocktail recipes, décor ideas, and snacks to make your happy hour friends envious or inspired. So, let’s start shaking, stirring, sipping, and connecting, because smiling is something that we all can use more of.

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Cucumber + Jalapeño Margarita | Lemon Basil Drop | Old Fashioned | Lavender & Gin Tonic | Hummus | Tomato Fennel Jam | Finishing Touches


Cucumber + Jalapeño Margarita

Makes 3 cocktails

This spicy little margarita number is so refreshing! You’ll love the herbal hint of chartreuse liqueur, and the pretty borage herb blossom actually tastes like cucumber!

Ingredients

  • 5 ounces silver tequila
  • 1 teaspoon chopped jalapeño
  • 1½ ounces lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon agave juice
  • ¼ cup chopped cucumber
  • 1 teaspoon chopped cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon chartreuse

Method

Combine the tequila and chopped jalapeño. Chill for an hour, and strain. In a glass container, add the lime juice, agave, cucumber, cilantro, and chartreuse. Muddle well. Add the tequila, stir, and chill until ready to use. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add the margarita mixture, shake, and lightly strain into three ice-filled glasses. Garnish with thin slices of skewered cucumber, a wedge of lime, round of jalapeño, and fresh borage blossoms. Cheers!

Lemon Basil Drop

Makes 1 cocktail

Hands down, an all-time favorite cocktail. Freshly squeezed lemon juice and a hint of fresh basil make for a sunny cocktail combo.

Ingredients

  • 1½ ounces vodka
  • 1 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ½ ounce basil simple syrup

Method

Add all of the ingredients to a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake well and pour. Garnish with a slice of lemon and a sprig of fragrant fresh basil.

BASIL SIMPLE SYRUP

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 fresh basil leaves

Simmer the ingredients in a stovetop pan for 5 minutes.

Old Fashioned

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons dark brown sugar simple syrup (instructions below)
  • 2 dashes Angostura aromatic bitters
  • 2 dashes blood orange bitters
  • 2 ounces rye whiskey
  • Large slice orange peel
  • Amarena Italian black cherries in syrup
  • 1 very large, clear ice cube

Method

To make the simple syrup, combine ½ cup water and 1 cup dark brown sugar in a stovetop pan, simmer until sugar dissolves, and cool in the refrigerator.

To make the cocktail, put the first five ingredients in a bucket glass and stir. Add one large ice cube, top with a cherry, and serve.

Lavender Gin & Tonic

Muddling fragrant lavender flower heads in some good gin makes for an intoxicating twist on the classic G&T.

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces gin
  • 1 teaspoon lavender flowers
  • Juice of ½ a lime
  • Ice
  • 4 to 5 ounces Fever-Tree tonic water
  • Sprig of fresh lavender
  • Slice of lime

Method

In a cocktail shaker, muddle together the gin, lavender flowers, and lime juice. Strain mixture into an ice-filled glass, and top with tonic water, a fresh lavender sprig, and a slice of lime.

Hummus with a Twist

This delish appetizer is packed with flavor. Add make-ahead parsley pesto to store-bought hummus to make it special.

PARSLEY PESTO

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup chopped toasted walnuts
  • 2 cups fresh parsley leaves
  • Zest of ½ a lemon
  • Salt and pepper
  • ½ cup olive oil

Method

In a dry pan, toast the walnuts on the stovetop until they begin to brown. Cool.

In a food processor, pulse the parsley, lemon zest, and walnuts, and add a few grinds of salt and pepper. With the machine running, slowly add the olive oil.

Spoon the hummus into mason jars, and add a generous dollop of the toasted walnut parsley pesto. Serve with pita chips.

Rustic Bread with Tomato Fennel Jam and Lemon Ricotta

This savory jam is so good! Slather it on thick slices of rustic grilled rosemary bread. We like to add a layer of lemon ricotta spread first, then heap on the jam. Easy-peasy to take outside and chat it up with friends online!

TOMATO FENNEL JAM

  • 4 vine-ripened tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 fennel bulb, cored and sliced
  • 1 shallot, sliced
  • Olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla sugar
  • 1 teaspoon anise seed
  • 1 tablespoon chopped, sundried tomatoes
  • Salt & pepper
  • Zest of ½ orange

Method

Place the tomatoes, fennel, and shallots on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Drizzle lightly with olive oil, and sprinkle with cinnamon, sugar, anise seed, and salt and pepper. Roast at 375 degrees for 25 minutes. Scrape the roasted veggies into a stovetop pan. Add orange zest. Simmer for 15 minutes until the flavors come together. Salt and pepper to taste. Scrape mixture into a food processor, and pulse until almost smooth. Add chopped sundried tomatoes, and pulse a few times to incorporate, but leave chunky bits of tomato to bite into. Store in a jar and refrigerate.

LEMON RICOTTA

Whisk together 1 cup ricotta cheese, zest of half a lemon, and a drizzle of olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle a bit of olive oil onto thick slabs of rosemary bread. Grill on both sides. Slather on the lemon ricotta; add a second layer of tomato fennel jam. Garnish with a fennel sprig.

Finishing Touches

Keep it Simple

  • Pour a glass of your favorite wine – or two.
  • Add fresh peaches, lime, and mint to your favorite white wine for a refreshing sangria.
  • Head to a local brewery or cidery, and fill a growler. Many are offering fills to go.
  • Buy a cocktail kit. You can get everything — including the recipe — you need to make your favorite mixed drink at home from your favorite restaurant.

Make it a Mocktail

Don’t drink? No problem. Bring your favorite mocktail to the Zoom party. Dry Soda and seltzer are both great starters to a mixed “drink” minus the alcohol.


DIY Cocktail Tray

You can make your happy hour setting even more stylish by making a custom tray to hold your drinks or snacks. We created this lobster-print shadowbox cocktail tray in minutes. Make your own with a decorative paper napkin, or thick paper, and a little Mod Podge (a sticky gluelike adhesive that dries clear).

  1. I used a 12-by-12-inch white shadowbox and a lobster napkin unfolded to the same size.
  2. Remove the glass. Lightly coat one side of the glass with Mod Podge. Carefully place a single napkin layer on top of the glass, decorative side down, and smooth out any bubbles.
  3. You might want to add a paper backing to the reverse side before popping the glass back into the shadowbox. Use the same technique for the glass anchor coasters, and add a felt backing.

Don’t Forget Dessert

We’ve found that happy hours can last several hours these days — perhaps because no one has to drive. Or maybe because we just need a break from whomever we live with. Or maybe just because it’s fun. Make sure to have something to end the evening on a sweet note — and maybe consider supporting a local business. Grab dessert to go from your favorite bakery, local chocolate, or a pint from the local ice cream shop.

 

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