Be ready when a spontaneous hosting opportunity pops up with these easy summer sips, apps, and entertaining hacks. Get the party started with toast-worthy cocktails by the pitcher, dispenser, and in the rind! Create do-ahead savory crostini nibbles to go with the sips, from roasted fresh fig to caramelized onion. Then offer guests a grilled corn and roasted green bean frisée salad and a quick peach and whiskey cobbler for the perfect sweet ending. Happy hour at home is the best hour.
Starry August nights are about squeezing out those last drops of summer juice and fun without a lot of fuss. Get a laid-back summer look with these simple happy hour hosting hacks!
Spectacular single blooms replace formal florals. These dreamy dinner-plate dahlias are divine and are perfect placed on simple white dishes.
Blues, greens, and whites always feel summer right. Forgo the starched linens and opt instead for a casual table, topped with a blue striped beach towel and soft Belgian flax napkins.
Fig trees are the jewels of our summer garden. Growing up, I ate fresh figs from my Grandma Nettie’s garden. Now I grow my own. You can find figs at your local summer market, too. And the leathery leaves make great cocktail coasters and place cards! Grab a gold calligraphy pen and make some.
Passion Fruit and Citrus Martini
Passion fruit vodka:
750 ml vodka
Pulp of 3 passion fruits
Add 750 ml of vodka to a large glass jar. Place the pulp of 3 passion fruits in a small square of cheese cloth, tie off with baker’s twine, and submerge the pouch in the vodka. Infuse in the fridge overnight. Remove and discard pouch when ready to use. Chill the mix until ready to use.
8 ounces passion fruit vodka
2 ounces orange juice
Juice of 1/2 a lime
2 ounces agave sweetener
Stir, pour into a dispenser, and let guests help themselves. Makes four cocktails.
Grapefruit Basil Gin and Tonic
Handful of fresh basil leaves
6 ounces gin
6 ounces freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
2 ounces freshly squeezed lime juice
4 dashes grapefruit bitters
12 ounces tonic water
Muddle the fresh basil in a pitcher with the other ingredients and mix well. Top off with tonic water and stir. Fill each glass with ice and pour. Makes four cocktails.
Watermelon Vodka Slush
Cut a personal size watermelon in half and hollow out, removing large seeds. Refrigerate the rind. Meanwhile, in a blender, add scooped out watermelon, 6 or so ice cubes, 1/4 cup of vodka, and agave sweetener to taste. Blend and pour into the chilled rinds. Garnish with a sprig of fresh mint. Pop in a straw, and slurp away!
Grilled Corn and Roasted Green Bean Salad with Honey Dijon Vinaigrette
Two cobs of corn, shucked
24 fresh green beans
Two large handfulls mixed baby greens
1 cup frisée
8 grape tomatoes, halved
Honey Dijon Vinaigrette:
1/3 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Pinch of salt and pepper
Preheat your grill to high. Lightly brush the corn with olive oil, and sprinkle with fresh parsley and chives. Add to the grill and cook on all sides from 5 to 8 minutes until some of the kernels blacken. Remove from heat, cool, and cut the kernels off the cob. Refrigerate and set aside.
Trim two dozen fresh green beans. Drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt. Roast on a baking sheet at 375 for approximately 10 minutes.
Over the greens, layer the grilled corn, roasted beans, and tomatoes. Top with dressing, toss, and serve.
On your stovetop grill, toast 16 slices of artisanal bread and mound them with easy do-ahead toppings! Roll the crostini bites together just before the guests arrive. Here are some toppings to try.
Caramelized Onion Crostini
Thinly slice two white onions, drizzle with olive oil, and add a dash of salt and pepper. Caramelize in a sauté pan low and slow until golden. Refrigerate until ready to assemble.
Herb Mushroom Crostini
Slice eight crimini mushrooms and add to a sauté pan. Drizzle with olive oil and top with two tablespoons of chopped fresh parsley and a dash of red pepper flakes. Sauté until tender. Refrigerate until ready to assemble. Top crostini with shaved fresh Parmesan, and layer on herb mushrooms.
Quickly steam 24 fresh pea pods until they just begin to soften. Shell the peas. Cool and refrigerate until ready to assemble. Slather bread with fresh ricotta, top with peas, lemon zest, fresh chives, and salt and pepper.
Make it Figgy Crostini
Halve fresh figs, and place on a baking sheet. Broil until the fig pulp bubbles. Cool and refrigerate until ready to assemble. Place thin slices of manchego cheese on the bread, and top with fig halves. Add orange zest.
See Monica Hart’s design, recipe, and entertaining ideas in every issue of 425 magazine, and at lafamigliadesignllc.com.
Hair styling by Seven the Salon Bellevue, senior stylist Chu. Ingredients from Metropolitan Market, Kirkland. Passion Fruit from Uwajimaya, Bellevue. Pineapple Drink Dispenser and napkins from Sur la Table, Kirkland. Beach towel from serenaandlily.com. Dahlias from City Flowers, Bellevue.