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Archive for Entertaining

TIP OF THE DAY: Bloody Mary Drink Bar & Snacks Bar

Here’s how we’d customize a spicy Bloody
Mary. Photo courtesy Arch Rock Fish
Restaurant | San Diego.


This has been a week of food bar suggestions for entertaining:

  • Breakfast/Brunch Food Bars
  • Lunch/Dinner Food Bars
  • Dessert Food Bars
    Today we conclude with two ideas for a drinks bar and accompanying snacks.


    You have to think twice about a “mix your own” cocktail bar. Guests tend to over-pour, using too much liquor with resulting tipsiness, mess and expense. You have to “limit the exposure.”

    Instead, pre-mix the drinks in three versions: regular, spicy and virgin. Pre-rim the glasses with seasoned salt (see photo). The guests get to customize their garnishes. The most versatile cocktail to do this with is the Bloody Mary.


    Garnish with:

  • Pickled Vegetables: cocktail onions, cucumber pickles, dilly beans, gherkins, peppadew, pepperoncini, pickled asparagus, pickled carrots.
  • Vegetables: celery, cherry tomatoes, cucumber slices, fennel, green onion, snap peas.
  • More: bacon, cilantro, lemon/lime wedges, olives, parsley, shrimp.
  • Provide condiments for those who want to amp up the cracked pepper, horseradish, hot sauce and/or Worcestershire sauce.

    A lemonade bar can appeal to kids and adults—especially when adults have the opportunity to add a shot to their drinks. In contrast to our earlier advice about letting people “mix their own,” this is a controlled situation where, at the end of the bar, people can add an optional shot. (Be sure to provide shot glasses for portion control.)

    Lemonade isn’t just for summer: Lemons are plentiful year-round, and lemonade fits in wherever cold drinks are served.

    Provide pitchers of both sweetened and unsweetened lemonade, so those who prefer noncaloric or low-glycemic sweeteners can sweeten their own.

    Or, you can make all of the lemonade unsweetened, and provide different syrups (with pumps!): simple syrup and two fruit-flavored syrups.


  • Fruit Juice: pomegranate juice; blueberry, peach, raspberry or strawberry purée.
  • Heat: Cayenne pepper and/or fresh ginger slices.
  • Herbs & Spices: basil, ginger, lavender, mint, rosemary, thyme.
  • Iced Tea: for an Arnold Palmer, regular and passion fruit tea.
  • Spirits: gin, tequila and/or vodka; Limoncello.
  • Sweeteners: agave, honey, non-caloric sweetener, simple syrup.
  • Garnishes: berries, cherries, lemon wheel, mint leaves, watermelon cubes.
    Don’t forget the ice!

    While lemonade is more versatile for customizing, an iced tea bar can work just as well. Provide pitchers of brewed, unsweetened black, green, herbal and flavored iced teas with your choice of fixings from the Lemonade Bar menu, above.


    Customized peach lemonade. Photo courtesy

    Yes, do include lemonade for those Arnold Palmers!

    How about some snacks with those drinks?

    Create a customize-your-own-snack bar.

  • Candy Bar: This is a make-your-own party favor concept. You supply candy bags or boxes and guests fill it with their favorites. This is a nice way to end an event, too, by letting guests create their own party favor. Miniatures are perfect for this concept: individually wrapped, they keep things neat.
  • Popcorn Bar: Provide plain corn, cheese corn and kettle corn with savory and sweet mix-ins. Consider candy corn, Chex, chili flakes or cayenne, crumbled bacon, dill, chocolate chips, flavored oils (chili, garlic, truffle), grated Parmesan, gummies, jalapeño chips, M&Ms, mini marshmallows, mini peanut butter cups, mini pretzels, peanuts, pumpkin seeds, raisins/Craisins, Reese’s Pieces, shredded Cheddar, etc.
  • Trail Mix Bar: Provide sandwich bags or snack bags so people can blend their own, from a selection of raisins and other dried fruits, nuts, sunflower or pumpkin seeds, pretzel or sesame sticks, candy (chocolate chips, M&Ms, Reese’s Pieces and seasonal choices like candy corn or jelly beans), breakfast cereals (Cheerios, Fruit Loops). Check out our full list of trail mix ingredients.
    Now: Pick a date and start pulling together the guest list.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Food Bar Part 3: Desserts

    A simple creation from a s’mores bar.
    Photo courtesy Tastefully Simple.


    Over the last two days, we’ve covered breakfast food bars and lunch/dinner food bars.

    Today: ideas for dessert food bars. We conclude tomorrow with snacks and drinks.


  • Cake Bar: Angel cake, bundts, cheesecake, or loaf cakes (easiest to slice—carrot cake, chocolate cake, pound cake) with dessert sauces (caramel sauce, fudge sauce, strawberry sauce), whipped cream and garnishes (berries, crushed oreos, nuts).
  • Caramel Apple Bar: see our separate article.
  • Cookie Bar: Offer large or small cookies (chocolate, oatmeal, sugar, etc.) with fillings and frosting, plus garnishes (candies, chocolate chips, chopped nuts, sprinkles)
  • Cupcake Bar: Set out frosted cupcakes, or have a frost-your-own option with different frostings. Garnishes: banana chips, berries, candied bacon, candies (chocolate curls, crushed toffee, mini chips, seasonal candy), edible flowers.

  • Pie Bar: A selection of pies—apple, berry, chocolate cream, custard, pumpkin, e.g.) with dessert sauces (caramel sauce, custard sauce), whipped cream and garnishes (crystallized ginger, fresh fruit).
  • S’mores Bar: Regular and chocolate-covered graham crackers, regular and flavored marshmallows, different chocolate (bittersweet, milk, white, flavored—like chipotle chocolate), marshmallow creme (here are more ideas for a s’mores party).
  • Sorbet Bar: A lighter way to go after a heavy main meal, sorbet is cholesterol-free, lactose free and vegan. Offer different flavors with berries, coconut chips, crushed pineapple, diced melon, fruit sauce (puréed berries, mango, etc.), gummies, granola, pistachios or slivered almonds.
  • Sundae Bar/Banana Split Bar: Different flavors of ice cream with your choices of everything above!
    Are you ready to throw a party? Follow up a lunch or dinner food bar with a dessert food bar, or simply do one. Either way, it will be memorable.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Food Bars Part 2 ~ Lunch & Dinner

    Fully loaded from the hot dog bar. Photo
    courtesy Dietz & Watson.


    Yesterday we looked at food bars for breakfast and brunch. Today, it’s lunch and dinner.


  • Burger Bar: beef, turkey and veggie burgers with bacon, cheese (blue, cheddar, havarti, jack, swiss), condiments (barbecue sauce, ketchup, mayonnaise), grilled pineapple, guacamole, jalapeños, lettuce, salsa, sautéed/caramelized onions, sautéed mushrooms, sliced raw onion, tomato.
  • Chili Bar: bean chili and meat chili plus avocado slices, black olives, chopped green onions, cheeses (cheddar, jack, queso fresco), cilantro, corn chips, diced tomatoes, jalapeños, salsa, sour cream.
  • Hero Sandwich or Panini Bar: a selection of meats and cheeses with all the fixings: giardinera plus your choice of all the other ingredients in this article.
  • Hot Dog Bar: hot dogs, brautwurst and sausage (include non-beef, non-pork choices) plus assorted buns and rolls, bacon, baked beans, blue cheese, caramelized/grilled onions, chili, cole slaw, condiments (ketchup, mayonnaise, mustard choices, olives, pickles, relish, corn relish, salsa), jalapeños, raw vegetables (cucumber, diced tomato, onions, shredded lettuce), shredded cheeses.
  • Falafel & Gyro Bar: babaganoush (eggplant spread), couscous, falafel balls, lamb, lettuce, onions, pita bread, tomatoes, olives, tzatziki (yogurt-cucumber sauce—recipe).
  • Mac & Cheese Bar: one or two mac and cheese recipes with different cheeses and pasta shapes, plus lots of toppings: caramelized onions, sautéed mushrooms, seafood (crab, shrimp, scallops and lobster if you’re in the chips), fresh herbs, heat (chili flakes, diced jalapeños), toasted bread crumbs.
  • Nacho Bar: tortilla chips plus black olives, chili sauce, chopped fresh chiles (jalapeño and a milder option, such as banana peppers), cilantro, diced tomatoes, guacamole, hot sauce queso sauce (regular and jalapeño), refried beans, salsa (different types), shredded lettuce, sliced green onions, sour cream.
  • Pasta Bar: different pasta shapes and at least three sauces (cream-based, olive oil-based, tomato-based), grated cheese, meat and vegetable toppings.
  • Pizza Bar: basic red and white pizzas plus most of the toppings listed in the rest of this article.
  • Potato Bar: baked, fries, mashed and/or sweet potatoes with chives; same fixings as the Mac & Cheese Bar.
  • Risotto Bar: plain risotto with all sorts of mix-ins like asparagus (or seasonal vegetables), bacon, caramelized onions, cheese, cheeses (crumbled blue and/or goat cheese, grated or shaved parmesan), chives and other fresh herbs, ham/prosciutto, seafood (crab, lobster, scallops, shrimp).
  • Salad Bar: The original food bar concept; expand the ingredients to allow for the creation of chef salads, Cobb salads and spinach salads.
  • Soup Bar: Best in the winter with hearty soups like vegetable, potato or tomato, with garnishes of bacon bits, beans grated cheese, green onions, meats (diced chicken, sausage slices, shrimp), rice and/or other grains and sour cream/Greek yogurt.
  • Taco/Burrito Bar: beef, chicken, fish plus chopped tomatoes, cilantro, grated cheese, guacamole, olives, onions, salsa, tortilla chips, refried beans.
    Coming tomorrow: dessert bars.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Food Bars, Part 1 ~ Breakfast & Brunch

    Fashion your party bar along the lines of
    hotel breakfast buffets. Photo courtesy


    While summer entertaining is easy—cocktails on the patio, burgers on the grill—the fall brings a challenge. How can you entertain with panache, without killing yourself?

    We’ve grown fond of the food bar, a buffet that invites guests to “create-your-own-dish” with a particular type of food. Caterers call them food stations.

    Whether for breakfast/brunch, lunch/dinner, dessert or snacks, a food bar is festive, fun and memorable. Guests can customize dishes to their hearts’ content, and thrill in the discovery of new favorite combinations.

    It can also accommodate food allergies, vegan diets and other preferences, and feeds a large group easily.

    We start today with breakfast/brunch food bars, with more meals to follow.



  • Breakfast Sandwich Bar: biscuits, English muffins, eggs, bacon, sausage, cheese and a myriad of toppings, from barbecue sauce to salsa
  • Cereal Bar: cold cereals, granola, fruits, different sweeteners (brown sugar, honey flakes, maple sugar), different milks (almond, cow, soy, flavored and unflavored), toppings (fruits, nuts, chocolate chips)
  • Cocoa Bar: dark, milk and white chocolate cocoas; spicy cocoa; flavorings (banana, mint, orange, raspberry); toppings (marshmallows, marshmallow creme, whipped cream), garnishes (chocolate or other flavored chips, cinnamon, nutmeg, sprinkles, shaved chocolate/chocolate curls)
  • Coffee Bar: different beans and roasts, flavored syrups, different milks and garnishes
  • Egg Bar: omelets or scrambled eggs with sides of grated cheeses, chili, marinara sauce, chopped fresh herbs
  • Oatmeal Bar: oatmeal and cream of wheat, and the Cereal Bar extras
  • Pancake and/or Waffle Bar: regular, multigrain and chocolate pancakes, syrups and sauces, different fruits and garnishes (chocolate chips, mini marshmallows)
  • Tea Bar: Different teas (try less common varieties including herbal infusions, so people can experiment), sweeteners and milks (don’t forget lemon slices)
  • Yogurt Bar: Plain Greek and vanilla yogurt with lots of toppings, from fruits and nuts to honey and maple syrup
    Have more to add? Let us know!



    TIP OF THE DAY: Have An Oktoberfest Party

    On Saturday, as we were enjoying a cup of coffee on a bench at an entrance to Central Park, a stream of people in dirndl skirts and lederhosen passed by us, en route to an Oktoberfest celebration.

    That, and the arrival of a sample bottle of Samuel Adams Oktoberfest beer, reminded us that it’s that time of year.

    Oktoberfest is an annual 16-day beer festival held since 1810 in Munich, Germany, the heart of Bavaria. While it’s called Oktoberfest (German for October feast), the event begins in late September and ends in early October.

    It is said to be the world’s largest fair, with more than 6 million people drinking more than 7 million liters of beer.

    Oktoberfest-style beer is traditionally the first beer of the brewing season in Germany: the Beaujolais Nouveau of Germany, as it were. It’s a Märzen-style beer: a lager that is amber in color, smooth and malty and about 6% or higher ABV.


    A glass of Samuel Adams Oktoberfest beer.
    Photo courtesy


    To be labeled Oktoberfest beer in Germany, a beer must conform to the Reinheitsgebot (the German beer purity law), which dictates a minimum of 6% alcohol (by comparison, America’s Budweiser has 5%). The beer must also be brewed within the city limits of Munich.

    Märzen gets its name from the last month in which the beer was traditionally brewed. Before refrigeration, March was the last month that beers could be “lagered,” or put in cold storage. The beers would then age during the summer, to be enjoyed by fall harvest.


    Brats and German potato salad: classic
    Oktoberfest fare. Photo by Rudi Sills | IST.



    Other cities around the world hold their own Oktoberfests, and you can do your own on a small scale: Gather the beer and the refreshments and call your beer-loving friends.

    Oktoberfest beer is typically enjoyed with a variety of traditional German foods. Märzen’s rich roasted malt character pairs perfectly with traditional brats and roasted meats. The roasty malts also complement and mellow the sweetness of desserts with similar flavors, like the caramel richness of crème brûlée, a caramel sundae or blondies (not Oktoberfest traditions).

    Here’s our guide to food parings and for throwing an Oktoberfest party.

    Each Oktoberfest season, Samuel Adams hosts a National Stein Hoisting Competition at thousands of bars, eateries and festivals nationwide.


    The two hoisters who hold their steins up the longest—one male and one female—will be crowned the Samuel Adams National Stein Hoisting Champions and win a trip for two to Oktoberfest 2014 in Munich, Germany.

    Stein hoisting events will be hosted at Oktoberfest celebrations in Boston, Chicago, Cincinnati, Denver, Miami, Nashville, Washington, D.C., among other places, from now through October 20. Visit for full event listings.

    Check out the different types of beer in our Beer Glossary.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Martini With A Side Of Olives

    Our friend Ron and his daughter Stephanie like to order their Martinis with extra olives. The restaurant generally delivers the side of olives in a shot glass.

    Joining them in this tradition inspired today’s two-part tip:

  • Use your liqueur glasses or shot glasses to serve extra olives to your Martini-loving friends.
  • Serve a variety of olives and let guests decide which they prefer with their Martinis.
    When a pitted, pimento-stuffed olive was first used to garnish a Martini, the olive selection was far less than it is today.

    Today, artisan producers offer more than a dozen stuffed olive options:

  • Cheese:* blue, cheddar, feta, smoked gouda
  • Fish & Meat: anchovy, chorizo, salmon, tuna
  • Fruit & Vegetables: garlic, lemon peel, onion, orange peel, pimiento
  • Heat: habanero, jalapeño
  • Nuts: almonds

    Martini with a side of olives. Photo courtesy Ruth’s Chris Steak House.

    Check out the stuffed olives from Mezzetta, and browse for other stuffed olive options.

    Then, start mixing. The classic Martini proportion is is 1 part London dry gin to .25 part dry vermouth. Shake with ice and strain into a Martini glass. Don’t have Martini glasses? Try a small wine goblet.
    *We’ve had some pretty disappointing cheese-stuffed olives: The cubes of cheese have been rubbery and almost tasteless. If you have that experience, look for Divina and Mezzetta brands.


    The classic Martini olive is stuffed with
    pimento. Photo by Kyle May | Wikimedia.



    While the drink may date back to Gold Rush-era San Francisco, in 1850, a claim is made by the city of Martinez, California, northwest of San Francisco.

    The claim is that the Martinez—the predecessor of the Martini—was created there, by a bartender named Julio Richelieu. The recipe called for gin and sweet vermouth instead of dry vermouth, plus bitters and an olive. A recipe for the Martinez was first published in 1867, in “The Bartenders Guide.”

    A 1907 cocktail recipe book, “The World’s Drinks and How to Mix Them,” is the first printed reference we have for a Dry Martini Cocktail. Made with gin and dry French vermouth, served with lemon peel and an olive. It credits a bartender 375 miles south of Martinez, in Los Angeles.

    Here’s more on the history of the Martini—including James Bond and the Martini.




    TIP OF THE DAY: Marinated Cheese

    One of our particular passions is fresh goat cheese. Whenever we put together a cheese plate, we always include one or more chèvres.

    But for people who don’t like chèvre and want something more unusual than a plate of cheeses, here’s a good-looking option for buffets and parties. This recipe uses cheddar and cream cheese, but you can use any block cheese (which is easy to slice into uniform pieces). We used a flavored cheddar from Cabot Creamery, which makes traditional cheddars and reduced-fat cheddars, plus flavored varieties in Chipotle, Garlic & Herb, Horseradish, Hand-Rubbed Tuscan, Hot Buffalo Wing, Hot Habanero, Smoky Bacon and Tomato Basil.

    This recipe is from Comfort And Joy Food of Zeigler, Illinois. Comfort And Joy Food ships frozen cobblers, casseroles pot pies and other top-quality comfort food anywhere in the continental United States. The recipe was adapted from a recipe originally in Southern Living magazine. It can be prepared a day in advance.


    Party perfect: two different marinated cheeses. Photo courtesy

    The marinade creates a bright garnish on the bites of cheese.



  • 1/2 cup quality olive oil
  • 1/2 cup white wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 3 tablespoons minced green onions
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 jar (2 ounces) diced pimiento, drained
  • 1 block (8 ounces) sharp cheddar cheese, chilled
  • 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, chilled (slightly frozen is better)

  • Optional garnish: chiffonade of basil, parsley sprigs
  • Crackers and/or toasts (we especially like to make “croutons,” toasted baguette slices—you can spread them with a bit of garlic butter for even more flavor)

    Festive food for any season. Photo courtesy



    1. PREPARE the marinade by combining the first 12 ingredients in a tightly covered jar; vigorously shake and set aside.

    2. CUT the block of cheddar in half lengthwise, then cut crosswise into 1/4 inch slices (basically little squares). Do the same with the cream cheese. The chef used a special butter slicing tool that works just as well to slice cheese (and costs just $5.00). It’s a real time saver. Otherwise, a knife is fine.

    3. STAND the cheese slices on edge in a shallow dish, alternating the cheeses. Shake the marinade and pour it over the cheese. Cover, refrigerate, and allow to marinate for at least 8 hours.

    4. GARNISH with a chiffonade of basil and parsley sprigs, if you like. It’s so pretty with all the chopped herbs and pimientos there really is no need to garnish, in my opinion. Serve with crackers or toasts.


    For more photos of the process, check out


    Use the marinade on a log of goat cheese, sliced feta or mozzarella or other fresh cheese.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Cream Cheese Balls At Brunch

    “Now shmear this!” says Hannah Kaminsky, one of our favorite food writer/photographers, about today’s tip: gourmet cream cheese balls.

    Hannah focuses on vegan cooking and baking, but everyone will find her recipes to be simply delicious. They’re a boon for people who are kosher, lactose-intolerant or simply cutting back on cholesterol. The recipe below can be made as conventional or vegan fare.

    Considering how to use a new brand of cream cheese*, Hannah decided to add “a bit more of a savory spin to things.” Her individual-size, gourmet cream cheese balls look almost too pretty to eat.

    She serves them at parties, with toast or crackers. We served them with bagels, elevating the familiar to the sophisticated.

    You can serve more than one “flavor” of cream cheese balls—perhaps a spicy option if your guests like heat, or a cutting edge blend if they like nouvelle flavors.


    Cream cheese balls are festive fare. Photo © Hannah Kaminsky | Bittersweet Blog.

    Convenience alert: You can make the cream cheese balls in advance and freeze them. You can also make one large ball for the center of a party tray.



  • Cream cheese
  • Garnishes: fresh chives, lemon zest, chopped nuts†
    Don’t hold back on garnish ingredients; check around to see what you have at hand:

  • Bacon bits, coconut, dried cranberries‡, honey-roasted peanuts, toasted sesame seeds or roasted garlic, for example.
  • You can even try cheese-on-cheese, with finely crumbled blue cheese or fresh-grated Parmesan.
  • You can also spice things up, with chili flakes, curry, paprika or wasabi powder.
    *Hannah used Galaxy Food’s vegan cream cheese.
    †Hannah used pine nuts. Use your favorite: almonds, pecans, pistachios, walnuts, etc.
    ‡Tip: We find it easier to use a scissors rather than a knife to cut small dried fruits.


    1. MINCE and combine the garnishes.

    2. ROLL the cream cheese balls into 1- or 1-1/2 inch diameter (what looks right to you). You can use wood butter paddles or your hands (you can use plastic kitchen gloves). If the cream cheese warms and starts to lose its shape, stick it in the fridge or freezer until it hardens enough to be smoothed into a round ball.

    3. ROLL the cream cheese balls in the mix to coat.

    4. SERVE on a bright colored plate or on a bed of greens, as in the photo.

    Check out Hannah’s Bittersweet Blog and sign up for the feed. You’ll enjoy every morsel.



    TIP OF THE DAY: A Retro Cocktail Party

    Cranberry Mojitos, Dirty Martinis, Frozen Mango Margaritas…none of these cocktails existed when your parents (for Baby Boomers and Gen X) or grandparents (for everyone else) had their first cocktails. None would be featured on “Mad Men.”

    How many people do you know who have even had a Daiquiri, Old Fashioned or Tom Collins? A retro cocktail party may be just the thing to introduce them to tippling in the good old days.

    So banish the Cosmopolitans for an evening, and turn back the clock with a menu of five classic cocktails. These famous oldies date to the 1800s:

    1. Daiquiri: Ernest Hemingway’s favorite cocktail combines rum, lime juice and simple syrup, shaken and served neat.

    2. Dry Martini: This combination of gin and dry vermouth is garnished with an olive or lemon twist garnish. The less vermouth, the drier the Martini. People who wanted to drink straight gin could ask for just a splash of it. It’s the only cocktail in this group that isn’t sweet. From early times, people used sugar to mitigate the hard edge of the alcohol.


    The Manhattan was created in the 1870s by a New York bartender whose name is lost to history. Photo courtesy Ruth’s Chris Steak House.


    3. Manhattan: This classic whiskey cocktail, dating to the 1870s, is made with bourbon or rye and sweet vermouth, served in a rocks glass and garnished with a maraschino cherry. A gin-based version is the Martinez, another oldie made with sweet vermouth, bitters and the cherry. That recipe was first published in 1887, attributed to a bar in Martinez, California.

    4. Old Fashioned: Bourbon based and served in a rocks glass, sugar, bitters and an orange slice are muddled in the glass; ice and bourbon are then added. The term originated with late 19th century bar patrons, to distinguish cocktails made the “old-fashioned” way from newer, more complex cocktails.

    5. Tom Collins: A tall drink of dry gin, lemon juice, sugar syrup and soda water, garnished with a maraschino cherry and a lemon slice. The recipe was first published in 1876. There was no particular Tom Collins for whom it was named; rather, “Tom Collins” was an everyman name referenced in conversation, along the lines of John Smith and John Doe.

    Bonus option:

    6. Mint Julep: Not just for Kentucky Derby parties, this tall glass of muddled mint and sugar syrup, crushed ice and bourbon deserves attention year-round. It originated in the South in the 1800. A julep is generally defined “as a sweet drink, particularly one used as a vehicle for medicine.”*
    *Source: Wikipedia. It should be noted that before it became a leisure drink, spirits were developed for, and used as, medicine.


    A Tom Collins. Photo courtesy Bombay
    Sapphire Gin.



  • Cheese sticks or cheese wafers
  • Celery stuffed with pimiento cream cheese
  • Cheese ball or cheese log, coated with toasted nuts and served with crackers
  • Deviled eggs
  • Endive leaves stuffed with crab salad
  • Hot crab dip, served with crackers or toast points
  • Mixed salted nuts
  • Rumaki: chicken liver and water chestnut wrapped in bacon
  • Stuffed mushrooms
  • Swedish meatballs
  • Pigs in blankets
  • Relish tray: carrot sticks, celery sticks, olives, radishes, sweet gherkins
  • Stuffed dates: with cream cheese or an almond (bacon wrap optional)


    Cocktails as we know them today have existed since the early 1800s. A reader wrote to “The Balance and Columbian Repository,” a newspaper in Hudson, New York, asking “What is a cocktail?” The reply, published in the May 13, 1806: “Cock-tail is a stimulating liquor, composed of spirits of any kind, sugar, water, and bitters—it is vulgarly called bittered sling….”

    The first published bartenders’ guide with cocktail recipes was “How to Mix Drinks; or, The Bon Vivant’s Companion,” by “Professor” Jerry Thomas, in 1862. In addition to recipes for “cocktails,” there cobblers, flips, punches, shrubs, slings, and toddies. Bitters was the key ingredient that differentiated cocktail recipes.

    Bitters are combinations of herbs, fruits, spices and/or roots, distilled in a base liquor. As with spirits, they began as medicinal tonics. Classic cocktails with bitters include the Manhattan, Negroni, Old Fashioned, Pisco Sour, Rob Roy, Rum Swizzle, Sazerac and Singapore Sling. The recent renaissance in artisan bitters has led to more of their use in new creations.

    The leading claim to the first cocktail party goes to Mrs. Julius S. Walsh Jr. of St. Louis, Missouri. In May 1917, she invited 50 guests to her home at noon on a Sunday. The cocktail reception lasted an hour, and lunch was served at 1 p.m.

    While the record is mum on the subject, the cocktail event may have followed the Sunday church service.† Now there’s an idea ready for revival: church followed by cocktails with friends.

    †Since 1924, the Walsh mansion has been the residence of the archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. Louis.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Gourmet Hot Dog Recipes For Labor Day

    A hot dog Boston-style, topped with baked
    beans, crumbled bacon and chopped red
    onion. Photo courtesy Applegate.


    If you didn’t whip up some gourmet hot dogs on July 23rd, National Hot Dog Day, Labor Day Weekend is another opportunity to strut your hot dog stuff.

    In case you’re thinking chili cheese dogs, corn dogs and pizza dogs, take a look at these gourmet hot dog recipes. Below are more examples created by chefs across the country. Now, you’re ready to turn hot dogs to haute dogs.

  • Downward Dog, Japanese Style Hot Dogs. At The Corner Office in Denver, there’s a Japanese spin: Downward Dogs, two hot dogs with Japanese mustard, kewpie mayo, sweet soy sauce, nori and cucumber tsukemono (Japanese pickles sliced thin and marinated in rice wine vinegar, mirin, sugar, and salt for two days). The dogs are served in a split-top bun with a side of butter fries (tossed in clarified butter and salt). Kewpie mayo is a Japanese brand, a smoother, creamer mayonnaise made with rice vinegar rather than distilled white vinegar. You can buy it online.

  • Coney Island Style Hot Dogs or Coney Dogs. They’re not from New York’s famed Coney Island: This style of hot dog originated in Michigan in the early 20th century at Todoroff’s Original Coney Island. The original dog was topped with an all-meat (beanless chili), chopped white onions and stripes of yellow mustard. A special coney sauce evolved at hot dog stands that combined ground beef, onion, ketchup, mustard, celery seed, Worcestershire sauce and other seasonings. Here’s a coney sauce recipe. Toasted Oak in Novi, Michigan, an American brasserie, serves them with a twist: mini dogs topped with venison (instead of beef) coney sauce.
  • Southwestern Style Hot Dogs. Kachina Southwestern Grill in suburban Denver makes a Sonoran Dog, named after the state in the northwetern corner of Mexico. The restaurant pays homage to this culinary melting pot with a Kobe beef hot dog topped with applewood bacon, cowboy beans, pico de gallo, crumbled cotija cheese and smoked tomato aïoli, wrapped in house-made bolillo, a long, crusty roll with a baguette-like texture.

  • Poutine Dog, Breakfast Dog. There are two special dogs at Portland’s The Original Dinerant (a cross between a diner and a restaurant). Poutine Dog adds a hot dog to the classic Canadian dish. The dog is topped with warm cheese curds, crispy French fries and veal gravy. Or try a Breakfast Dog instead of sausage and eggs. It’s a grilled hot dog topped with a sunny-side-up egg, and wrapped in a bun that’s been French toast-battered and fried bun. The condiments: a drizzle of maple syrup and powdered sugar, of course.
    These recipes are from our chef friend Ken:

  • BLT Dogs. Shredded lettuce, bacon, mayonnaise, diced tomatoes.
  • Peking Dogs. The dog is topped with the fixings of Peking Duck—julienne cucumbers, chopped scallions and hoisin sauce—and wrapped in a crepe.

    A San Francisco-style hot dog: healthy salad fixings on your frank. Photo courtesy Applegate.

  • Taco Dogs. Wrap halved hot dogs in grilled tortillas, topped with taco condiments (shredded cheese and lettuce, diced tomatoes, salsa, guacamole, etc.).

    Just provide some special ingredients in addition to the traditional hot dog condiments.

  • Traditional hot dog condiments: barbecue sauce, chili, cheese (shredded), ketchup, mustard, onions, pickles, pickle relish, sauerkraut.
  • Special hot dog condiments: bruschetta and fresh basil leaves, caramelized onions, cilantro, crumbled blue cheese, corn relish, jalapeños (raw and/or pickled), fruit salsa (mango, peach, pineapple), Onion Crunch.


    According to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council, an estimated seven billion hot dogs are eaten by Americans between Memorial Day and Labor Day. And every year, Americans eat an average of 60 hot dogs each!

  • Miller Park in Milwaukee is the only Major League ball park in which sausages outsell hot dogs. We recently featured “The Beast,” their “turducken” of hot dogs.
  • Ball park hot dog vendors need to be strong. A fully loaded bin weights approximately 40 pounds, and vendors typically walk 4 to 5 miles per game, up and down steps. They work on tips and commission.
  • “Nobody, I mean nobody, puts ketchup on a hot dog” is a phrase less famous than “Go ahead, make my day.” But Clint Eastwood’s Dirty Harry said them both (the former in “Sudden Impact”).
  • Glamour queen Marlene Deitrich’s preferred meal was hot dogs and Champagne.
  • Visitors can purchase hot dogs at the Vatican Snack Bar.
    Want more trivia? Take our hot dog trivia quiz.



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