If you’ve picked up this book, I think you’ll agree with me that cocktails are lovely. But over the many years that I’ve spent writing about drinks, I’ve learned that more than anything, it’s really the cocktail hour that matters. When you get a drink in someone’s hand and fill your own glass, you’ve arrived at a crucial, beautiful moment. You’ve set aside your work; your miles-long to-do list is on mute. There may be snacks, dinner will be served somewhere down the line, but for now, you can pause for a sip and a breath; it’s a time to catch up.
But as anyone who has hosted a cocktail hour knows, there’s nothing worse than scrambling at the last minute, trying to mix drinks as your guests walk through the door. It’s hard to hold a conversation while searching for lost bitters, knocking over the jigger on the counter, and rattling a shaker full of ice (let alone trying to get the damn thing open). And without fail, just when you’re finally about to sit down, your friends are ready for a second round.
This is why I’ve gathered together recipes of make-ahead drinks created by some of my favorite bartenders around the country: to set up that moment of calm. With this book in hand, you can make a bunch of cocktails all at once, in advance, and serve them without breaking a sweat. Most of these recipes yield eight or ten servings, but it’s easy to scale up or down depending on how many people you’re expecting. I’ll share the techniques and proportions you need to make cocktails that are every bit as delicious as what you’d find in a fancy bar—drinks that are way more sophisticated than the spiked lemonades and sherbet punches of your past, yet totally easy to execute.
I hope you’ll use these recipes as an excuse to invite friends over,
even if your house is messy, even if you don’t have enough chairs. Don’t fret over serving a perfect multicourse meal—order pizza. The drinks are made. They’re ready to pour. You’re not rushing around fussing and jiggering and shaking, being the frenzied “perfect” host. There’s nowhere else you need to be but with your people, sharing a glass or two.
Maybe reclaiming a relaxing cocktail hour won’t save the world, but looking away from our phones for a minute to reconnect with actual human beings over a drink may very well save us from isolation.
Copyright © 2019 by Maggie Hoffman. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.