Saturday, December 3, 2011

Stocking your Christmas Party

With the snow falling and December officially here, I'm thinking less like the Grinch every day!

Christmas Parties are a great time to let loose with friends and families. Office Christmas parties are typically uncomfortable at best, at least until the egg nog takes effect! So just exactly what do you provide at the bar for your Christmas party to provide a festive selection without breaking Santa's budget?

I have a few must haves. While Egg Nog is certainly NOT one of my favorite holiday drinks, it is on the must have list. I always keep a bottle of Evan Williams nog on hand and in the ice. I prefer to drink it cut about 3:1 with milk to thin it down a little, but some folks will like it just fine over ice.

Beer is easy. There is a veritable cornucopia of holiday beers available to liven up your holiday event.
I keep my selection hoppy with Sierra Nevada Celebration ale. This seasonally available IPA is always a treat that I look forward to. Most people will enjoy this beer at a party even if they are not typically craft beer drinkers.

Celebration is an ale EVERYONE can enjoy!
I use parties as an opportunity to open people's minds to craft beer. I have seen people that are died in the blue Bud Lite can fans convert in one evening. Mental blocks are usually more to blame than flavor when it comes to craft beer. People get it stuck in their head that they do not like "Dark" or "Heavy" beers... Whatever that means, and they simply refuse to like a craft beer. After a few stiff Christmas drinks, I offer a bottle of Celebration (Against my better judgement) without a glass. Drinking from the bottle mutes the hop aroma and the previous drinks tend to mute the bitterness and guess what? A beer with holiday scenes on the bottle tastes pretty damn refreshing.  That person will leave your party with good memories of that beer and will almost certainly try it again, but more importantly, they will be more likely to try other craft beer when the opportunity presents itself.

I like to mix up the selection with Avery Old Jubilation, Great Divide Hibernation and Odell Isolation. You don't really need a lot of any, just a nice mix. Supply more of the less costly brews and spike the ice tank with just a few of the more costly. I always throw in a box or two of the Full Sail Session Lager because it's cost effective and most people like it just as well as any other brew you could provide.

If you are not providing wine (I use a box of Franzia White Zin and Merlot) you could consider a fruity sour ale for the wine drinkers. It's pretty expensive for parties, but again, it gets people talking. Every year we buy a case or two of Lindeman's that will not come out until the following year because I simply like it better with a year of age on it.

As I have said, you cannot live on beer alone, so we need cocktails right? RIGHT!

The names on the bottle change, but the format does not!
First... RUM! I keep three rums on my bar for the holidays. I keep a bottle of spiced rum, an aged rum, and a bottle of white rum, all better quality than bottom shelf, but none that are high dollar. Right now, the lineup is The Kraken ($21-1.75L), Cruzan aged ($23-1.75L) and Margaritaville White ($9-750ml). The Margaritaville is a coconut rum, so it is fun to play with and it keeps people trying new things, although it presents some challenges. If someone asks for a daiquiri, I just make it with the Cruzan. They mostly don't ever notice.

I like to keep some Bourbon on hand, usually a bottle of Jack Daniels for mixing and either Makers Mark or Knob Creek for those that want something over ice.

Svedka Vodka does a fine job for the vodka and tonic as well as the very rare request for a vodka martini. A small bottle of gin goes a long way at these events, but it's nice to have if someone is interested.

This is a pretty big list, and it'll feed a lot of people but it certainly isn't comprehensive, and really not an extreme list by my standards. But the great part is that you don't need to go to any sort of extreme for a Christmas Party! To hell with any sort of pretentious expectations, just let loose and have a fun... Make sure that the company is good, the music is low, the drinks are strong and have a good time.

Just make sure that when you decide to copy your ass your name written in your underwear isn't showing!


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