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Happy Hour at Home

Perfecting new skills while the stay-at-home order is in place? Might as well throw bartender in the mix!

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Tanya Saul | April 16, 2020
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Staying at home doesn’t mean you have to give up on your favorite drinks. Here are some easy, few-ingredient cocktail concoctions that you can sip on your own at home or over a virtual happy hour with friends.

Home Happy Hour Mimosa

Mimosa

Ah, yes. The traditional drink of choice that elevates any brunch. All you need for this one is some bubbles and orange juice. I’m sure there’s a particular ratio of champagne to orange juice for this one, but whether your mimosa is just a splash of bubbles into a full glass of OJ or an eyedropper of OJ into your glass of champagne, it’s still a mimosa to me. I won’t tell anyone.

If you’ve got the time and bought the goods, why not treat yourself to a mimosa flight? Create the pastel brunch rainbow of your dreams with 3 or 4 different flavors (preferably in smaller portions, but hey – no judgment here). Try some bubbly mixed with grapefruit, pineapple, cranberry, guava, or any number of different types of juices and find your new favorite! And, if a peach is on your next grocery list, puree that peach, add a little sugar, top if off with champagne, and you’ve got yourself a Bellini.

Home Happy Hour Espresso Martini

Espresso Martini

Craving a smooth and sweet cocktail with an extra jolt of caffeine? Traditionally, an espresso martini is made by pouring 1oz vodka, 1oz coffee liqueur (like Kahlua), and a double shot of espresso into a shaker, shaking, and straining into a martini glass, then topping it off with a few coffee beans for pizzazz. Personally, I like to add another ½ to 1oz of Baileys into the mix.

The lazy-person’s way: If you’re like me, lacking in an espresso machine, a shaker, or even a martini glass, pour some Baileys and Kahlua straight into a cup of coffee. Yep, just eyeball those – ‘to taste’, as they say. This tastes great iced, too. Just make sure you make a stronger coffee so that the ice doesn’t dilute it too much when it melts. (A French press works well for a strong 1-person coffee.)

Home Happy Hour Sangria

Sangria

You’ve got wine, and you’ve got fruit. Marry these two together and from this beautiful union a sangria was born. Almost. Traditionally, a red sangria has the following ingredients: red wine, brandy, sugar, orange juice, and fruit like apples and oranges. But it still works if you skip the brandy, it just ends up missing a little depth. White wine, similarly, usually has a variation of the following: white wine, vodka or white rum, triple sec or Cointreau, sugar, and a variety of fruits like peaches and oranges, grapes or strawberries, etc. Sometimes it’s even topped off with a bit of sparkling water and finished off with a slice of lemon or lime. But desperate times call for desperate measures. In my opinion, if you soak your fruit in a pitcher of wine and add a touch of sugar, you’ve got sangria.

Pro tip: Make your sangria the night before so that the fruit releases its fruitiness into the wine. Or is it so that the fruit becomes an alcoholic fruit salad when you’re done drinking the wine? I never remember which one.

Home Happy Hour Grapefruit Margarita

Grapefruit Margarita

Lazy or not, margaritas on the rocks are super easy to make. But why not switch it up with a new flavor like this delicious grapefruit margarita? If you like a salted rim, take a wet paper towel and squeeze around the rim of a glass so that it is wet but not dripping. Pour a little salt in the shape of a circle about the size of the glass rim onto a plate and dip the rim of the glass into the salt. Don’t like salt? Skip this step. Fill the glass with ice and pour 1 shot of tequila, followed by ½ or 1 shot of Cointreau or triple sec (depending on how sweet you like it.) Many bartenders also add a sugar syrup or use a premade margarita mix, but I find those far too sweet. Feel free to adjust for taste. Fill your glass with grapefruit juice, give it a good stir, and voila! You have a tasty grapefruit margarita. If you’re feeling fancy and happen to have a lime on hand, slice up a lime and squeeze a wedge into the drink. You can take another wedge and put it on the rim of your glass for good looks, or if you’re like me, just throw the wedge you squeezed into your glass for a little greenery.

Home Happy Hour Pina Colada

Pina Colada

Pineapple juice. Coconut cream. White and/or dark rum. Ice cubes. Blender. BOOM. Pina colada. There’s really not much more I can say about this besides throwing all of that into a blender and watching the magic happen – except maybe throw a tiny drink umbrella on it and call it a party. No blender? No problem. This works on the rocks, too. Theoretically you’d put about 1-2 shots of rum in with 2oz coconut cream, 4oz pineapple juice, and enough ice to blend frothy, but whatever ratio makes taste like the Bahamas to you is all that matters here.

Home Happy Hour Old Fahioned

Old Fashioned

Ok, all you people who are looking for something with a little more of a punch. I hear you. Old fashioneds can be made in a variety of ways, but here is one traditional recipe. Put a few drops of bitters onto a sugar cube in a short glass. Add a teaspoon of water and muddle. Add 2oz of rye or bourbon and stir until dissolved. Add a few ice cubes and stir until slightly melted. Then you can peel off that thick slice of orange peel, wrap it around itself to get that nice curl, and even take a lighter to the edge of it to release some of the oils (please be careful!). Some bartenders top this off with a maraschino cherry.

But if you’re lacking in the jarred cherries department and don’t wish to risk having to explain to the nice fireman that there was an orange peel incident, just do the bourbon, sugar cube, bitters, ice, and freshly sliced peel. Or skip the peel altogether. Or just pour the bourbon straight into a glass and call it a day. We’ll call it the “new old-fashioned way” as mentioned in that catchy Christmas tune.

Home Happy Hour Bloody Mary

Bloody Mary

Does a Bloody Mary top the list of the brunchiest of all drinks? If not, it’s certainly a strong contender. Quoted as being the best hangover cure, Bloody Marys are made a million different ways thanks to all these hipster bars. It seems like nowadays the garnish can top the price of the actual alcohol in the drink. I’ve seen monstrous mish-moshes of celery stabbed with olives and pickles for the more traditional take, a bacon-wrapped shrimp, and even an entire beef slider sitting on the rim of the glass. I mean just look at that thing.

A traditional Bloody Mary is made with salting the rim of a glass as mentioned in the margarita, filling the glass with ice, adding 1 shot of vodka, sprinkling salt and pepper, adding a dash of Worchestershire sauce, another dash (or 2 or 10) of Tabasco or other hot sauce, topping up with tomato juice, and giving it a good stir. Adjust the spiciness level to taste. Then add your celery stalk and toothpicked olives.

We all know that even if you’ve never planted a garden before, you did this year! (Be honest.) So why not make use of that garden and go nuts with the hipster garnish of your dreams. Slice up that cucumber, stab those cherry tomatoes, put a few snap peas on there for good measure, stuff a radish in for some depth, and round it off with a nice big chunk of broccoli. Got some kale? Of course you do! Adds a nice ruffle-y touch.



Whatever your drink of choice is, it’s not hard to recreate some of your favorite cocktails at home. And if you’re hosting a happy hour with friends, don’t forget to download some fun Zoom backgrounds. Pina colada in Hawaii? Sure! Margarita in space? Why not! Cheers to everyone and I hope whatever your happy hour looks like it makes you…well, happy. Now, is it 5 o’clock yet?

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