Wine and cheese parties are becoming more popular, but a recent blog post at cocktails.about.com asks, why not have a spirit tasting party? It’s a good idea: There are myriad spirit brands and flavors you could easily use for a neat tasting party.
Here are some easy party tips. Find a comprehensive list at cocktails.about.com
First, invite an intimate group -- no more than 10 at the most because you want the focus to be on “tasting,” not a “party.” When you’re using spirits, you know someone’s going to eventually start suggesting body shots if you don’t keep an eye on them.
Second, choose your spirits by type of liquor – vodka, tequila, scotch, etc. This way you can pick something familiar, something slightly inexpensive and one super nice brand.
Third, decide if you want a blind tasting or a brand tasting – i.e., do you want people to be surprised by what brand they have, or do you want to provide notes on specific brands and see if your party agrees with the reviews? Hint: If you do a blind tasting, use small carafes or cover the bottles with a towel. Tearing labels off the bottles is a waste of your valuable time and looks tacky.
Fourth, make sure your guests have paper and pen to take interesting notes about the spirits they taste. After several samples, it’ll be easier to remember what the first one was like if it’s written down.
Fifth, pour them one at a time. This keeps the process going and also keeps guests from skipping ahead. Also, the point of the tasting is to do fun dorky things like swirl it around in the glass and pretend to analyze things like “opacity” and “legs” and “thickness.” But it’s also fun to inhale the aroma. When’s the last time you really took a good, long sniff of your tequila? That’s what I thought.
Sixth, even though some people might be squeamish, make sure you all take time to hold the spirit in your mouth for a while to get the full taste. It might burn a bit, but that just means it’s extra good. Play a game and see how long the heat and flavor stays in your throat. Seriously -- write it down.
Seventh, make sure there is plenty of water for “cleansing the palate” or just stifling the gag reflex if you’re not a scotch fan.
Eighth, depending on what spirit you choose, make sure to get some appropriate and tasty mixers for afterward. There will most likely be plenty left for cocktails while everyone discusses their favorites and their notes.
Ninth, make sure to have some munchies. Crackers and cheese work, as do olives or nuts. Have something for people to eat, or you might end up with the kind of party that people talk about by using the phrase “there was an incident.”
And quickly, here are some fun suggestions for summer cocktails, just in case we get a few more sunny days or you want to host a party in the next few weeks. Enjoy!
Sunny and Bubbly
1 part lemonade vodka or citrus vodka (UV lemonade works)
3 parts champagne
Shake with ice and strain into a martini glass.
1 part lemonade vodka or citrus vodka (again, UV lemonade is where I got the recipes, so that will probably work well)
12-oz. Domestic light beer
Serve over ice in a pint glass. Mmmm.