Tasty Drinks For Cocktail Time

The Early Show, summer cocktail, drinks, WATERMELON COOLER - Vodka CBS/The Early Show

Although summer is drawing to a close, it's not too late to throw a cocktail party for a group of friends. Party planning expert Colin Cowie's summer cocktail party can be done whether it's planned in advance or thrown together at the last minute.

Cowie believes one should never have to spend time away from guests; by preparing party elements ahead, the host should always be able to enjoy the party as a guest. He visits The Early Show on Tuesday to demonstrate how it's done.

At a cocktail party, the drinks are an important element - you don't just want to serve boring wine or martinis You also want to think about the base of the drinks you serve - for example, you don't want to serve all rum-based drinks, or all vodka-based drinks. In summer, you should always offer fun, fruity alternatives, as well as a non-alcoholic option, too. The recipe for watermelon cooler, below, can be non-alcoholic.

Cowie will also have a spread of different dips and salsas on hand. Several of them are home-made and several are store-bought. Rather than just putting the dips on a table, Cowie suggests serving them together in a large zinc tub filled with ice to keep them chilled. The assorted flatbreads to used with the dips can be served in a large terra cotta bowl that will be placed in the center of the tub. It's a simple idea, but a different set-up.

Here are Cowie's most important five elements for a successful cocktail party:
  • Great drinks
  • Great food
  • Great music
  • Fabulous ambiance
  • Guests who show up on time, dressed elegantly , and with interesting stories to tell

The following are his recipes:

WATERMELON COOLER - Vodka
Serves 6

5 pounds seedless watermelon (about 1/2 medium size watermelon)
16 ounces lemonade, homemade or high quality
12 ounces vodka
Watermelon balls for garnish

  1. Cut the watermelon flesh into chunks and working in batches, puree in a blender until liquefied. Strain through a fine sieve to remove the pulp - you should have about 4 cups of juice.

  2. Combine the watermelon juice, lemonade and alcohol in a 2-quart pitcher.

  3. Pour into a tall glass filled with ice and garnish with a melon wedge. Without the alcohol this makes a great children's drink.

COCONUT MARGARITA – Tequila
Serves 2

1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice, plus 2 tablespoons for glasses (about 5 limes)
3/4 cup Coco Lopez or cream coconut
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons tequila
1/4 cup Cointreau or other orange liqueur

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss coconut with salt. Spread on sheet and toast in oven stirring frequently until golden brown - 8 -10 minutes. Let cool then crush with your hands until crumbly.

  2. Pour 2 tablespoons lime juice in a shallow dish. Place coconut mixture in another dish. Dip rims of two cocktail glasses in lime juice, then in coconut mixture, coating well

  3. Combine remaining ingredients with 1 cup ice in a blender and puree until smooth. Divide evenly between prepared glasses and serve immediately.

MANGO AND STRAWBERRY DACQUIRI – Rum

2 ripe mangoes, peeled and seeded
5 strawberries, cleaned and hulled
1 cup of dark or light rum
1 1/2 cups of ice
1 lime juice

  1. In a blender, combine all ingredients with ice.

  2. Blend until smooth and serve immediately.

  3. Garnish with a cube of mango and strawberry on a toothpick.

PIMM'S CUP
Serves 1

1 1/2 oz of Pimm's No. 1
3 ounces of fresh lemonade
Club soda or sweet soda
English cucumber spear, for garnish
Apple slice for garnish

  • Combine all ingredients in a highball glass and garnish with the English cucumber and apple.

RUM PINEAPPLE PUNCH
Makes 6 servings

1 very large ripe pineapple, peeled cored and cut into 2-inch pieces
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/4 cups gold rum
1/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 cups 1-inch cubes of peeled fresh pineapple
3 cups ice cubes

  1. Combine first 5 ingredients in a large pitcher, using a potato masher, mash several times. Cover and chill overnight.

  2. Strain the mixture through coarse sieve over large bowl. Transfer pineapple solids to processor, coarsely chop using on/off turns.

  3. Strain chopped pineapple through sieve over same bowl, pressing on solids with spatula to release as much liquid as possible (discard pineapple solids in sieve).

  4. Pour strained pineapple punch back into pitcher. Can be made 6 hours ahead, kept covered and chilled.

  5. Mix 2 cups pineapple into punch, then mix in ice and serve.

BABA GHANOUSH

Makes about 2 cups, 10 servings
2 large eggplants
1/3 cup tahini (sesame seed paste)
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 to 3 cloves garlic, crushed
Salt and pepper
1 to 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Paprika
6 small pita breads cut in wedges

  1. Preheat the broiler.

  2. Using a sharp knife, pierce the eggplants in several places. Set them on a baking sheet and run under the broiler until the eggplants are soft and the skin is charred, turning frequently.

  3. Transfer the eggplants to a colander and set aside to drain until they are cool.

  4. When the eggplants are cool enough to handle, remove all of the skin and, using your hands, squeeze as much of the liquid from them as possible. Cut the eggplant into chunks.

  5. In a blender or food processor, combine the tahini, lemon juice and garlic. Add the eggplant and process until the mixture until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

  6. Transfer the baba ghanoush to a serving bowl. Drizzle the olive oil over the top and sprinkle with the paprika. Serve with warm pita bread.

NOTE: Baba ghanoush can be made 1 day ahead. Store in the refrigerator.

HUMMUS
Makes about 2 cups, 10 servings

One 15 1/2-ounce can chick peas, drained
1 cup tahini (sesame seed paste)
1/2 cup cold water
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 to 3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Salt and pepper
1 to 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Additional chopped parlsey
6 small pita breads cut in wedges

  1. In a blender or food processor, combine the chick peas, tahini, lemon juice, garlic, parsley and cumin. Process until the mixture is smooth, adding more water if a thinner consistency is desired. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

  2. To serve, transfer the hummus to a bowl and drizzle with the olive oil and then sprinkle with the parsley. Serve with warm pita bread.

NOTE: Hummus can be made 1 day ahead. Store in the refrigerator.

SHRIMP SALSA
Makes 6-8 servings

3/4 lb. red and/or yellow tomatoes, seeded and diced (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup diced red onion
2 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 small Serrano chile, seeded and minced
1 1/2 lb. large shrimp, peeled, de-veined and cooked
Salt and pepper to taste

  1. In medium bowl combine first seven ingredients; let sit 1 hour at room temperature.

  2. Cut shrimp into quarters. Add to bowl and season with salt and
    pepper.

SPICE-DUSTED TOASTED PEANUTS
Makes 8 servings

1 teaspoon coriander powder
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound raw peanuts, shelled
2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
10 to 12 whole dried small red chili peppers, for garnish (optional)

  1. Mix the coriander, cumin, and cayenne together in a small bowl. Set aside.

  2. Place the olive oil in a sauté pan over medium-high heat, add the peanuts, and toast them, stirring continually, until they are lightly browned, about 4 to 5 minutes.

  3. Dust the peanuts with the spices and toast for another 2 to 3 minutes. Season the peanuts to taste with salt and pepper and then spread out to cool on a bed of paper towel. Once cool, place in a bowl and serve. (For an added color accent, you might garnish them with some beautiful little dried red chili peppers)

  • Tatiana Morales

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