Happy Hour at Home

Thursday, May 14, 2015
On Friday afternoons when the clock strikes 5 o'clock, I imagine I look a lot like Fred Flintstone sliding down a dinosaur's tail at quitting time. Nothing excites me more than the promise of a summer weekend ahead, and that weekend usually starts with happy hour.

However, here at the Jersey shore, the bars become mob scenes on Friday evenings. Nothing puts a damper on my spirits faster than an overcrowded bar with overpriced drinks and over zealous twenty-somethings jockeying for a space at the bar to order the next round. No thanks. I'll pass.

I've managed to do a good job of re-creating happy hour at home, complete with yummy drinks, tasty food, and good music. At my happy hours, you wont fight the crowds for a spot at the bar, and you certainly won't encounter a long wait for the women's restroom!

It's really very simple once you have the key components for a great happy hour at home.

1. Start with a signature cocktail
Whether it's a happy hour or a party I am hosting, I mix up a signature cocktail for my guests to enjoy. It cuts down on chaos in the kitchen and you avoid having to mix customized drinks for guests. Whether you mix a pitcher of gin and tonics, margaritas, sangria, or Champagne cocktails, choose one universally appealing drink for your guests.

2. Serve cocktails with conversation napkins
Allow your cocktail napkins to serve as conversation pieces. When I use the napkins shown in the collage above, I ask my guests what their favorite drink is and how it came to be. There are so many great stories behind my friends' favorite drinks!

3. Use appropriate stemware and glassware
There's no need to buy expensive crystal, but it is important to have the appropriate glasses for serving drinks. You don't want to serve Champagne cocktails in tumbler glasses, for example.

4. Serve light bites
Serve a few carefully selected hors d'oeuvres that pair well with the signature cocktail. For added fun, offer guests fun plates for their fun food. Serve the light fare on serving platters and trays.

5. Set the mood
Place flowers in the center of the table and lanterns throughout your entertaining area for ambience.

And don't forget the most important components of happy hour at home: kick back, relax, and enjoy!

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