Going for a chic, lounge-like night in? A cocktail party pairing specialty drinks with sophisticated hors d'oeuvres may be the way to aim.
To get started, make sure you have plenty of ice and twice as many glasses as the number of people, says Jason Day, director of restaurant operation for Sugar Dining Den and Social Club in Carle Place.
WHAT TO BUY To prepare cocktails, head to your local liquor store and purchase a jigger, says Elias Gomez, Sugar's mixologist. These bartending tools come in different sizes by the ounce, just like measuring cups.
Line all sheet pans with foil for the baked appetizers, Day says. It makes the cleanup simpler. In addition to ingredients for the recipes below, add peanuts and pretzels to your shopping list.
HOW TO SERVE Gomez is adamant that cocktails be made to order.
Use a 12-ounce martini shaker to prepare one or two drinks at a time. To avoid watering down drinks, "make sure when you're making the drinks, you wash the shaker after you make every single drink and get fresh ice cubes," Gomez says.
COCKTAIL PAIRING Mango Tango cocktail and Kobe beef sliders
3 ounces of mango-infused vodka
1/2 ounce mango schnapps
2 ounces mango nectar
1 ounce 7UP
1 maraschino cherry
1 orange wedge
Put 8 ice cubes into a 12-ounce martini shaker. Add the vodka, mango schnapps, mango nectar and 7Up. Shake well for 1 minute, pour into a martini glass. Garnish with a fresh orange wedge and maraschino cherry.
TASTE "It's a very tropical, fruity martini. Very refreshing," Gomez says. "It's not a strong drink . . . it will sneak up on you a little bit."
KOBE BEEF SLIDERS
1 1/2 pounds ground Kobe beef (or ground beef with at least 20 percent fat)
Pinch of salt and pepper
Olive oil, for searing sliders
20 mini burger buns
1/4 cup Thousand Island dressing
10 sweet gherkins, halved crosswise
1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil. Combine ground beef with salt and pepper and shape into 20 balls.
2. Film a large griddle with olive oil and place over medium-high heat. Sear sliders so they are golden-brown on both sides, about 1 minute on each side. Transfer sliders to sheet pan and bake 5 to 10 minutes, depending on degree of doneness preferred.
3. Remove from oven and let rest for 2 minutes. Place patties inside hamburger buns and top each with 1/2 teaspoon of Thousand Island dressing and half a gherkin. Makes 20 sliders.
WHY THEY WORK "The sweetness of the sweet gherkins and the mango tango complement one another," Day says.
COCKTAIL PAIRING The Christmas Drink and chicken satay
THE CHRISTMAS DRINK
Honey, for drizzling
Green sugar crystals, for garnish
3 ounces cherry-infused vodka
2 ounces Godiva white chocolate liqueur
1/2 ounce white crème de cacao
Whipped cream, for topping
Red sugar crystals, for garnish
1. Drizzle honey on one plate. Sprinkle green crystals liberally on another plate.
2. Turn the rim of the martini glass around on the plate with honey so there is a thin coating, then turn the glass rim around on the plate with green crystals.
3. Put 8 ice cubes into a 12-ounce martini shaker. Add the vodka, white chocolate liqueur and crème de cacao to the shaker. Shake well for 1 minute. Pour into a martini glass.
4. Cover the entire drink with a liberal amount of whipped cream. Then sprinkle red sugar crystals on top.
TASTE "It tastes like cherry chocolate milk. With the whipped cream, it gives you a creamy, sweet chocolate taste. Like a little candy in your mouth," Gomez says.
1 cup satay sauce (available in the specialty aisle of supermarkets)
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1 1/2 pounds of chicken breasts, sliced lengthwise into 1/2-inch-wide, 4-inch-long pieces
20 (10-inch) bamboo skewers
Olive oil, for searing
Salad greens, for serving
1. Whisk together satay sauce, peanut butter, sugar and soy sauce in a mixing bowl. Place the chicken strips in the bowl and make sure they are well coated. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate to marinate for three hours.
2. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil. Thread one chicken strip per skewer. Film a large griddle with olive oil and place over medium-high heat. Working in batches, sear each of the chicken skewers for 1minute on each side. Place seared skewers on lined baking sheet and bake for 21/2 minutes; turn skewers over and bake another 21/2 minutes.
3. Place skewers on a bed of greens, and serve with dipping sauce. Makes 20 servings.
CHICKEN SATAY DIPPING SAUCE
1 (8-ounce) can unsweetened coconut milk
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup Satay sauce
Combine all ingredients.
WHY THEY WORK "The cherry vodka and the Godiva white chocolate liqueur complement the peanut butter and the satay," Day says. You have a cherry and peanut butter taste. "It actually works very well together," Day says. "It's the same concept as a basic peanut butter and jelly sandwich."
COCKTAIL PAIRING Sugar's signature Peach Fuzz and scallops wrapped in bacon
2 ounces of chilled iced tea
1 1/4 ounce vodka
1 ounce of peach purée
1 lemon wedge
1 peach slice
1. Chill 2 gallons of iced tea for at least an hour.
2. Put 8 ice cubes into a 12-ounce martini shaker. Pour tea, vodka and peach purée in the shaker. Shake well for 1 minute and pour into a martini glass.
3. Squeeze the juice of one lemon wedge in the glass. Place one peach slice on top to garnish.
TASTE "(This) is a unique peach, lemon-flavored tea. You don't really taste the alcohol," says Elias Gomez, Sugar's mixologist.
SCALLOPS WRAPPED IN BACON
1/4 cup miso
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup mirin (sweet rice wine)
1/3 cup sake
20 large scallops
20 slices bacon
20 (10-inch) bamboo skewers
1/3 cup teriyaki sauce
Greens, for serving
1. Combine miso, sugar, mirin and sake in a bowl. Add scallops and toss so they are well coated. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate scallops for 4 to 6 hours
2. Preheat oven at 300 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Wrap each scallop with a slice of bacon and thread onto a skewer.
3. Bake for 7 minutes, then baste with teriyaki sauce. Bake 5 to 7 minutes longer, or until bacon is slightly crisp. Remove from oven, and serve on greens. Makes 20 servings.
WHY THEY WORK "The sweetness of the peach fuzz helps to cut the fat in the bacon," says Jason Day, Sugar's director of restaurant operations. Chef Hok Chin, executive chef at Sugar, advises cooking the scallops just before guests arrive so you can serve them warm.
INFO Sugar Dining Den and Social Club, 246 Voice Rd., Carle Place; 516-248-7600, sugarli.com