Christmas Cocktail Partying

Last night we had a few friends over for a Christmas Cocktail Party. We live in a very small one room loft, so it can be a bit challenging to host, say, even two people! But we were able to keep the stress to a minimum with the help of my Uncle, who just so happens to be a cocktail connoisseur, Trader Joes, Ina Garten, and Bon Appetit magazine. The cocktail menu for the night included White Manhattans (unaged whiskey, Dolin Blanc, orange bitters), Champagne Cocktails (with a sugar cube soaked in Angostura bitters), The Bees Knees (gin, honey, lemon juice and a lemon twist), Martinis, and Hot Rum Punch (recipe to follow). The Hot Rum Punch is featured in my Uncle’s book, To Have and Have Another: A Hemingway Cocktail Companion and is delicious!

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For snacking, we settled on serving crudité with Green Goddess dip and an Italian cured meat sampler with Soppressata, Calabrese Salame, Capocollo, and Prosciutto. Also available was a cheese plate with Brie (and Dalmatia fig spread), Cotswold, and Gouda and Castelvetrano olives. For the sweet tooths, my friend Kelsey brought amazing chocolate truffles and molasses cookies. And since I am a carb lover, I baked some of Ina Garten’s Gruyère and Mustard Batons. I wanted to share the recipe for the Green Goddess dip, batons, and Hot Rum Punch, because they are great for a crowd and are super simple to execute.

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Crudité with Green Goddess Dip:

Shopping List:

  • 1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • 1 anchovy fillet
  • 1 ripe avocado, halved, pitted, peeled

How To:

Blend mayonnaise and next 6 ingredients in processor. Add avocado; blend – but don’t blend too much! (I think mine was a bit over processed and ended up slightly runny). Season with salt and pepper and transfer to a bowl. I served the dip with blanched wax beans and broccoli, and raw cherry tomatoes, celery, carrot, and sugar snap peas.

Gruyère and Mustard Batons

Shopping List:

  • Flour for dusting the board
  • 1 sheet of frozen puff pastry, thawed and very cold (see note)
  • 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 egg beaten with 1 teaspoon water, for egg wash
  • 3 ounces gruyère cheese, grated
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • Flaked sea salt

How To:

Unfold the sheet of puff pastry on a well-floured board, and roll it to an 11×13-inch rectangle with a floured rolling pin. (Diagonal strokes keep the pastry rectangular.) With a shorter end closest to you, brush the lower half of the pastry evenly with the mustard, leaving a ½ -inch border around the edges. Brush the border of the pastry with the egg wash and fold the top half over the bottom half, lining up the edges. Place the pastry on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper and chill for 15 minutes.

Place the pastry on a board and trim the three irregular edges with a sharp knife. With the folded edge away from you, cut the pastry in 1×6-inch strips. You will have 10 to 12 batons. Spread the batons out on the sheet pan so they’re not touching. Brush the tops lightly with the egg wash (don’t allow the egg wash to drip down the sides) and sprinkle evenly with the gruyère, parmesan, and 1- teaspoons sea salt. Chill for at least 15 minutes.

When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Bake the batons for 15 to 18 minutes, until golden brown and puffed. Allow to cool on the pan for 3 minutes and serve warm.

Hot Rum Punch

Shopping List:

  • 1 ½ 750 ml bottles Barbados or lighter Jamaican Rum
  • 1 750 ml bottle Cognac
  • 3 quarts boiling water
  • 2 cups lemon juice
  • Brown sugar, to taste (we used about 12 ounces of brown sugar simple syrup)
  • Handful of cloves

How To:

Add all ingredients to a crock pot and stir occasionally. Garnish each cup with a spiral of yellow lemon peel.

Cheers!

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