Have a Night Out at Home!
If you're anything like me, you'll be most in your element when sat in a classy, trendy bar with super-cool bartenders brimming over with knowledge, and a cocktail list enticing you with every ingredient. I love to while away the hours absorbing their knowledge and pinching any tips and ideas that they'll share. However, the problem arises when reality sinks in that my career sadly doesn't support the lavish lifestyle that my heart and tastebuds crave! Like any normal woman, I refuse to fight my cravings; what my body wants, it must definitely need, and so that's when I began starting my Night Out, In soirees!
A night in doesn't have to consist of beer, wines, and the odd spirit and mixer, nor does it need to break the bank! My advice is to pick three drink recipes (I added a little shot to this night in), try to use a base spirit that is already in the house, or one you can use across the three drinks, and then all you need to buy are the extra flavours to mix up a storm! Your guests will be amazed by your efforts, there won't be any wine or beer to make them sluggish and sleepy, and you'll be booking your next Night Out, In before you know it!
Some of you may be lucky enough to live in the US where flavoured spirits are, as readily available as fish and chips are to England. Unfortunately, I live in the UK, and flavours are few and far between in comparison. After seeing some cocktails on DrinkedIn which included Birthday Cake Vodka, I was desperate not to miss out, and so began infusing my own rum and vodka concoctions.
I started out with just a small test sample.......hah! Yeah, right! I created nine different infusions from sweet candy flavours such as Drumsticks and Toasted Marshmallow, to natural fruit infusions including Vanilla and Blueberries. I am still getting through each of these infusions and slowly adding the drink recipes to my blog (https://infusapalooza.blogspot.com), but here's how our first Night Out, In went......
First of all, we got the party started in style with some shooters! I graduated over 5yrs ago now, so shots of any form have to be tasty enough to hold my attention, but I still want to stand up at the end of it (Oh, how I've matured!).
Whilst I have not infused any of these ingredients myself, this is by far, my favourite shot!
Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome the Jammy Doughnut!
It is so pretty that some male companions deem it to be too pretty, but if they just put their masculinity to one side, this one is a sure fire hit with everyone! Tonight was the first time my fella had tried it, and after some heavy persuasion tactics to try the first one, this turned in to several and we found ourselves needing to buy another bottle of Chambord by the end of the week!
30ml Double Cream
10ml Toasted Marshmallow Coffee Syrup (optional, lemon juice would also work fine, but the syrup gives a great extra layer of flavour, and is very easy to buy online)
You do need a steady hand for this one, but it's easy once you get the hang of it.
Start by adding a sugar rim to the shot glass. The easiest way to do this without any fancy bar equipment is to pour the coffee syrup on to a saucer, and the sugar on to a separate saucer. Take the shot glass and turn it upside down, dip it in to the syrup first, and then in to the sugar, and this should give you a fantastic looking sugar-rimmed glass.
Next, pour the Chambord shot in to the bottom of the glass, being careful not to remove any of the sugar rim.
Now, the last stage is slightly tricky, but practise makes for perfection! Take a teaspoon, a bar spoon, or a long handled teaspoon (think knickerbocker glory!), and rest the rounded side of the spoon on the top of the Chambord, keeping it still, slowly pour the cream in to the spoon, and bring the spoon up as the glass fills......and Ta Daaah, take a bow, make your guests', and it's DOUGHNUT TIME!
Tip - Try not to look at how well the cream is floating, just have a bit of faith and you should be fine! I find that if I look, I can occasionally knock the spoon which then ruins the whole layer.
If this version is too sweet, or not providing the kick you need, you can substitute half of the Chambord with Vodka.
Next up, I wanted to serve my guests something strong to set the mood, a martini is perfect for this, and in the style of keeping things sweet, I opted for a Toasted Marshmallow & Toffee Martini
35ml Marshmallow Infused Vodka (recipe here - https://infusapalooza.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/toasted-marshmallow-vodka.html)
35ml Toffoc (or another Toffee flavoured Vodka)
Dash of Lime juice
I read a very interesting article (https://www.itanzania.co.tz/lifestyle/fashion/item/26270-5-drinks-you-can-ruin-by-stirring.html) today about how to ruin certain drinks by shaking the ingredients with ice, and this drink falls right in to this category, so I now recommend stirring the two vodkas through a mixing glass of ice, with the lime juice. However, if you feel this drink is a bit strong for your personal tastes, shake the hell out of it, I won't tell the experts if you don't!
Strain in to a glass, and serve with a toasted marshmallow.
I used the extra large marshmallows to add to the wow-factor, and also serves as an amuse bouche to dinner.
Next up, I wanted to make a slightly longer drink for my guests to enjoy with food, and so out came the Rum Banoffee Pies!
Don't be fooled by it's name, it's not a heart attack in a glass, and if you really need to, you can skip the cream topping, but by doing so, you will lose the hostess with the mostess award!
35ml Sweet Banana Rum (recipe here - https://infusapalooza.blogspot.co.uk/2013/05/ill-take-my-rum-banoffee-pie-in-glass.html)
35ml Toffoc (or another Toffee Flavoured Vodka)
Double Cream, Whipped (Or save time and calories with whipped cream)
Sliced Banana and Cinnamon to garnish
This one tastes best cold, you might choose to add ice if your guests want a cooler drink, otherwise, if you can add fancy layers and practise you technique further and begin by layering the Banana Rum, Toffoc, and Cream Soda.
Top with whipped cream, add a couple of banana slices to the edge of the glass, dust with ground cinnamon, and serve!
Party Tip - In the same style as the famous tequila worm, save the banana sweets in a separate jar for a fun side shot in banana form!
My all time piece of advice for creating the best Night Out, In events......Always save the best until last, whether that's dessert, a cocktail, or a combination of the two. My personal favourite is always the last option, why make a choice when you can have it all at once?!
And with that, I give you...Infusapalooza Does Blueberry Pancakes!
This cocktail is so tasty, I have decided to feature it at every Night Out, In that I host this summer!
Please make sure you get plenty of supplies in for this drink, one will not be enough, you have been warned!
40ml Blueberry Infused Vodka (recipe here - https://infusapalooza.blogspot.co.uk/2013/05/infusapalooza-does-blueberry-pancakes.html)
20ml Grapefruit Vodka (I used Finlandia)
Good dollop of Vanilla Ice Cream
Handful of fresh Blueberries
Good pinch of Cinnamon
Mini pancakes to garnish (I used this recipe - https://pinterest.com/pin/368943394443807423/)
Add everything (except for the pancakes and a few blueberries) to a blender and whizz it all up.
Pour out into a glass, decorate with the remaining blueberries and super-cute mini pancakes, and serve!
This drink will absolutely get you compliments and have everyone leaving on a high!
Other Night Out, In Considerations
Don't forget that most of the above infusions have leftover drunken fruit or sweets and these can be great as side shots, served with an Eton Mess or just with ice cream for an extra zing and adult twist on the classic.
Music is always important, whether it's themed around the evening, or your guests' tastes, just make sure you plan ahead, there's nothing worse than MTV on repeat in the background!
Dress codes can always help shake up people's perception of a night in, a dress code is needed on a night out, so it's definitely needed on a Night Out, In and helps to keep the riff raff out!
Finally, I'm sure this goes without saying but whether your having a sit down meal, BBQ, or nibbles, make sure there's plenty for all, you don't want to send people home with empty bellies and dizzy heads! I always tend to do something as the main focus, smoked BBQ pulled pork from the slow cooker is always a favourite with our friends, but have lots of nibbles to compliment it, and to fuel the early hour chats!
Enjoy yourselves guys, and let me know your thoughts on the drinks, if you tweak the recipes, I'd love to hear how they turn out!
Until next time, Cheers!