Summer Cocktail Tips from West Coast Bartenders

Tuesday, July 6th, 2010

Now that we have some great tips for our summer BBQs, we thought asking Jeff of Westcoast Bartenders for a few summer cocktail recipes and tips would be a great fit! Jeff has been bartending for 10 years and his company has worked for a variety of events from weddings to large corporate events, movie sets and small backyard gatherings.

Q. What are some essential bar ingredients and tools that everyone should have at home, in case of an impromptu summer party?

A. Keep ice and a few bottles of alcohol on hand. If you stick to a few staples you can prepare most drink recipes. I recommend stocking vodka, rum, tequila, gin and rye. If you keep a selection of pop and fruit juice on hand you can mix together highballs, basic martinis and cocktails at any time. A couple of bottles of good red and white wine are great to keep at home as well. If you need to get them cool the white wine quickly, submerge the bottle in a bucket of ice and water for a few minutes. Which is a good point, always have ice in the freezer!

A blender is a great tool to have easily accessible throughout the summer.  When the time calls, throw some tequila, fresh lime juice, a few teaspoons of simple syrup and ice in a blender – a fresh lime margarita awaits you in no time.  Alternatively, you can keep some easy margarita mixes on hand which only require you to add tequila and ice.  They come in a variety of flavours and will satisfy any warm, thirsty guest.

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Q. Fabulous microbreweries are popping up all over the place. What are 3 great craft breweries you would suggest giving a try this summer?

A. 3 Fraser Valley breweries that I would recommend are the Dead Frog Brewery in Aldergrove, Mission Springs Brewing Company in Mission and the Central City Brewing Co. in Surrey.  All of these craft breweries create some delicious beers. Dead Frog’s Pepper Lime Lager, Mission Spring’s Cream Ale and Central City’s IPA are all really unique, tasty brews.

Q. What is a safe B.C. red and a safe B.C. white to serve to guests, if you are not very educated in the wine department, or a non-drinker yourself?

A. My outlook on local beer and wine is to try them all! There are so many out there that when I go shopping I never buy the same product twice. I think when you’re buying wine there is no “safe” way to go because everyone’s palates are so different. If you serve a variety, you’ll be sure to find something for everyone. If you are serving some discerning guests, seek the advice of a local wine store like Firefly or Wine Emporium.

Q. Can you suggest an easy but impressive recipe for a delicious summer cocktail?

A. An extremely easy and delicious cocktail, that is suitable to serve anytime, is a simple vodka cranberry. It’s a perfect summer drink that’s not too sweet. Squeeze a wedge of fresh orange into it and garnish with floating orange rounds. If you’re serving it in the Fall or Winter, garnish with frozen cranberries for a seasonal flair. Remember: when you are making your own highballs and cocktails, keep them short with lots of ice.  You can always make another cocktail when you’re done. Big tall drinks change the taste too much and they fill you up.

Cranberry Cocktail.
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Q. What’s your favorite mocktail to serve in the Summer?

A. I like to create blended drinks for those who don’t drink alcohol.  Take some fresh limes, strawberries or mangoes and mix them with your favourite tropical juice blend. Throw it all in the blender with some ice, garnish with fresh fruit and you’ve got yourself an impressive mocktail.  The best part about mixing drinks, alcoholic or not, is that the recipes are flexible.  Lemonade, fresh strawberries and ice make for a refreshing non-alcoholic drink for anyone to enjoy on a warm summer afternoon.

Q. Should one hire a bartender only if they are having a “big” soiree?  What if we’re having a backyard BBQ or work party, is that an appropriate setting to hire a professional bartender?

A. Hiring a bartender is a good thing when you’re throwing any event. A bartender frees the host from having to make all the drinks and can take care of buying all the necessary ingredients for making drinks. I recommend listing some suggested cocktails or martinis for the guests. This makes serving drinks faster than making 20 different types of drinks and also cuts down on the different types of alcohol you have to buy. If you are having a cash bar, make sure to let your guests know so they can bring along cash. A toonie bar is a great idea that contributes a little bit to the cost of hosting an event and limits excessive drinking but still allows guests to enjoy a night out without a significant cost.

One thing to keep in mind: Is there a place for the bartender to work? Our team at West Coast Bartenders have our own mobile bar that we can bring for events with as few as 20 people, which is great.  But when the bartender is just standing in the kitchen it takes away from that service. People don’t respond to it as well as going up to an actual bar. Other than that I would say there are no restrictions for when to have a bartender at a party.

Thanks for the tips, Jeff!

West Coast Bartenders
Mobile bar service in the Fraser Valley & Lower Mainland
Ring: 604.612.1042

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