This post is part of a series about eco-friendly entertaining. Read the entire Green Summer Gourmet series here.
When you have group of friends coming over for an afternoon in the sun and you have your grill ready and your salads prepared, you can have some delicious organic wines to serve with the meal, but it's fun to get the party started with some organic cocktails.
People laugh when I say that the only things in my freezer are a bottle of gin and martini glasses, because they think I'm kidding. Well, I'm not and I take my cocktails seriously, so I took up the challenge for Planet Green and started searching out organic alcohol available in Toronto. We have a very bizarre system in Ontario, whereby the Provincial Government controls what alcohol is available to the citizenry and you can only buy it in Provincially run stores. So even though their product listing includes an organic gin, which I've purchased before, the only stores which now carry it are a few hours drive from my home. This is the long way of saying that you might have to search out an organic gin in your city, but it exists. Coming up with organic vodka was a much easier proposition. I didn't have to go any farther than my local store to find two kinds, 360 Vodka and Square One Vodka. 360 Vodka even includes a free CFL bulb with purchase. There are organic whiskeys available throughout the U.K., but I had absolutely no luck finding any here in Ontario.
I did purchase some premium English gin called Bulldog, just so we would have something to make gin cocktails with. My husband likes bourbon and whisky, so I added a bottle of Maker's Mark for him. Once I had the liquor in place, I had to come up with some recipes and some tasters. I used my son and his girlfriend as guinea pigs a couple of weeks ago, but they are in their early 20s and drink beer and wine and didn't quite get the cocktail idea. Clearly, I needed some slightly more experienced people with an appreciation for different alcoholic beverages.
I had a cottage full of company this past weekend and my guests were more than willing to be Planet Green taste testers. There were six adults, which seemed like a reasonable number of people to try out drinks. I came up with recipes for ten drinks and let each guest choose their preferred cocktail based on the ingredients. I added a seventh drink, which had a very odd ingredient list, just to see what it would be like. I based my recipe choices on a number of things. It had to be easy to make, because nobody wants to spend their entire party mixing complicated drinks. It had to be seasonal, something light or fruity. It had to have no more than two types of easily obtained and drinkable alcohol in it, because you don't need an entire bottle of some weird ingredient sitting unused in your liquor cupboard for the next ten years.
Then I got to mixing the drinks. I served them all in identical wine glasses, without rimming or adding garnish. We tried each drink and discussed them before moving on to the next. I wrote down everyone's impressions and then we chose drinks that worked in different categories.