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Skip the restaurants and host a happy hour at home. Learn how to put together a gourmet plant-based charcuterie board and serve it with a refreshing cocktail for an experience to remember.
With people spending more time at home, we are forced to learn new skills.
One of the skills I’ve been perfecting over the past few months is At-Home Happy Hour. Instead of going out, I’ve been prioritizing creating special moments with friends through food and drink.
Most often it’s just my partner and me, sitting on our back patio enjoying a glass of wine with some bread and olives. Occasionally, I’ve hosted a virtual happy hour with friends. When I do this, I like to pass along a cocktail recipe so that we can toast with the same beverage. And more recently, I’ve been participating in some backyard social distancing happy hours where we air-toast with our own beverage of choice.
Regardless of how it’s done, I believe in the importance of showing up and make each day count, and creating a bit of decadence and joy during this time is one way I know how to do it.
Ingredients for the Perfect Happy Hour
There are two components to hosting a successful happy hour: drink and food.
Drink: A Refreshing Cocktail
When hosting a happy hour, I want to create something refreshing, joyful, and summery. I’ve been enjoying Whiskey Sours recently but, for you, I wanted to make it a bit more special.
Enter: Cherry Lime Whiskey Sour
This cocktail is sweet, sour, and strong. It’s made with just 4 ingredients:
- 2 oz Bourbon
- 3/4 oz Lime Juice
- 1 tbsp. Cherry Juice (liquid from Maraschino Cherries)
- 1 tsp. Simple Syrup
And is the perfect way to celebrate in style at the end of a long day.
To make this drink, simply combine the ingredients in a shaker along with a few ice cubes and shake vigorously. Fill two glasses with ice and pour the cocktail through a strainer into the glasses. Garnish with lime and cherry.
Food: A Gourmet Snack
No happy hour is complete without a gourmet snack. When it comes to hosting, I prefer offering sharable snacks to help encourage a sense of togetherness and celebration.
What is the perfect happy hour snack?
A vegan charcuterie board!
Charcuterie boards are perfecting. They are full of flavor and variety. They strike a balance between sweet, savory, and salty. And, best of all, they are super simple to throw together.
While no charcuterie board is alike, here are some of my favorite components for any charcuterie board.
- Olives and Pickled Vegetables
- Artisan Bread
- Vegan Cheese
- Grapes or Berries
In addition to these staples sometimes I’ll add nuts, chocolate, dried fruit, crackers, hummus. The list goes on… In the end, you get a beautiful snack that screams decadence while being super easy to make for an instant crowd-pleaser.
How to Elevate your Happy Hour
Now that we have the foundational ingredients for the perfect at-home happy hour, let’s talk about how to take it to the next level.
There is one simple way to elevate your happy hour and that is Mezzetta.
What is Mezzetta?
Mezzetta is a family-owned company that started over 85 years ago when the founder, Giuseppe Luigi Mezzetta, brought the taste of Italy to his new home in San Fransisco.
In recent years, the company has continued to expand offering an even wider variety of premium products from around the world: Greek peperoncini (my favorite!), gourmet pasta and pizza sauces, olives, pickled vegetables, and other Mediterranean products. Mezzetta is now a leading brand of pickled, cured, and canned goods, bringing the wholesome and delicious flavors of the Mediterranean to our everyday kitchens.
Why I Choose Mezzetta
Mezzetta’s products are of top quality. No matter how much they have grown, Mezzetta is committed to offering world-class products with unforgettable flavor and texture.
When it comes to olives, I only buy Mezzetta. The Greek Kalamata Olives are the best I’ve ever had. They are deep in flavor and color, salty, and rich. Even better are Mezzetta’s Spanish Queen Martini Olives. Deliciously plump green olives marinated in dry vermouth to add the perfect kick (plus you can add them to your martini and skip the vermouth!).
But that’s not all. Mezzetta has so many incredible products that I rely on them exclusively for my perfect at-home happy hour.
For this charcuterie board, I added a variety of olives and pickled vegetables:
- Pitted Greek Kalamata Olives
- Spanish Queen Martini Olives
- Golden Green Peperoncini
- Deli Sliced Tamed Jalapños Peppers
- Sun-Ripened Dried Tomatoes
In addition, Mezzetta Maraschino Cherries were the inspiration for my cocktail. These cherries are so intensely red and sweet (without any artificial coloring) that they inspired me to make a cherry-flavored whiskey sour. And I’m so glad I did.
Mezzetta aims to add joy to everything they do and it shows. If you really want to bring your happy hour to the next level, stock up on Mezzetta products and get started!
5 Tips for Hosting the Perfect Happy Hour
- Food. Do not take on too much or you won’t be able to relax. Make any food you can ahead of time and the rest should only take minutes to throw together.
- Drinks. Just like with food, keep your drinks simple. Consider making big-batch cocktails that can be served in a pitcher.
- Variety. Offer a variety of snacks to cover all dietary restrictions. (Did someone say vegan charcuterie?). Also, consider providing a non-alcoholic beverage option.
- Decor. Decorate with fresh, seasonal flowers or decor to bring joy and light into the room.
- Attitude. Don’t stress. Keep it light and energetic. It won’t be a happy hour if the host isn’t feeling happy.
I think we could all use some joy and excitement now. Whip up a Cherry Lime Whiskey Sour and share a toast with me.
Cherry Lime Whiskey Cocktail
- 2 oz Bourbon
- 3/4 oz Lime Juice
- 1/2 oz. Cherry Juice (liquid from Maraschino Cherries
- 1 tsp. Simply Syrup
- Maraschino Cherry and Lime Wedge, for garnish
- Combine the ingredients in a shaker along with a few ice cubes and shake vigorously.
- Fill two glasses with ice and pour the cocktail through a strainer into the glasses.
- Garnish with lime and cherry and serve immediately.