Sunday, February 24, 2013

Cocktailery, En Masse Version

Over at his blog, Hurricane Hayward, chronicler and scribe of the single greatest annual cultural event in SoFla, is planning to discuss "punch for 200." Which is a noble endeavor indeed.

Speaking of cocktailery en masse, among the things I'll be tackling as the main focus of this evening's symposium is selecting ardent spirits for the purposes of entertaining a group of people the number of which blurs the tenuous line between "every single person you've ever met still living" and "a restless throng."

Those of you who remember me immediately before the lovely and gracious Poppy and Badger got me into blogging will recall, with varying degrees of mnemonic limpidity, JoeFest.

For the maladjusted, or at least the arrivistes, JoeFest is how I celebrated turning 40. It was an event scheduled around my 40th birthweek, and encompassed not just two birthday parties on the Saturdays straddling my birthday (on a Wednesday that year, if memory serves), but a sushi bar crawl and a tapas crawl (on the Fridays straddling my birthday, respectively), a driving tour of SoFla for the uninitiated, and assorted things that fall under the category of what my long-suffering beloved generally terms: "Stuff Only YOU Would Think Of."

(And, for the truly insider-y types, Sunday Brunch.)

And, because, I'm just wired wrong, JoeFest featured a registration desk, name tags, an agenda and the like. (If you've ever had to attend these sorts of professional meetings/trade shows/conventions, you'll know EXACTLY what I was going after.) In fact, the only regret I have is not being able to secure sponsorship, because this was a wallet-eviscerating indulgence of my rather puzzling sense of humor.


The point is that we had kind of a significant crowd loitering around who needed to be fed and quenched.

As someone who, with no little frequency often has to feed and quench a not-insignificant number of persons, I am often finding myself facing this dilemma:

People expect excellentness of me in terms of what they are to imbibe/ingest. *I* couldn't possibly provide anything that I, personally, considered substandard, either in the edibles or the potables. (That other people may think them perfectly adequate is scandalously irrelevant.) But there's are the issues of

a) budgetary constraints for the edibles and potables that need be obtained to adequately meet the needs of a small horde.
b) the substantial percentage of people in that horde who, regardless of their other manifold sterling qualities, have quite fully developed palate. (i.e. people whose dietary regimen features prominently drive-through activity and microwaving) These are people who, ma-a-a-a-a-aybe, could tell the difference between your chili with beef and your chili with, say, turkey.
c) my not wanting to consume, at my own party and my own expense, stuff I think is $#!+.

Which brings us to spirituous liquors.

The vast majority of my -- and I'll cheerfully wager, your -- guests will not be able to taste the difference, in a trial of a thousand years, between...oh, I dunno...Beefeater's and Bombay gins.

With wines and beers, this is easy enough to cover. There are plenty of either that meet the criteria of "very good" and "very cheap." And to a certain extent, cheapness is crucial here. Let's be blunt. Many of these guests (mine and yours) are, from tastebuds to palate, utter philistines. Hanged if we're to drop excess coin on people who simply will not be able to appreciate it.

So what we're looking for, in entertaining for a regiment, is that sweet spot. Stuff that's great, but cheap. Or, at least, pretty good, but cheap.

Since this is Tiki month, and since I've already hinted at it, I'll start off with the rums:

White Rum: Cruzan (1.75L for $14.99 at my local Total Wine)
Aged/Gold Rum: Bacardi 8 (750ml for $13.99 at my local Costco, which brings us to...)
Spiced (what? shut up) Rum: Kirkland Signature St. Croix Island Spiced Rum (1.75L for $15)

I'd like to now expound on the surprising sweet-spotness of Costco's store-brand liquors for the purposes of entertaining a crowd. Their Bourbon (made by Jim Beam, as is their spiced rum, above), vodka, tequila and -- not that this would go into crowd-cocktail mode -- single malt scotch (traditionally made by Macallan) are all excellent value and definitely better-than-adequate for dispensing cocktails to a guest list that brings to mind the word "teeming." We'll cover gin at a later date, as I am trying my hand at infusing my very own. Cognac? (i.e. as in Sidecars for the People) Go with Martell VS.

You wouldn't want to necessarily serve them at a meeting of the Executive Council of the Super Tasters Guild, but when you have to provide for people who frequently eat frozen dinners and still have to consume some yourself...