Kate Krader and Jim Meehan’s Cocktail Tips

Sometimes dubbed the “best bartender in the world,” James Beard award-winning Jim Meehan and Kate Krader, Food & Wine’sĀ restaurant editor, hosted a seminar on “Great Cocktail Party Drinks” last week during the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen. The entertaining duo bantered with each other in front of a Friday afternoon audience at The Little Nell, and had some helpful tips when it comes to making cocktails for crowds (which they did with expertise for everyone in the room).

  • Batch your drinks. If you make each drink for your party one by one, says Meehan, “bad things will happen.” He swears that almost any drink can be made in bulk, and demonstrated with three cocktails during the presentation. Use serving bowls, pitchers, and large containers to prepare.
  • A punchbowl is the best person you can invite to your party, he adds. For something like a margarita, Meehan suggests making the drink ahead of time and then placing it in a location far away from where the wine and beer will be served. “It’s like the R-rated water cooler at your office,” he says.
  • Less is more when it comes to ingredients. More than three or four is too much, and when batching, always use the least expensive ingredient first. That way, if you mess it up it’s easier to replace simple syrup than Cointreau.
  • Use a variety of vessels to format your drinks. Teacups hide cocktail ingredients when they start to settle. Mason jars are ideal for preparing ahead of time, topping with a lid, and then keeping cool in a bucket of ice to serve when guests arrive. If you’re serving margaritas, salt half of the rim on all glasses so that people can choose between “salt” and “no salt” themselves.
  • Cheers!
Volunteers demonstrate batch serving during Jim Meehan and Kate Krader's cocktail class at the Food & Wine Classic.
Volunteers demonstrate batch serving during Jim Meehan and Kate Krader’s cocktail class at the Food & Wine Classic.