Our annual Holiday Cocktail Contest is a huge hit in the summer with some friends perfecting their skills during the off season. The grand prize is always something useful like a rhinestone-studded martini shaker or dinner for two at a local restaurant.
Ours is a fun 12-person (21 and up) Cocktail party where we ask everyone to bring their favorite h ors d’oeuvres . The local Goodwill Store usually has interesting and colorful cocktail glasses for around 50-cents each. I let guests chose which glasses they’ll use for the competition. It’s a good idea to provide pens, pads of paper and cute place cards for naming their drinks.
The Cocktail Set-Up
Make a blender available to all the teams in case someone wants to make a blended drink. At each cocktail station, supply a shaker, stirrers, ice, three glasses along with salt and sugar to rim the glasses.
Divide guests into three teams of three declaring the remaining three guests as judges. Then ask that each team to name itself. Just Ginnin’, Tequilla Drinkers Annonymous and Lemon-Lime Liquors have been our party favorites.
Allow cocktail teams two choices from each category below to round out their stations:
- Fruit juice: Apple, cranberry, lemon and peach.
- Syrups: Lime, chocolate, cherry.
- Sprinkles: Cinnamon, Nutmeg, vanilla bean, red pepper flakes.
- Fruits: Lemon, lime, strawberry, pineapple slices.
- Extras: Celery stalks, mint leaves, jalapeños, green olives, coconut.
- Candy: Peppermint sticks, caramel cubes, chocolate kisses, black liquorish.
While cocktail teams are making magic in the kitchen, occupy guest judges with great music and those delicious munchies.
Make sure each cocktail station has 4 oz. of each: El Jimadore Tequila, Ciroc Vodka and New Amersterdam Gin. Limit the finished cocktail to 2 oz. liquor per cocktail. Guests should be given 15 minutes to create and name three unique cocktails using one of each libation and present the drinks to the judges anonymously.
Ask guest judges to rate the cocktails on a scale of one to five (five being best) on the cocktail’s unique name, taste and appearance.
Last year’s winner was submitted by Tequila Drinkers Anonymous; Sweet Pepper Pot that included a salt and sugar rimmed glass of tequila, apple juice, red pepper flakes and a jalapeño slice. I always prepare a dessert and a hot pot of coffee to finish the evening.