Half the battle of hosting a party is making your house look GREAT! The other half? Well, coming up with the most awesome appetizers and cocktails offerings. I think this post is a really good place to start. There is something for everyone. Make one, make them all. It's up to you!
1. Croquetas de Jamon y Pollo: Hands down one of my favorites. They do take a bit of time to make, but they are so sinfully delicious. Soft, crunchy, sweet, salty. These are a must at any of my parties. They are also a favorite at Spanish tapas bars. By the way, every bar you go to in Spain will tell you they make the best croquetas. Just to let you know, I use panko bread crumbs, they do add that extra delicious CRUNCH!
2. The Manhattan: This is one of those drinks that fits well into any party whether you go for the Perfect Manhattan or the Classic Manhattan, here are a couple of recipes for your Manhattan drinking friends or family. Cocktails like the Manhattan are making a comeback, and everyone has a favorite recipe. Some prefer rye whiskey, others bourbon. Bitters anybody? Some forgo the bitters altogether.
Do you prefer cherry juice or cherry liqueur? Or, how about a lemon peel as a garnish? It’s always a nice touch. As you can see, the sky’s the limit. Aah, and last but not least… Do you like yours shaken or stirred?
3. Bourbon Peach Tea Smash: I feel the need to explain the name somewhat. For starters, yes, there is bourbon, but the tea is not actually peach tea per se. My husband brewed regular tea to pour over muddled peach slices, and this is where the “smash” part comes into play. Now, one ingredient that was kind of an afterthought, but ended up working amazing well, and really brought all the flavors together: rosemary infused simple syrup. Check out this refreshing drink.
4. Prosciutto Fig Ricotta Crostini: These are so easy to make. I love the combo of creamy, crunchy, salty. I have made this appetizers for a few of my parties and it is always a hit. If you have some extra time you can make the ricotta cheese too. It's worth it. Fig preserves with ricotta and prosciutto is perhaps the easiest “fancy” tapa there is. In my proverbial book, there is nothing more convenient than a tapas dish that requires little or no prep work. No stress, no mess, no fuss. Now we are talking! Let me put it this way: if you can toast bread, spread jam and pull things out of your fridge, this is for you!!
5. Blue Margarita: Tropical breezes are at your fingertips. Close your eyes and visualize, especially if you live in the frozen north like I do. The color of this drink is spectacular! Blue Margaritas use Blue Curacao, a liquor similar to Triple Sec which is used in the more traditional Margaritas. You will not find much difference in taste, but the color certainly bring a new colorful dimension to your drink. It is important that you use only fresh squeezed lemon juice and not the stuff that comes in the squirt bottle.
6. Mushrooms in Sherry Sauce: This simple appetizer is a definite keeper. Mushrooms are among my favorite things to eat. It's also the perfect app. for your vegetarian guests. Just as a sideline, there are countless ways to say mushrooms in Spanish. In Spain they are called champiñones (from the French champignons), in other Spanish speaking countries they are called setas. In Panama where I grew up they are called hongos! Out of all the names, hongos is the least appetizing, since it literally translates to “fungus.” Now, who wants fungus tapas? Anyhow, just thought I would share.
Well, we're half there. How do you like this array of awesome appetizers and cocktails so far? Not too shabby, right? Well, read on. There's more!
7. Pomegranate Margarita: Pomegranate juice is super healthy. Okay, margaritas are not! This is indeed a refreshing cocktail with beautiful flavor and color. The sugar rimmed glass is a PLUS! If you can find colored sugar, definitely serve it up. Now, let me be honest with you, when it comes to margaritas I have always been kind of a purist. Yes, I am not one of those girls who likes fancy drinks with little colorful umbrellas; but in this case, why not try new things right? So here we are! By the way, even though this is a girly kind of drink, there are still no umbrellas, LOL!
8. Coconut Mojito: This coconut water mojito (moe he toe) recipe reminds me of a silly 70’s song that went something like this “You put the lime in the coconut, and you drink it all up.” The lyrics always bring a smile to my face. This is a traditional mojito with a twist. Cool and refreshing. It goes especially well with Latin American appetizers.
9. Mango Black Bean Salsa: I've been making this recipe for years. I can't say enough about it. It's sweet, spicy, crunchy, and so deliciously refreshing. It is super healthy too, you can't say that about many appetizers. It's not only great with chips, but as a garnish on grilled fish or chicken. Mango Black Bean Salsa is what I would call Fusion cuisine. It is neither Latin American or Caribbean, however, it uses ingredients that are native to that cuisine. Mangoes have the natural advantage of being extremely nutritious. They are rich in vitamins A, C, potassium and omega 3’s. Because they are low in calories, they make a wonderful snack if you happen to be dieting: if my sources are correct, a mango has about 140 calories. Black beans are high in protein, which further adds to the nutritional value of this snack.
10. Coquito: A Puerto Rican favorite, especially for Christmas. Rich, sweet, and totally decadent. Loads of calories, but who is counting when you go to a party? What makes coquito so rich and creamy is the mixture of sweetened condensed milk and coconut milk. How can anything with sweetened condensed milk not be good? One very important note: coquito tastes much better cold, so make sure you allow plenty of time between preparation and serving. I normally like to allow 4-6 hours. Make sure you stir it before you serve it.
11. Shrimp Ceviche: My family loves this appetizer. It's super easy to make, a must at any Latin American or Caribbean party. If you are into ceviche you might also want to check out my tilapia ceviche recipe. Your seafood loving friends will be asking for more. So, what are you waiting for? Go make some ceviche, and don’t forget that nice cold beer to wash it down with.
12. Kofta Kari: Not your grandma's meatballs. The explosion of flavors is perfect for adding an ethnic twist to any appetizer spread. Kofta Kari is a traditional meat dish of Northern India and Pakistan according to my dear former classmate and friend who happens to be from Pakistan. Although this dish calls for lamb, feel free to use beef or turkey. Remember, a recipe is just a suggestion! By the way if you like trying out different types of meatballs, check out my recipe for Saucy North African Meatballs.
So what do you think about this list for awesome appetizers and cocktails? Let me know! If you like this list share it with your friends and family too. Happy party planning!