This post is in partnership with Finlandia Vodka. All thoughts and opinions are our own. Thank you for supporting the brands that support The Fresh Exchange every month. We always choose them with much consideration of our beliefs and readers in mind.
Summer is full of entertaining whether for a simple weekend get-together with friends or entertaining guests at your home for a week. Living in a place that is a seasonal destination, our home is something similar to a Bed and Breakfast most of the summer and even fall. It seems every weekend we have friends or family coming in and out of our home. We love it, but there is no doubt we have to have ways to keep everyone happy and enjoying themselves. One of my favorite things is to keep some trusty ingredients around to quickly and easily create a simple and summery cocktail bar so your guests aren’t looking to you for drinks that accompany your dinner that night or even leave you feeling like you need to spend your whole time behind the bar. The truth is, cocktails don’t have to be complicated. In fact, with just a little pre-planning, you can have a surprisingly impressive yet straightforward bar set-up. Not only that we are also going to give you 3 very easy recipes your guests will have no trouble making all on their own. To pull this summery cocktail bar and recipes together we worked with Finlandia Vodka to show how simple infusing three vodkas with herbs can really be all you need to create a show stopper of a cocktail bar the next time you are entertaining this summer.
The key to a great bar is simply to have fresh ingredients and just enough variety that it leaves room for creativity, but not so much that people feel overwhelmed. This is why I love to infuse vodka. This is so easy to prep before hand and usually gets guests very excited. They love to try them all. I personally enjoy infusing our vodkas with herbs. I love the way they look and how they really bring a unique punch of flavor to a cocktail full of citrus and fruit. Of course, you can infuse Vodka with nearly anything. That is the beauty of it. You can enjoy it simply on its own or make it all your own with just a simple 24-48 hour infusion.
For our bar, we use rosemary, thyme, and mint to infuse three bottles of Finlandia Vodka. We placed the herbs in a new jar so we could easily show off the herbs to guests so they could see what is in them. I then poured the Finlandia to each bottle the day before our guests were to show up. Then I capped them and let them sit to do their thing. The flavor turns out subtle and natural, especially with herbs. If you plan to keep the vodka longer than 48 hours I would suggest rebottling it and labeling. The herbs will begin falling apart and it won’t be as pretty. This way though you can use it again for another event or to make another type of cocktail for other gatherings you may have that summer.
To create the rest of the bar, these are the items I suggest you have for your guests:
Fresh Herbs for garnish or muddling (Rosemary, Mint, Basil, Thyme, etc)
Fresh Berries for muddling (blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, currents, etc)
To set it up just set a table in a common area you plan to host dinner or guests that evening. Give the table plenty of space. If you plan to have quite a few guests (more than 6) make sure the table is accessible from both sides. Beyond that, just setup the table in a beautiful and organized way. You can either leave guests to their own devices to make up cocktails for themselves or we have 3 suggested cocktails below that each used the infused Finlandia Vodka.
Everyone loves a great refreshing Moscow Mule especially this time of year when it is warm, but don’t feel like you have to have fancy copper cups to offer your guests. A mule is just refreshing in a glass as well. This recipe, though not traditional is simply just a twist on the classic.
Juice of 1/2 of a lime
2 oz. Ginger Beer
2 Oz. Thyme Infused Finlandia Vodka
Combine all ingredients and give a slight stir and garnish with a slice of lime.
This is a great cocktail for the non-cocktail drinker. It is fruity and fun, but still the right amount of earthy that makes it feel garden fresh. The ginger adds just the right amount of zing to it to make it a lively answer to a good cocktail for an evening gathering.
2 oz Ginger Beer
Juice from 1/2 a lemon
2 oz. Rosemary Infused Finlandia Vodka
A Small handful of berries (blueberries, currants, and raspberries were used in this one)
Rosemary Sprig for garnish
Muddle the berries and lemon together at the bottom of glass. Add Rosemary Infused Vodka and Ginger beer. Then top with ice and stir. Garnish with the rosemary sprig.
For a light a refreshing cocktail on a really hot day this one should make everyone happy. It is simple and meant to be really straightforward. Think of a spa in a glass.
1 oz. Mint Infused Finlandia Vodka
2 oz. Club Soda or Sparkling Water
Juice from 1 Lime
Juice from 1/2 a grapefruit
(optional muddling a cucumber in the bottom)
If you are going to add cucumber muddle it first with the lime and grapefruit juice. If not just add the juices and vodka. Then add ice and top with club soda. Garnish with a wedge of lime.
Though entertaining can sometimes feel like a mountain to tackle, we have found that creating spaces for the evening to unfold in a natural and unplanned way creates for the most memorable gatherings. Creating a cocktail bar for your guests with unique flavors is a wonderful way to allow your guests to connect, laugh, try new things together, and enjoy a new experience. If you still feel like this a lot to take on, I would suggest dividing some of the tasks amongst your guests. I have found guests love being apart of the prep pulling it all together. It creates a communal feeling to the night.
Remember though, the most important part of hosting and entertaining is to have fun so leaving room for the night to unfold is the most important part. Enjoy cocktails and always enjoy them responsibly, of course, but don’t forget to relax and enjoy the laughter and great conversation throughout the process.
What are your secrets for serving cocktails during summer gatherings? If you were to enjoy this cocktail bar we made, what cocktail would you make with the infused vodkas we made with Finlandia? Have any of you experimented with infusing before?
This year all sponsored content we do, 5% of our compensation is being given to FLOW: For The Love of Water in order to protect the Great Lakes and to keep them the precious thing they are. If you want to read more about this find our post here.