Resource: Porch Parties

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“Come sit for a spell. There’s something instantly relaxing about a porch, where—in your own home, a friend’s home or a favorite rental cottage—you can relax in your own little world…It’s been said a porch is where a home welcomes you with open arms. The true height of enjoyment, though, is to share that experience with friends and family.”

This invitation is in the introduction of Denise Gee’s Porch Parties: Cocktail Recipes and Easy Ideas for Outdoor Entertaining.  Gee taps into the easy ambience of summer with this compilation of 50 drink recipes and tips for parties in everyone’s favorite place to relax.

Gee is the author of Southern Cocktails and has written for Southern Living and Better Homes and Gardens. The photographs in the book which evoke the wonderful sense of summer’s ease were taken by Robert M. Peacock, a Dallas photographer who works for leading magazines and cookbook authors.This book is divided into sections–the first is “Porch Party Pointers.” Gee covers porch décor and lighting, setting up a buffet, bar, party planning, glassware, syrups, garnishes, “nice ice,” and centerpieces. The next section is “Convivial Cocktails”–she offers some familiar drinks and other more unusual ones.  These are some of the recipes I liked the best–minty mango margarita, tipsy tea, gumby slumber, watermelon cooler, blackberry smash, and ruby sangria.In the section “Punch with Pizza,” I learned that the word “punch” is thought to be short for “puncheon,” an Old English word for a wine cask that held 72 gallons. Now that is a lot of punch! Hibiscus punch, very good champagne punch, Cape Cod punch with cranberries, and Natchez milk punch are just a few of the recipes to try.

Gee also includes recipes for non-alcoholic drinks. “Say ‘frocktails’ and not ‘mocktails’ because there is nothing to mock about people wanting to hit the party deck without truly hitting the deck, and I say ‘frocktails’ because  these nonalcoholic beverages are dolled up in both dress and ingredients. Some ingredients she suggests to use in lieu of liquor include the following: for vodka, white grape juice mixed with lime; for triple sec, orange juice concentrate or orange juice; for white wine, white grape juice or apple juice; for red wine, red grape juice or cranberry juice; and for coffee liqueur, espresso or coffee syrup.

Gee also included nine recipes for little bites.” For example, she suggests these “nibbles in a pinch”—cucumber slices topped with herbed cream cheese, cream cheese bar topped with chutney or hot pepper jelly, cashews, roasted peanuts in shell, and cheese tortellini cooked al dente after marinating for a few hours in just enough Italian dressing to lightly coat.

“I’ve also learned that a porch mindset travels with us where we are. It’s all about taking it outside and letting our cares blow away with the breeze. To savor a quick and rejuvenating rest. To talk with each other and share stories that might otherwise get lost in the doldrums of everyday life,” says Gee.

Get a copy of this book, make the first cocktail that looks appealing, and take them both out to the porch to read–what a treat! This book is available online. Enjoy!

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