An Intimate Gathering... With Ease!

February 05, 2018

An Intimate Gathering... With Ease!

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Has Valentine's Day almost passed by without a thought of your spouse or significant other? Or, if you are single, have you given a thought to pulling together something special at your house? Or just need an idea for the weekend, something different?

If so, I wanted to share a couple of fantastic ideas that can be used tonight, or anytime for that matter, for a small gathering.

Everything old is new again. The trend for retro/mini cocktails is exploding, and as a mixologist, I find it very interesting that the cocktails in the 20's were mini because they were almost pure alcohol. Alas, I have come up with a classic cocktail that will be elegant, tastes great, and can be romantic, not pure alcohol, but retro all the same.

Do you have some antique martini glasses? If so, they are very small. Serve a nice port, or, mix this:

The Retro Cocktail

The ingredients in this whiskey based cocktail are reminiscent of the famous "Sidecar" of the 1920's. I have softened this original recipe a bit for flavor enhancement, for today's discriminating cocktail palette.


  • 1 ounce premium Crown Royal Whiskey
  • ¼ ounce Triple Sec
  • ¼ ounce Maraschino Cherry Juice
  • 2 ounces Sweet and Sour Mix
  • 1 Mini Lime Wedge
  • 1 Maraschino Cherry

Add all liquid ingredients to a martini shaker with ice. Shake a pour. Garnish with a mini lime wedges and cherries on an olive pick.

To pair food with this cocktail, you need something a little sweet yet savory. It is easy, ultra sophisticated, and delicious.

Duck Nachos

  • 1 package wonton wrappers or eggroll wrappers
  • 1 bottle of Hoison Sauce
  • ½ cups Brown sugar
  • ½ cup Orange Juice
  • ½ cup Maraschino Cherry Syrup (can use from a bottle of cherries)
  • Olive Oil
  • 2 Duck Breasts
  • Manchego Cheese or other Mild, crumbly cheese such as mild feta
  • ½ cup chopped scallions

Take two breasts of duck and coat with brown sugar, orange juice and maraschino cherry syrup and place in a plastic bag.

In a large non-stick skillet, fill with at least 2 inches of olive oil. Bring to medium heat.

Take wonton wrappers or egg roll wrappers cut into halves and fry just until they're puffy. Then take them out and place them on a piece of paper towel to drain.

While the wontons drain, place the duck breasts skin side down into the pan for 7 minutes. Flip over and cook for another 7 minutes.

Spread wontons on a cookie sheet, then slice the duck breast against the grain and place on wontons with the marinade left over in the pan. Pour warm Hoison sauce over the duck and top off with scallions and Manchego cheese.

Bake at 300 degrees for about 10-15 minutes and serve.

These recipes are not complicated, and once you keep these ingredients on hand, you will never lack for an impromptu, sophisticated gathering!


Of course, now that you have two show-stopping things to serve, invite the gals or your significant other. No need to have a million things to serve…use this repertoire as the perfect before dinner appetizer/cocktail serving, and head to dinner with your love or the gals. But honestly, it's filling enough to eat the Duck Nachos for dinner! Elegant and super delicious. If you pair with wine, a nice dry Pinot or Chardonnay would do the trick as well in addition to your special Retro Cocktail!

For ambiance, I am a huge candle person. There is nothing more elegant than having a lot of candles lit. Create a special corner, either on your existing table, bar, etc. and use your creativity. Head to a discount home furnishings store (I am all for high quality, but for Valentine's, use your budget for year round items!) to find some eclectic décor items, whether a valentine's wine holder, heart shaped nut dish, red and white table décor, etc. You get the picture.

And, get your playlist in order! If you have Alexa, just ask her to play romantic music. If not, here is a suggested playlist for your phone music, wherever it may come from:


Here with Me - Dido
Love Me Tender - Elvis
I Fall to Pieces - Patsy Cline
Let's Get it On - Marvin Gaye
Crash Into Me - Dave Matthews Band
Missing You -- Allison Krauss and John Waite
Crazy Love - Van Morrison
Come Away with Me - Norah Jones
4 in the Morning- Gwen Stefani
Your Body is a Wonderland - John Mayer
Moon Dreams - Miles Davis
All of Me - Billie Holiday
Crazy - Patsy Cline
Temptation - Diana Krall
Better Together - Jack Johnson
Who Makes you Feel - Dido
When you Say Nothing at All - Alison Krauss

Voila. You have the makings of an easy yet sophisticated intimate gathering! As to what to wear, that's another post, but I will say pull out that Little Red Dress!!!

Cheers!!! XOXOXO