Sparkling Cocktails and Tasty Appetizers

These recipes will make any party elegant and effortlessly effervescent

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Petal Power: Hibiscus Royale

A single crimson blossom soaked in syrup gives this bubbly cocktail its drama-queen status. The grace note: a lacing of elderflower liqueur.

Makes 1 drink

 

1 hibiscus flower in syrup (from an 8.8-ounce, 11-flower jar of Wild Hibiscus Flowers in Syrup)*

1 teaspoon hibiscus syrup

4 ounces sparkling rosé, chilled

1 tablespoon St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur

 

Place the hibiscus flower and syrup in a Champagne flute or tall white-wine glass. Slowly add the sparkling rosé, and top off with the elderflower liqueur.

*Available at wildhibiscus.com or gourmet grocery stores.

 

This drink is from Kim Haasarud, author of 101 Champagne Cocktails.

Photo: Kenji Aoki

Spoon Fed: Mango Salsa with Calamari Rings

Asian soupspoons let your cocktail party repertoire venture beyond traditional finger foods. Here, each spoon serves a mouthful of fruity salsa tweaked with jicama, cumin and cilantro and topped with sautéed calamari rings.

Makes 20 appetizers

 

Salsa

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 small ripe mango, peeled and finely diced

1 small red onion, peeled and finely diced

1/2 small jicama, peeled and finely diced

2 tablespoons minced cilantro, plus extra for garnish

Juice of 1 lemon

Salt

 

Calamari

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 pound calamari rings, about 1/2 inch thick

Salt and pepper

20 Asian soupspoons

 

1. To make the salsa: Place a small skillet over medium heat. Add the cumin. Dry-roast for about 30 seconds, shaking spice frequently until fragrant. Remove from heat immediately. Grind in a spice grinder. Combine the cumin and remaining salsa ingredients, except salt, in a bowl. Mix well. Add salt to taste. Cover, and refrigerate until ready to serve. Salsa can be prepared up to 6 hours in advance.

2. To make the calamari: Heat a large skillet over high heat. Add the oil. When it shimmers, add the calamari rings. Sauté for 1 to 2 minutes, until the calamari are just cooked through. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

3. Divide the salsa evenly among the soupspoons. Top each with calamari. Pour any juice over the rings. Garnish with minced cilantro.

Photo: Kenji Aoki

Leaf Bed: Endive with Citrus Salad

Each sturdy, bite-size endive leaf holds a spoonful of sliced blood orange and sliced grapefruit. Red radishes deliver crunch and a peppery tang. The salad’s fresh, bright flavors come together in a lemony dressing spiced with jalapeño and mint.

Makes 24 appetizers

 

1 small grapefruit

1 small blood or navel orange

2 small red radishes, trimmed and diced

1 small jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced

2 tablespoons finely chopped mint leaves

2 tablespoons lemon juice

Pinch of salt

1 tablespoon honey

24 large, sturdy endive leaves

 

1. Supreme the citrus: Remove the grapefruit and orange peels. With a small sharp paring knife, segment the fruit, leaving behind the inner membrane. Cut each segment into 6 pieces, and place in a bowl.

2. Add the remaining ingredients except the honey and endive. Mix well. Cover, and refrigerate for about 2 hours to allow the flavors to blend. Before serving, allow the mixture to come to room temperature. Drain off the juice. Warm the honey slightly (for a few seconds in the microwave) so that it’s runny, and stir it into the salad. Taste, and adjust the salt.

3. Arrange the endive leaves on a platter. Using a teaspoon, evenly divide the salad among the leaves. (Each leaf should get a generous teaspoonful.)

Photo: Kenji Aoki

Fire and Ice: Berry-Chile Fizz

Jalapeño pepper muddled with mint and sugar kicks up the heat in this spicy mojito. Stir in fresh lime juice, a (very) generous shot of rum, ice and club soda, and you won’t care whether it’s hot or cold outside.

Makes 1 drink

 

3 fresh mint sprigs

1 slice fresh jalapeño pepper

1 tablespoons sugar

1 lime, halved

2 ounces light rum

Club soda, chilled

Cranberries for garnish

 

In a pint glass, muddle 2 of the mint sprigs, the jalapeño and sugar. Squeeze both halves of the lime into the glass, leaving a slice in the mixture. Add the rum, stir, and fill with ice. Top off with the club soda, and garnish with a mint sprig and a few whole cranberries.

This is from Kara Newman, author of Spice & Ice.

Photo: Kenji Aoki

Peas O’Cake: Wonton Crunch

It doesn’t get much easier, or more delicious, than this: Mash peas with parsley, spices and ricotta, then fold into ready-made wonton wrappers. Bake. Devour.

Makes 24 appetizers

 

1 cup cooked peas

1/4 cup ricotta cheese

1 jalapeño pepper, minced

1 tablespoon minced parsley

1 tablespoon chopped scallion

1/2 teaspoon minced ginger

Salt

24 wonton wrappers

1 egg white, lightly beaten

Cooking spray

 

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.

2. Lightly mash the peas. Add the ricotta, jalapeño, parsley, scallion and ginger, and mix well. Add salt to taste, about 1/4 teaspoon.

3. Lay out the wonton wrappers on a work surface. Place 1 rounded teaspoon of the pea filling in the center of each. Lightly brush the edges of the wrappers with egg white. Fold over to form a triangle (or if using round wrappers, a half-moon). Press the edges with the tines of a fork, gently, to secure the seam so the filling does not fall out. Place the wontons in a single layer on the baking sheet. Spray them lightly with cooking spray. Bake for 3 to 4 minutes. Flip the wontons, and bake on the other side for another 3 to 4 minutes until they are crisp and golden brown.

Photo: Kenji Aoki

Pom de Nuit: Ginger Bubbly

The earthy rhizome inspires and transforms this festive potion. A splash of pomegranate juice supplies the blush. Make it with candied ginger and ginger liqueur and top with Champagne. Drink, drink and be merry.

Makes 1 drink

 

1 ounce Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur

Sugar for rimming, preferably sanding sugar*

1 slice candied ginger, for garnish

1 ounce pomegranate juice

4 ounces brut Champagne or sparkling wine, chilled

 

Rim a Champagne flute by dipping the edge in the ginger liqueur and then in the sugar. Place a sliced coin of candied ginger at the bottom of the flute. Add the ginger liqueur and pomegranate juice to a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake until well chilled. Strain into the prepared flute. Top off with the Champagne or sparkling wine.

*This large-grain sugar can be found at baking-supply stores.

This recipe is from Maria Hunt, author of The Bubbly Bar.

Photo: Kenji Aoki

Pink Shot: Roasted-Beet Soup

The hit in this soup-served-in-a-shot-glass comes from the unexpected beet, coriander and coconut milk combo. You can prepare the mix ahead of time and garnish it at the last minute with chopped chives and toasted coconut flakes.

Makes 16 shot-glass appetizers

 

1/2 teaspoon white pepper, plus more for seasoning

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 teaspoon salt, plus more for seasoning

1 tablespoon ground coriander

2 medium red beets, trimmed, scrubbed, peeled and halved (about 1 pound)

1 1/2 to 2 cups chicken broth

1/2 cup coconut milk

Finely chopped chives or toasted unsweetened coconut flakes for garnish

 

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Combine teaspoon white pepper, the oil, 1 teaspoon salt and the coriander in a large bowl. Add the beets, and mix well to coat. Place the beets and marinade on a large piece of aluminum foil. Wrap tightly to keep steam from escaping.

2. Place the foil packet on a rimmed baking sheet, and bake for about 50 minutes or until the beets are soft and cooked through. Allow to cool to room temperature. Unwrap, and scrape the beets and marinade into a blender. Add the broth. Puree until smooth. Taste, and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Soup can be made ahead up to this point and reheated.

3. Pour into 16 small heatproof glasses. Swirl tablespoon of the coconut milk into each glass. Garnish with chives, coconut flakes or both.

Photo: Kenji Aoki

Sea Treat: Ginger and Honey Shrimp

This grilled app is easy to make, but the flavors are complex, thanks to a rich marinade of fresh ginger, chile flakes, honey, garlic and lemon.

Makes about 24 appetizers

 

1 tablespoon honey

1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger

1/2 to 1 teaspoon red chile flakes

1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon minced garlic

1 pound large shrimp, peeled, with tails on

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Salt and pepper

 

1. In a large bowl, combine the honey, ginger, chile flakes, lemon juice and garlic. Mix well. Add the shrimp; toss to coat. Cover, and refrigerate for an hour.

2. Set a grill pan over high heat. Add the oil and shrimp. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes, then flip over. It should take just another minute for the shrimp to turn pink and be fully cooked (but not overcooked). Add salt and pepper to taste.

 

This article first appeared in the December 2010/January 2011 issue of More.

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Photo: Kenji Aoki

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