Liquid Refreshment at Your Next Celebration

By Georgene Mortimer, Island Winery

Create the perfect drink station to celebrate joyous occasions.

June is the month for hosting joyous celebrations: graduations, showers, weddings and summer vacation! With such wonderful occasions to celebrate, you want to make sure that you provide for all of your guests’ needs without stressing yourself out.

Good planning keeps events fun and stress-free for everyone. A self-service drink station is key to achieving this goal. It keeps your party organized and provides the perfect opportunity to dazzle your guests.

Just like a bar, a drink station is a place where guests will naturally gather, so make it accessible, thoughtfully stocked and eye-pleasing. Locate your drink station in a place that works with the flow of the party setting: not too close to other natural gathering places, such as a food table or any other place that can create a traffic jam. Also, don’t place it too far away from the action of the party.

Wine, spirits, cold beer and non-alcoholic beverages serve as the foundation of a great drink station. Exact selections should be based on your preferences and those of your guests. Have other basics handy as well, such as sliced fruit, a variety of mixers, cups, utensils and plenty of ice.

In addition, a drink station needs a centerpiece. A one-gallon dispenser filled with a wine cocktail artfully displays a delicious, self-serving drink. If you don’t have a one-gallon drink dispenser, no worries: they are easy to find. Prices start as low as $10, so if you are short on storage space, you can either consider it as a disposable party necessity or donate it to a charity that holds fundraisers. Alternately, you can probably borrow one from such an organization. If you entertain regularly and have the storage space, I recommend spending a bit more and purchasing a dispenser with more embellishments.

Now that we’ve agreed on the dispenser, let’s make a delicious cocktail. You can choose from a whole spectrum of wines, liquors, juices, sweeteners, spices and fresh fruit. To ensure your wine cocktail hits the sweet spot for most guests, aim for “off-dry,” which is the perfect compromise between dry and sweet. After all, for those with a sweeter taste, your self-serve drink station will have a bottle of sweet liquor and white grape juice handy.

Whether you choose a base of red, white or blush wine, make sure it is dry. The next choice is your sweetener. This is where you decide whether you want to kick up the alcohol level or tone it down. Kick it up with Triple Sec, Schnapps, flavored rums or vodkas. Tone it down with white grape juice, pineapple or orange juice.

Since your wine cocktail is a focal point, make it enticing with fruits and herbs. Round slices of citrus, chunks of colorful melon, whole berries and sprigs of mint or basil are tasty, attractive additions. Lastly, I recommend against adding ice or sparkling beverages directly into your dispenser. Ice will melt and water down your cocktail, and sparkling beverages will quickly lose their fizz. But, of course, you, the well-organized host, will have these additions easily available at your drink station. Enjoy!

The perfect bottle of hand-crafted artisan wine awaits at Island Winery on Cardinal Rd. Wine by the glass and cheese platters are available Monday-Saturday from 12:30-5:30 p.m. and Sunday from 12-4 p.m. (843) 842-3141 or islandwinery.com.