Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Kel's Golden Birthday: DIY Champagne Bar

At my job, Alumni Reunion Weekend is a pretty big deal and I have to plan on being on campus basically the entire weekend. Unfortunately, Reunion always falls on the last full weekend in June aka, Kelly's birthday weekend. Very sad, indeed.

Last year, I made Kel and all our friends come to the Reunion BBQ which of course eventually led to Tic Tacs at the T-room (should I be proud or embarrassed that the bartender recognized me even though I hadn't been there in 5 years??).

This year, Kel understandably opted out of spending her bday weekend at our alma mater, so we celebrated a week early with cocktails and snacks at her and Adam's place followed by karaoke at Voicebox.

The Drinks
Birthdays call for a little something special so instead of choosing one cocktail to make, I decided to set up a champagne bar with three different options that people could mix themselves.

The three options were:

French 75
- 1oz Gin
- .5oz Lemon Juice
- .5oz Simple Syrup
- Champagne

Rhubarb Sparkler
- 1oz Rhubarb Simple Syrup
- Champagne

Champagne Cocktail
- Sugar Cube
- Dash of Bitters
- Champagne

This was relatively easy to put together since you're just buying all the ingredients with the exception of the rhubarb simple syrup (recipe here), regular simple syrup, and fresh lemon juice.

I think if I did it again, I would choose something different than the Champagne Cocktail. Bowlsby was the only one who tried it and unlike the other two cocktails, you couldn't mix and match its ingredients with the others to create your own cocktail (gin + lemon juice + rhubarb syrup + champagne = much deliciousness). Maybe something like a Bellini would have worked better?

The Food
All credit goes to Doug on this one since he made the food. Kel requested lemon bars and caprese skewers to which we added watermelon & feta bites, fresh fruit (no one ate that), and Kel's and my current favorite Trader Joe's cheese & cracker combination: syrah-soaked Toscana cheese with fig & olive crisps (this has eclipsed our previous favorite: 1000 Day Gouda with rosemary crackers, in case you were wondering).

The Decor
Kel's house is super cute already so there wasn't much work to do here. I made the drink and food signs using this fun free font and gold polka dot washi tape, and added some flowers and a gold banner I bought at my favorite crafty store, Collage, to fancy it up. Easy!

It also makes a difference to put all your champagne bar ingredients in cute containers like the mini milk bottles we used for the simple syrup and lemon juice and the carafe for the rhubarb syrup.

Kel has a huge glassware collection so she set out an assortment of champagne flutes for everyone to choose from. This worked well for keeping track of whose drink was whose- which is especially important for Kel and me since we tend to lose track of our drinks every five minutes or so.

The Karaoke
One of the funnest nights Kel and I have ever had was a spontaneous hour or so of private karaoke at Voicebox after an impromptu Wednesday night bar crawl down 23rd and 21st a few years ago (Kel took care of the singing and I was in charge of back-up dancing and it was the best). Since then, we regularly think "let's go to Voicebox!" after a few too many drinks at Kel's. That plan never works though because Voicebox is either a) closed by that point in the night or b) already booked.

To ensure we didn't run into the same problem, I made a reservation through Voicebox's online system a week prior. Piece of cake!

Note: A tray of Voicebox's Jello shots is that much better when served by Bowlsby.

Cheers to a great bday, Kel!