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A Host's Guide To Cocktail Hour

As I shared in this post I was treated to an amazing evening at the home of Lee Cox and his incredible hosting skills.  His bar was perfectly stocked, it was styled perfectly and the entire cocktail hour was truly magical.  One of my favorite things about having cocktail hour at his house before dinner was the combination of the music, the wonderful drink and the yummy cheese tray and popcorn.

The most amazing part of the story is that he has moved into the house the week before.  The house was perfectly set, all the art hung, walls painted and details managed. One week ... and was working for clients the entire time.  I was amazed and awed at his ability to do it all and not look like he was about to fall over from exhaustion. That is the sign of a true gifted host.

The bar was laid out perfectly, included everything you would need for a perfect cocktail and included sliced citrus to accompany any drink.  I chose a vodka + cranberry + lime and my cute photographer chose a vodka + soda + lemon.  They were perfect.

I asked Lee to share his thoughts on stocking a bar.  He told me to first and foremost know your guests, do some research and know what they prefer. If they only drink wine you need to make good selections but if they are enjoy a mixed drink he recommends his four favorites; vodka, gin, tequila and scotch.  He adds in small cans of mixers and chooses a mix of tonic, club soda, Coke, Sprite and ginger ale.  He remembers his grandfather always ordering a Dewars and Seltzer and it is one of the choices you will find at his bar. Adding in fresh cut citrus (limes, lemons and grapefruit) not only completes the cocktails but makes for a beautiful display.

When we moved to the appetizer table we were greeted with a few selections of Sweet Grass Dairy cheeses, crackers, pecans and paired jams.  Each of them were so delicious and as I said before I could have eaten every single bit.  Cheese is my love language ... it just makes the perfect any time snack (or meal).  This was the first time I have experienced Sweet Grass Dairy cheese but I can tell you it won't be the last time.  I tried to purchase some on Sunday and we left the area before they opened.  I will be purchasing online for my next cocktail hour, this cheese is truly delicious!

Lee shared with me he selected the Green Hill, Thomasville Tomme and Cypress.  He paired it with two crackers, pecans and two Blackberry Patch jams.  I will say it one more time ... I could have eaten every single bite!

And then there was the popcorn.  It was one of those things that you think ... oh, I will just have a few to be polite.  Then when no one else is looking it becomes a whole handful.  Then you find yourself trying to decide if telling others its not very good would work or if it is better to just hold the whole bowl so no one will attempt to share.

It was so very good.

I asked Lee if he would share his thoughts on stocking a bar, what he feels are the most requested mixers and garnishes, and, drum roll please, his recipe for the delicious and addictive popcorn.

Mallards Nest Popcorn ... 

Start with simple microwave popcorn, nothing added in or fancy, Lee recommends Publix brand plain popcorn.  Pop 2 bags and then let it sit and cool in the microwave and allow all the steam to settle.  In a saute pan melt a 1/2 stick of Kerry Gold butter, a small amount of Pecan Ridge oil and a teaspoon of minced garlic.  When melted and the flavors have blended split the mixture into two measuring cups.  Mix one of the measuring cups in the bowl of popcorn and toss well.  Add a dash of salt.  Just before serving add in the remaining measuring cup, toss again and finish with fresh chopped parsley.  


If you need a fun addition to your regular cheese tray or favorite appetizer this popcorn is perfect.  It is delicious ... and now I am craving it!

Have the best Friday ... we are heading home late today and I truly have loved our time away in Orlando this week!  Just what this mama needed!

Images by Kristen Hechler

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