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Dining Al Fresco

Written by: Celia Chen

On a warm summer evening with the night’s sky filled with stars, what could be better than hosting a little dinner party al fresco? Whether on a terrace or roof deck, backyard or beach, finding some outdoor space to commandeer for the night is the first step to planning your event. Then all you need is a group of your favorite people and an effortless summer menu that can be enjoyed in the great outdoors.

Keep the mood festive by setting up a sangria station at your outdoor dinner party. If you are close to the house, use a punch bowl so guests can help themselves. A piece of cheesecloth draped over the bowl will keep out any bugs. For dinners that need to be set up further away, use an acrylic pitcher with a cover for easy transport and serving.

Our Citrus Sangria Punch is a vibrantly colored cocktail filled with slices of oranges, lemons and limes for decoration and extra citrus flavor. Combine Stirrings Sangria Mixer with vodka and Grapefruit Soda for a refreshing tasting beverage to toast the summer season.

Those wanting a non-alcoholic version can simply omit the vodka and add an extra squeeze of lime.

The trick to dining outdoors is to prepare food that isn’t too delicate – items that do not need precision heating or timing and won’t wilt or fall apart in transit. Food that can be transferred from the grill to the plate in an instant is a good choice. Sauces and marinades that are packed with flavor and can be made in advance are recommended.

We recommend serving a Grilled Tuna Loin with Salsa Verde and a Sugar Snap Pea Salad with Mint and Almonds. Both recipes are very easy to prepare but your guests don’t need to know that! The grilled tuna steak is an elegant dish with bright colors and bold flavors while the sugar snap peas have lots of texture and crunch. Place bowls of olives seasoned with chili flakes and olive oil on the table so guests can snack on them before dinner begins.

The great outdoors provides a naturally beautiful backdrop to your dinner party. Think about elements that can enhance what you are already working with. If you have a stunning view, invite guests over to enjoy a cocktail while the sun is setting. Those dining in a garden, should incorporate some of the same flowers into smaller arrangements on the table.
Creating an ambiance with lighting is important, especially since you may be working with almost no light at all when the sun sets. Large candles should be covered by glass hurricanes to protect the flame from the wind. Using gas lanterns to illuminate the bar and key areas of your event will cast a warm glow.

A seasoned event planner and entertaining expert, Celia Chen is the Founder and Editorial Director of Notes on a Party, an online magazine about entertaining that celebrates Events from the Inside Out™. For more inspiration, ideas and tips on party planning, visit www.notesonaparty.com

©2011 Diageo, Norwalk, CT. Please Drink Responsibly.

Ingredients  3 oz Stirrings® Simple Mojito Cocktail Mixer (50 calories) 1.5 oz CÎROC® Coconut (63 calories) Splash of club soda (0 calories) Directions In a cocktail shaker combine Stirrings® Simple Mojito Cocktail Mixer, CÎROC® Coconut vodka and plenty of ice. Cover and shake vigorously. Add Club Soda and mix gently. Pour into a cocktail glass and garnish with a wedge of lime and a sprig of mint.

Add a little sparkle to your sangria with Stirrings® Grapefruit soda. Ingredients 3 oz Stirrings® Simple Red Sangria Cocktail Mixer 1.5 oz Ketel One® Vodka .5 oz Pink Grapefruit Soda Garnish optional: lime wedge Directions Pour ingredients in a highball glass over ice. Stir and garnish with a lime wedge.

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