A Case for Reviving the In-Home Cocktail Hour

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"It's after six! What am I? a Farmer?"

Jack Donaghy, 30 Rock

Our imbibing definitely increased after marriage (don’t read too much into that), but we weren’t necessarily interested in the process, the history, the true artistry of a craft cocktail, beer, tea, etc. Interest and intention came about 5 to 6 years ago when The Imperial, Sanford’s first craft cocktail bar opened on First Street. And at that time most of our drinking was done at a restaurant or bar, and our home bar life was nonexistent. 

Enter stage-left, a bubbly and wise-beyond-her-years Imperial barback, now dear friend, costume-maker, and blogger Honest Millennial. Our mutual love of Mad Men and interest in the classic Martini laid a foundation for what we call Martini Mondays - the catalyst for our revival of the in-home cocktail hour. However, in full disclosure, due to that same love of Martinis and excellent convivial conversation it was more like hours.

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But our goal of gathering with friends over a cocktail for good conversation, as we wanted to believe Don and Betty Draper would have done, had been achieved. And after a Monday at the office it was a good way to end the day.

As we are a little older now and Tuesday mornings come a little sooner, we haven’t been able to Martini Monday like we used to. But the Mr. and I still make time for a quick drink and a chat a couple times a week after work.

And thus, I’ve put together some reasons to establish a cocktail hour at home and tips to make it easy, efficient, and extra enjoyable from what we’ve learned through our own experience. Lemme break it down for you:

4 Reasons to Establish an In-Home Cocktail Hour

  1. Connect. Whether you’re including a few friends or it’s just you and the Mr. or Mrs., the cocktail hour is a great time to connect. Chat about your day, share highlights, share dreams, play a game of Charades or Uno. Whatever you do, just get off your phone! Put away the digital devices and be present. The Mr. and I have had many interesting conversations and some of the best ideas have been spurred on by a cocktail. And if you’re including some friends in your hour, this is a great time to bring new acquaintances into the fold. 
     
  2. Relax. Perhaps you’ve had a hectic day. Maybe your in-laws are coming to visit soon. A cocktail hour is an opportunity to breathe. Instead of rushing into dinner, errands, or chores after work, pause for a bit to enjoy life and a good drink.
     
  3. Learn. To enjoy a good drink you must learn to make one. The simpler, the better. Martini Monday was not only good alliteration, it simplified the event with a 2 or 3 ingredient classic cocktail. We have since honed the craft of making a Martini and feel comfortable enough to experiment with it. The Old Fashioned, a Gin and Tonic, an Amaro and soda, or just a bourbon-neat are good places to start. From there, you can get a feel for what you’d like to add to your home bar.
     
  4. Save on cost and time. We love going out for a good cocktail. We love different bar atmospheres and the conversations we have. But the cost can quickly add up and one drink out usually turns into two or three drinks out - because, well, you’re out. Before you know it, five hours have gone by and you need to get up at 6:30 the next morning. Oh, and you haven’t had dinner yet. A once or twice a week in-home cocktail hour is way more cost effective and you won’t necessarily let time slip away all willy-nilly. Invest in a bottle or two of liquor that you like and if you’re inviting friends over for your hour, ask them to bring a bottle or pick up any garnishes you might need.

4 Things to Keep in Mind for Your In-Home Cocktail Hour

  1. It’s not a cocktail party. Remember your cocktail hour is different than throwing a cocktail party. The hour is more intimate and casual, much shorter, less expensive, and is for your relaxation and enjoyment. 
     
  2. It doesn’t have to be boozy. We certainly like to be conscious of our health and how much we imbibe. Instead of having a cocktail, sit and enjoy a sparkling water on the porch. Or experiment with low ABV concoctions. Maybe you and a few friends are kombucha brewers - get together and swap your brews for an hour.
     
  3. Enjoy it, but have a time limit. As I mentioned above we really celebrated Martinis and conversation for hours on end at our Martini Mondays with friends. This didn’t always feel so good Tuesday morning. One of our friends suggested setting a timer for when the hour needed to end.
     
  4. Have a snack. There’s no need to get fancy, a bowl of nuts is all you need, maybe a simple cheese and crackers. Don’t ruin your supper with heavy apps. It also pays to keep it simple to limit a mess in the kitchen.
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Of course these are just my suggestions and how you ultimately celebrate your hour is up to you and your preferences. Put your own twist on it. Maybe you play an Exotica record for a light tiki drink, or maybe this is a good quiet time to do devotions and prayer. Maybe set up a continuous game of Monopoly and play for an hour with friends once a week. The most important thing is to enjoy the time and drink of your choice. Cheers!