Spring Sparklings and Spritzs
WORDS :: CHYKA KEEBAUGH
IMAGES :: LISA ATKINSON
When the sun is shining, there is no place I would rather be than enjoying a drink than outdoors.
Entertaining friends for an afternoon in the sun is one of the greatest joys of spring; it’s the perfect time to take advantage and get out there with a gorgeous drink in hand, a lovely table to sit at and great company to enjoy. But what is tickling your fancy this season? To gather some liquid inspiration, I took myself down to Vintage Cellars to check out their fantastic range of fine wines, Champagne and spirits.
Spring means Spring Racing, and I could not think of a better excuse to invite friends over. I always lean towards something bubbly when entertaining and with so many new labels on offer, I was grateful to be advised by the friendly and knowledgeable staff at Vintage Cellars to help me out with my drinks menu. Creating a little champagne party at home is perfect for mid afternoon in Spring.
A simple but chic outdoor table is all that you need when outdoor entertaining. Stack your table full of great bubbles alongside rows of clean glasses, a collection of champagnes at the ready to pour alongside a few party snacks. Make sure you always have a selection of nibbles on your drinks table, having snacks at the ready and on offer is always a good idea. It doesn’t matter how large or small your gathering, by creating a styled area your guests will feel welcomed and looked after.
Spring Races is all about the picnic, taking yourselves down to the racetrack to enjoy a day on the lawns. Watching the horses, making a few bets and sipping on a few drinks. So why not bring the picnic to your guests? Just because you are entertaining in your home doesn’t mean you can’t style it like a day at the races! Keep it fun, bright and relaxed by styling your table with a picnic rug, basket and gorgeous florals. Keep your menu down to simple finger foods, your drinks down to a nice selection of champagnes and sparkling wines and enjoy your afternoon in the spring sunshine.
Heading to the track? How about having a champagne breakfast to kick start your day. This is such an easy thing to pull together last minute; all you need is a very variety of champagne and/or sparkling wines and pair them with some beautiful fresh smoked salmon, pickles, spinach leaves, crème fraiche, lemon and freshly cut baguette. I like presenting everything on platters heaped with all the fresh ingredients so that my guests can put together their own nibble to suit their taste.
To make this setup look striking and elegant, I like to use accents of gold through my platters and ice bucket; a statement ice bucket is a staple in your barware collection as it can always dress up your display and give it a luxe look. I’ve also kept the floral minimal and sophisticated for this, by just using potted phalaenopsis orchids as a backdrop.
But if champagne and sparkling isn’t your thing, why not create your own aperitivo bar?
There is nothing more inviting than stepping outdoors and spotting a well heeled drinks table. Fine spirits at the ready to make simple, yet delicious drinks, plates laden with cheeses and assorted nibbles - all that you need to make some drinks, grab and snack and start your afternoon off right. I can never go past a beautifully made Aperol or a gin and tonic as a pre dinner tipple. There are many gins to choose from at Vintage Cellars and I love discovering new and exciting labels that I can share at my next party. Simply load your table with glasses, ice, tonic and a garnish of either cucumber, lemon, lime or mint and it’s time to cheers!
Top Tips for Entertaining…
Using seasonal fruits to garnish drinks always brings a pop of colour to your drinks table. Bowls of fruit are fantastic to style with as they can fill your space, create a sense of fruity abundance and can then be used as a garnish.
Giving your guests only a few beverage options means you can go all out on garnishes. For an aperitif station, fresh fruits are a simple and tasty garnish. Sliced citrus, sprigs of mint or rosemary can add depth and flavour to your drinks, so do your research then hit Vintage Cellars with your shopping list.
Simple glassware will always make your aperitif shine! Have two glass sizes available to your guests with an abundance of ice on offer. Ice can be stored in vases, bowls, buckets… at the moment I love using a clear vase to hold the ice, with a rustic ice shovel, it looks impressive styled on the table.
If you are serving a classic gin & tonic, offer a few different gins to your guests. Same goes with any spirit, and there are multiple options out there so let’s support smaller brands and provide a selection. You never know, you may come across your new favourite.
The champagne & sparkling wine labels via Vintage Cellars I used were Mumm Rosé, Champagne France , Moet & Chandon Ice Imperial, Champagne France and Bird in Hand Sparkling Pinot Noir, Adelaide Hills. Indoor setting - Fili Prosecco DOC Extra Dry NV, Veneto Italy, Vallformosa Brut MVSA Cava NV, Alicante Spain, Charles de Cazanove Tradition Brut Vintage, Champagne France and Toques et Clochers Crémant, Limaux France.
For my spirits table I enjoyed Aperol Aperitivo 700ml, Campari Aperitif 700ml, Lillet Blanc Aperitif 750ml , Pampelle Ruby Aperitif 700ml and Hidalgo La Gitana Manazanilla 375ml. The choices of gins for my gin and tonics were Four Pillars Rare Dry Gin 700ml, Citadelle Original Gin 700ml, Poor Toms Strawberry Gin 700ml and Seedlip Spice 94, an incredible distilled non-alcoholic spirit mixed of course with Fever Tree Tonic.