Holiday party season is approaching, folks. We have Thanksgiving soon, with the growing-in-trend ‘Friendsgiving’ before. Are you guys doing any Friendsgivings? It’s all we did when we lived in New York because flying home twice a year was so expensive, and trust me, Friendsgiving tends to be low-drama, high fun. I’m going to two in LA and am SO tempted to throw my own, but Brian threatened to actually check me into an institution if I attempted one more thing right now. He’s so boring (and right).
A brand who I love with a product I consume often, IZZE asked me to collaborate on some party and cocktail ideas for this season. So I did what any self-respecting boss does and initiated a mandatory happy hour at the studio where everybody came up with a signature drink (which we put on insta-story a couple weeks ago). The first round was amateur at best, but we honed in on some ideas and with the help of IZZE refined them even further. Turns out being a mixologist is an actual skill and kinda difficult. You’d think that just having a ton of delicious, beautiful ingredients, a good juice drink and booze would be a no-fail, but not necessarily. Don’t worry, though, we locked down three solid drinks for your cocktail-ing pleasure.
The only problem I have with cocktails is that I don’t want to be a bartender all night. So here is what I do (and what I’d suggest you do): Set up three drink stations with everything you need on a tray with glasses and even the recipe.
You do the brain work (well, I did the brain work for you) and you gather the ingredients for your guests, but let them do the labor. That’s my philosophy. Low maintenance, high fun.
So we set up these three drinks for you in a party setting with recipes for you to recreate at home.
The Berry Merry is the drink that is the most festive in color and can be daytime or night-time. It’s so delicious and looks wintery but would be delicious in summer, too. It’s super easy, fun, looks VERY pretty and is extremely delicious. It’s made with IZZE Sparkling Blackberry Juice, gin, muddled blackberry, mint and lime juice. It’s like a blackberry mojito, but with gin and EHD approved.
I’ve always loved the branding of these drinks and have used them in many a bar cart styling shot, so besides tasting delicious you can always actually have them out at your party. We created art direction for this shoot knowing that during the holidays I LOVE bringing in bright reds and pinks (this year, get prepared, there may be a lot of red in my house – both permanently and for the holidays). Point being the IZZE branding and colors work seamlessly in my palette. No decanting, masking or hiding of the mixers needed.
For the glassware we mixed all different clear glasses together – vintage, new, tall, short, fat, skinny – you get it. I really wanted it to feel effortless, and give approachable advice for those of you throwing a casual party.
So no, you don’t have to have 12 sets of glassware – most of us don’t. Mix sets together or even a ton of individuals as long as they have one thing in common – in this case we chose all clear and mostly vintage.
Up next is a slightly more light and fruity cocktail. We called it the Mele Kalikimaka. You will now also have that song in your head like I have since we named it. All day every day. You are welcome.
This one is for you rum drinkers, made with the IZZE Mandarin Lime Sparkling Water – which is organic and has only 10 calories per bottle.
How impressed will your friends be? VERY. And here is the shot without the recipe copy if you are just more interested in the styling:
The last cocktail hails from America’s drink, bourbon/whiskey. Gin is actually starting to take over the cocktail trend, but currently most of our friends go for bourbon for their bigger nights. So we created a New Fashioned for all of you:
I LOVE that shot. This drink has the Sparkling Clementine Juice which I previously drank simply with bourbon, but will admit that adding those other ingredients does make it more delicious, for sure. And while a dash of the maple syrup is what many people loved, I like mine more bitter so I didn’t include. (Another benefit of serve-yourself drink stations: OPTIONS!)
We threw together this wreath with eucalyptus and some berries on a wire wreath form. VERY easy, folks and so pretty. That green against that navy is ridiculous.
These drinks are delicious if I do say so myself. Because of this shoot we have an endless supply at the office and it’s certainly a perk of the job. I love the Sparkling Grapefruit, Clementine and Blackberry the best. The sparkling waters are low in calorie so I try to stick to those during the day if I’m going to drink more than one. My favorite is the Sparkling Raspberry Watermelon.
I have a few more entertaining shoots coming up and I’m starting to feel pretty prepared for holiday parties. For the tablescape above we put the flowers in water glasses to keep them low and easy to see over – then created a few and sprinkled them down the table.
IZZE challenged me with coming up with a cute hostess gift, so we created this bar in a box (although how cute would it be in this suitcase which just didn’t arrive in time for the shoot??). It’s the New Fashioned drink with all the ingredients, plus a cocktail shaker and tools. I’ve only recently started thinking about hostess gifts, but I have to say that this is adorable and something I would be so excited to give and receive.
If you try these drinks let me know what you think, and if you tweak them or invent your own tell us. All of these drinks are delicious as mocktails as well, don’t worry. If you want even more options head to IZZE.com and get one million more recipes and recommendations. And because I know you wanted to see a step-by-step of how to make our favorite:
Get ready. The holidays are always the craziest/best time of the year but hopefully having some drink recipes all done for you will reduce your stress and add to you fun. Low maintenance, high fun. That’s really the only way I can roll these days and it’s working for me (so far).
*This post is in partnership with IZZE, a beverage that we all love and a brand we are happy to be aligned with.
**Photos by Tessa Neustadt