Happy Hour Essentials- Get inspired!

Categories: Featured Meals, Specials and Inspiration.

My question is,“Who doesn’t love Happy Hour?

It’s that special time of day when after whatever trials you experienced – you get to unwind. And by definition of its name – its a Happy Time, and for Entertaining – it s not a big commitment! So lets talk about Happy Hour and how to make it special with Viva Gourmet.

At Viva Gourmet we believe that using quality ingredients and surrounding yourself with quality people is the key to a Memorable Meal. Happy Hour is no exception!

A few simple gourmet ingredients on hand and a few Viva Gourmet  tips can make  Happy Hour  something special.

First Off -the one thing which is not “essential” to Happy
Hour is alcohol. A well stocked bar should include lots of things ( Click here for List!)

Tip #1- whether you are serving cucumber mint spritzers or classic martinis- Use Nice Glassware! It sets the stage! You can even ask your guests to select the glass which suits them best that particular day. You’ll be surprised how thoughtful folks can be over a cocktail glass.

So you’ve poured a round of libations, a great start, but you need some great snacks. Well, you could open a bag of popcorn- but why not serve truffle pop corn like they do in fancy cocktail lounges?

Truffle salt is like magic pixie dust for your kitchen! Pop a bag of pop corn- use the unadulterated stuff please. Drizzle with a little white truffle oil and then sprinkle with truffle salt. MAGIC.

I also use truffle salt and truffle oil to jazz up Marcona  almonds but  you can use any type nut you like. Toast for a few minutes on a cookie sheet( I use the toaster oven) Then drizzle with truffle oil and dust with truffle salt. You can also add herbs like fresh rosemary. Remember- serve in an interesting serving dish!

Smoked duck breast. I always have one in my refrigerator! This cured and smoked duck breast is all natural and keeps well. Just slice nice thin pieces and serve with fresh sliced apples and cheese. Everyone has an apple and some cheese on hand- the smoked duck makes it Something interesting! It’s a perfect compliment and an interesting addition to a typical cheeseboard.

Balsamic Vinegar–  Believe me there is a huge difference between this and  what is in the grocery or even most gourmet stores. This comes from an award winning vinegar house in Modena Italy. It delicious on a myriad of things but for Happy Hour …put some kettle potato chips on a baking sheet sprinkled with crumbled blue cheese, toast for a few minutes to soften cheese and warm chips. Put on a platter and drizzle liberally with this balsamic! The good balsamic makes all the difference. Of course a wedge of good parmesan with some balsamic is a CLASSIC that can’t be beat.

One more thing to keep on hand which is in the Happy Hour Essentials package is our Genovese Pesto Sauce. This is the real deal from a small producer in Italy with just the essentials- Basil , cheese, garlic, nuts. ( there is also a delicious variety which includes real truffles. Pesto with truffles) For a super quick Happy Hour treat  toss with mini mozzarella pearls or stir a generous spoonful into a block of cream cheese for a quick spread for crackers or vegetables! Check out our RECIPES  for some other ideas.

If you are nervous about throwing a dinner party- start with Happy Hour. In fact, find some invitations and send them out- (with a start and end time). This used to be very common in the 50’s through the 70’s. You can also simplify things by making a “signature cocktail” for everyone instead of trying to please everyone. ( Do something different like an Italian Summer special pictured= see RECIPE. PRETEND you are in Italy on a Summer afternoon- not so hard??)  You can all go out to dinner if you like afterward or everyone can go on their own after unwinding over Happy Hour. Keep the group intimate and whip up some of these easy snacks to make it special.

The most important tip? Keep Happy Hour HAPPY. Of course we all need to unwind and vent – but not for too long. My husband is great at asking questions like “what was the BEST thing that happened today?” to keep the mood lifted.  If  you start getting bogged down in the days troubles, put them behind you, propose a toast to something inspiring, enjoy the company and some fun snacks.



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