'Tis the season for cocktail parties, and if you are Kari Morris of Morris Kitchen, this is an easy feat. Her homemade syrups and cocktail mixers bring just the right amount of sweetness and tartness to a spirit. Not that Morris considers herself an expert mixologist.
“To me, it’s more about making it as easy as possible for people to feel like they’re holding a delicious drink and that they had some part of making that happen without having a bartender in front of them.”
We happened to ask her what she likes to serve guests at her own parties right before her own holiday bash. Here are a few takeaways from her bar to yours.
1. Make a punch
Serving a punch not only saves guests from mixing their own drinks, it’s also super festive, says Morris, especially if you create an ice mold to keep it cold. She suggests freezing water in a bundt cake pan, and placing seasonal fruit like cranberries in it or even pine needles, as she did for her own party, then pouring the punch inside the ring in a punch bowl. “It looks beautiful, like a frozen garnish.”
This is recipe for the punch she served in coupe glasses at her party. You can find more ideas here.
- 750ml (25oz) - Sparkling Wine
- 8oz - Morris Kitchen Preserved Lemon Syrup
- 8oz - Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
- 64oz - Vodka
2. Make a batched drink
If you don’t have the time to invest in punch, have at least one pre-made cocktail on hand. Or if you’re doing a punch, create a batched drink with a different spirit to satisfy different tastes. Morris served the following bourbon drink in a rocks glass:
- 1 part Bourbon
- .5 part Amaro, such as Nonino
- .5 part Aperol
- 1 Orange Peel
- 2 Rocks
3. Make your own rocks
Those silicone ice molds have made it easier than ever to create big hunks of ice that keep a drink cold without quickly watering it down, and look gorgeous in the glass to boot. She recommends using Brooklyn-based company W & P Design’s Peak Ice Works trays because of the wire inside the trays that make them easier to release the ice. She also starts making her rocks weeks in advance. “Every morning while making coffee, I refill the trays.” By the time of the party, she has a freezer full. If you’ve got a big party planned with an equally large budget, she recommends hiring Hundred Weight Ice to deliver big ice.
4. Get some good gear
Morris likes Cocktail Kingdom in Chelsea for tools like shakers and bar spoons. And Fish’s Eddy in Union Square is a solid choice for upgrading your glassware.
5. Serve just the standards
Once you’ve settled on a batched drink or punch, offer a streamlined bar for people to pour their own cocktails if they wish. Morris gets crowd pleasers like Bulleit bourbon, Hendrick’s gin, a dark aged rum, Vodka 6100, and a nice Japanese sipping whiskey, as much for the quality as their looks. “They come in beautiful bottles that look nice on the bar,” she said. Ditto Luxardo cherries for one of the garnishes, to which she adds fresh wedges and wheels of lemon, lime and orange, as well as tonic and sparkling water for mixers.
“You should always use a spirit worthy of drinking,” says Morris. “And if you’re going to drink a nice spirit, pair it with a nice mixer that makes the spirit shine.” This is the way she likes to think of her own syrups—as the perfect add-on to “highlight your spriit.”
Check out her entire collection online or in one of our gift boxes.
Photo of Kari Morris at top by Lily Hetzler.