As I’m sure you have heard the saying, “A party really isn’t a party without a good beverage to enjoy!” Being both the City Girl and Southern Belle that I am, I could not agree more. There is just something about an alcoholic beverage that makes a party feel more festive, more fancy and more adult like. However, over the past couple of weeks I’ve had to take step back and revaluate my thought process on having the occasional beverage…I am in a new community surrounded by new people who may not have the same thought process when it comes to consuming alcohol. While I am personally convinced that there is nothing wrong with having an alcoholic beverage if you are of legal age, it is important to be mindful of your friends and guests who would not typically partake in a festive beverage by ensuring that there are non-alcoholic beverage options available. As a host you do not want to inadvertently create a divide in your guests who are drinking alcoholic and those who are not. So in the spirit of creating a more inclusive atmosphere for your next party here are TWO NEED TO KNOW TIPS on how to offer celebratory beverages for both the drinker and non-drinker!
1. Know Your Substitutes– So you maybe thinking about one of your favorite drinks and how to make it non alcohol friendly?! Well, to my surprise it is much easier than I was anticipating. Simply know the correct substitutions for the alcohol and replace it using 1:1 ratio(s).
- Beer: Nonalcoholic Beer, White Grape Juice, Ginger Ale
- Cognac: Peach, Pear, or Apricot Nectar or Juice
- Sake: Rice Vinegar
- Tequila: Cactus Juice or Agave Nectar
- Vodka: White Grape Juice Mixed with Lime.
I would suggest that you give yourself plenty of preparation time as you may need to adjust the beverage accordingly to make it taste super yummy. Oh yes, if your drink recipe requires any fruit, be sure to cut it the night before and soak it in Sprite, 7 Up or any type of lemon lime soda. This little trick will make the fruit even sweeter!
2. Make It Jazzy– While this is sad to admit, but I am a sucker for a beverage that is all dressed up with garnish and has a cute name! And I know that I am not the only one who feels this way. LOL. When serving non-alcoholic beverages make it jazzy! Give it a cute name so it sounds way more interesting than really is! Also, do not be afraid to add unusual garnishes as it makes the drink even more appealing. Remember, people enjoy festive beverages because it creates atmosphere! Here are a few different ways you can dress up your drink:
Chocolate and Sprinkles
And there you have it my friends…two easy tricks that can help you have the most rocking soiree with the best beverages! Jason and I are having a house warming party very soon and I am excited to give these tips a whirl myself. I am going to attempt to make a non-alcoholic version of the ever famous Raspberry Beer Cocktail! Fingers crossed : )
One of the things that I found most exciting about moving to NYC was knowing that there would be endless food options! On any day, at any time you can find something delicious to bite into. However, that does not mean that you can just pop into any restaurant that you come across. Considering the vast number, variety and $$$, I have found it extremely important to do a little research prior to trying a new restaurant in the Big Apple (nothing is more embarrassing than taking a seat at a rather lovely place to only find out that you cannot afford it..real bummer and yes, this has happen to me!).
So, I must admit…I’m “that girl” who has a running of list of places to try as I come across them while wondering around the city, but I always make sure that I have the inside scoop prior to making my first visit. Since sharing is caring, I thought it would be groovy and helpful for me to share some on my NYC Restaurant Favs!
1. Westville– Love, Love, Love Westville. I must say everything that I have tried at this place is amazing! One thing they are known for is their market sides! 4 market sides for $15. You cannot beat that and not to mention that everything is cooked to perfection. A great place to try if you’re looking for good ole comfort food in an unusual way with an extremely affordable price tag. I do not think I’ve spent more than $25 bucks there and in New York..that’s kinda of a big deal! http://www.westvillenyc.com
2. Good– As one could imagine…good is GOOD! My absolute favorite brunch location in all of New York City! Lemon flavored pancakes with minted strawberries, spicy hasbrowns, scrambled eggs, bacon and a delightful glass of processo and peach schnapps. I mean what more could a girl ask for on a Saturday afternoon?! Nine times out of ten you will be greeted by the one and only Oscar who runs the host station and knows all of “the usuals” by name! Great location with great atmosphere. Be sure to go hungry because they give nice portions which makes the price tag completely worth it! Oh how I love Good…I think I’ll go this weekend. http://www.goodrestaurantnyc.com
3. Vynl– In the heart of Midtown, Vynl is great place to take your friends to who are visiting NYC for the first time! Personally, I think Vynl’s decor and atmosphere is the epitome of what people think of when they imagine a restaurant in New York City! Vynl is an Asian-American fusion cafe that has a fun menu along with a very special surprise in each restroom…and that’s all that I can say! You must go and check it out for yourself. http://www.vynl-nyc.com
4. Southern Hospitality– Who doesn’t love Justin Timberlake?!? Well, if you don’t I am pretty sure you would still love his restaurant, Southern Hospitality, located on 45th Street and 9th Ave. I would venture to say if you’re not from New York and don’t particularly care for “swank” dining, yet have no desire to eat at a chain then this is the place for YOU! The menu is primarily Memphis style BBQ. The prices are a couple of bucks higher than your typically Applebee’s or TGIF’s, however the menu is NO COMPARISON. I encourage you try either the BBQ Chicken Chopped Salad or the Buffalo Chicken Mac & Cheese….sooooo yummy. Or for an appetizer try the Jalapeño Macaroni & Cheese Spring Rolls. No words can describe for how stinking good they are. http://southernhospitalitybbq.com/hk/
5. Eatery NYC-Looking for upscale but with an affordable price tag and friendly waiters? This is your place! While I have a had a few dinners at the Eatery, I think it is an exceptional location for drinks, desserts and conversation! Also, located in Midtown the Eatery offers flavorful sorbets and cheesecakes! Need I say more? You just need to go. The atmosphere is perfect. http://www.eaterynyc.com
6. Jane– Now if you are in the mood for the ultimate dining experience, then you should take a trip down to Greenwich village to have an evening at Jane! Great atmosphere and spectacular food. Last time I was there I had their spaghetti with a wonderful chardonnay wine sauce topped with cherry tomatoes and arugula. Oh my goodness good! Also, their steak frites are quite yummy. Seasoned to perfection and tender. This is the perfect place for a swank yet casual date night with the boo! http://janerestaurant.com
7. The Cafeteria– OMG, OMG, OMG…I LOVE THE CAFETERIA. Have you ever heard of a floral cocktail? I hadn’t until my first dining experience at the Cafeteria and it was amazingly delightful and very floral! However, it was the delicious selection of assorted mac and cheeses, fried oreos and red velvet cake in a jar that sold me on this place! Oh yes, and the super swank restrooms. A great restaurant with lots of crazy energy and people! P.S. The buffalo chicken mac and cheese is the best ! http://www.cafeteriagroup.com
8. Shake Shack– Remember the lunch spot that Ethan and Rachel went to everyday in the movie Something Borrowed? Well, guess what? This is it…the Shake Shack! I am kinda a sucker for hamburgers, grilled hotdogs and fries, which makes the Shake Shack a favorite of mine. You can never go wrong with a shack burger and an order of fries.. Will cost you about $8.00 and it’s pretty awesome! Also, they are known for their assortment of custards although I have never tried one. Oh yes, important detail about the Shake Shack: Don’t go when you are seriously hungry. Not because the food isn’t good, but the lines are always crazy long especially at the Theater District and Madison Square Park locations. I would encourage you take a gander to the Upper Westside or Eastside locations…there’s never a long line and I mean NEVER. http://www.shakeshack.com
9. Bangkok Tasty– Well, Bangkok Tasty isn’t in Manhattan, but Astoria! For those of you who don’t know..I live in Astoria and it is the BOMB.COM. Anywho, Bangkok Tasty is a super legit Thai restaurant that makes the most amazing Thai style lo mein noodles I have ever had in my life! And here’s the best part…THEY DELIVER. So as you can imagine Bangkok Tasty takeout happens quite often for Apt 42. In addition to their awesome delivery service, they also have a great dine in option in a little space close to Ditmars Blvd off of the NQR train. Really awesome Thai food that is worth the train ride to try 🙂 http://www.bkktasty.com
And there you have it my loves…a few of my NYC restaurant favs! Do you have any suggestions you would like to share? If so, drop a comment in the box below! I would love to give them a whirl. Happy eating friends : )
As we already know planning a wedding is almost every girl’s dream! You come from the womb believing that this fairytale will become a reality. However, as that day drawers near you begin to face “real reality”. You question who your TRUE friends are, how much you can REALLY AFFORD to spend and the purpose behind CELEBRATING…is it just another social gathering or a day to celebrate the union between you and your soon-to-be spouse? These are just a few of the thoughts I have had in this planning process. With the help of my level headed fiancé and lots of prayer for patience pants we were able to weed through things like this during the earlier stages of planning after my almost mental wedding breakdown!
Strike 1: Oh glorious plantation…NOT. As most you can probably imagine I wanted a very lavish and elegant wedding. After all I do love social gatherings and spectular fashion so naturally the glam-esque wedding concept is what I gravitated towards first! Shortly after visiting a few possible venues, I soon realized that a Kim Kardashian wedding was not going to work for the budget as Jason and I were paying for the majority of the expenses with some help from our families. I must admit I was tad depressed to learn that my dreams of having a glamorous plantation wedding was simply out of the question. I tried to crunch the numbers every way humanly possible, but it just was not there. I mean $5,000 for a venue is not exactly chump change and to be completely honest I don’t think that your average bride cannot really afford to spend that kind of money unless momma and daddy are footing the bill entirely and even then that price point could be a stretch. Anywho, to make a long story short…Pebble HIll Plantation would not be the venue for the Howard/Read wedding.
Strike 2: The magical guest list. I am sure that one could already assume that I had pretty high expectations for a large guest list and not to mention…I’m from the South and Southern folks don’t play about their invitations to major life event for people that they know. Doesn’t really matter if we know that person on a surface, superficial level or have known them for a lifetime…it’s just a natural expectation. And I must say I am southern belle that likes to follow all of the traditional rules! However, in my pursuit to host an event that was not only amazing, but affordable put immediate limitations on the number of guest I could invite, which made me very uncomfortable. Especially considering the large number of friendships and relationships I had cultivated with folks from various phases in my life. Yet again, I found myself crunching numbers trying to make things work out as I had imagined, but guess what? To no avail. In the words of my granddaddy, “money doesn’t grown on trees,” although I was sure trying hard to plant one in the back yard. Also, in the beginning phases of planning of our wedding, I was in the middle of a huge life transition to New York City, which isn’t exactly the cheapest city in the world where I would be attending one of the most expensive private institutions ever…so my number crunching did not only include wedding expenses but life survival for the big apple! To survive or to have a fabulous wedding..I think survival!
Strike 3: Learning to share the wedding dream so the day reflects US and not just me! Frustration had really set in at this point in time. I can remember trying to explain things to Jason and he would be matter of fact with me, which made me a not so happy camper! I just did not understand why he did not understand my point of view about things. Of course I thought that my perception on wedding planning was the only way it could/would be done for this girl. Proven wrong. Unlike most grooms, Jason actually wanted to play a role in planning process, which is a dream come true/pain in the butt as most of us gals want the day to be all about “ME” and rightfully so. It is one of the few days in your life that you get to a princess! However, a princess cannot rule a kingdom without the help of her prince charming. Besides…sharing is caring!
The Home Run: After a rather long FaceTime come to Jesus meeting with Jason we were able resolve most of the gray areas! We set a budget of $10,000 and decided that we would make it work to the best of our abilities. And I am proud to say that we have! Granted our families have chipped in to cover major cost like photography, the bar, florals and things of that nature, otherwise we’ve covered it! Although this is not the wedding I had initially dreamed of, I am sooo thrilled as to how it has evolved! To be honest I love it 200% more than what I had originally envisioned for this day. It will indeed be lovely!
So I share all of this to remind my brides and fairytale dreamers to remember these 3 things as your big day approaches:
1. Be Realistic. It will make the process much easier. Especially the budget part.
2. Include Him. Even though he may say that he does not care still ask him his opinion! He will appreciate the fact that you value his input.
3. Enjoy. This is one day of your forever! So marvel in it. Don’t sweat the small stuff.
Cheers to wedding season as it is now in full swing!
P.S. In May Live, Love and Read will be wedding central! I’ll be posting lots of groovy things to help you and your friends! Also, we’ll have a guest blogger that month! Get excited.