Events and Entertaining, Food & Recipes

Life Hack: Champagne [or Cava!] Cocktail Bar

Fresh Simple Syrups!

Fresh Simple Syrups! Recipes! Champagne! What more could a guest want? O hai Miranda…

An inspired champagne cocktail bar adds to any event worth its weight in – well, champagne [but let’s use Cava if we’re on a budget, shall we?] The display is sure to wow your guests, what with all the bottles, glasses, garnishes, syrups, oh my. Where to start? Well, it’s as easy as 1, 2, 3. [I think… who knows, it may even go to 4 or 5, but the saying goes not… either way, the point is, it’s easy – OKAY?!]

1. The syrups (my li’l ‘tute from last week!). Like I said in my post, you can substitute any fruit you’d like, fresh or frozen, to make these syrups. I tend to enjoy using seasonal fruit, but sometimes find myself using certain fruit to match a color scheme or frozen fruit in a pinch. So if I wanted blue in January, I would use organic frozen blueberries [the best price on these is at Trader Joe’s, that loathsome place that everyone enjoys so much]. The fact that I’m not into Trader Joe’s is one of many bits that’s prevented me from properly and fully matriculating into American society [#whompwhomp]. Some ideas to inspire your boozy libations:

  • peach-ginger
  • plain ol’ ginger
  • blueberry
  • strawberry
  • mango
  • raspberry
  • blackberry
Drunkenness in Wait

Drunkenness in Wait

2. Make at least 3 syrups, then add vodka (Tito’s Handmade – best vodka there is basically and one of the least expensive – $16.99) to one. Mix it one part vodka to one part syrup, and label it “ginger infused vodka” (if you used ginger – if you used something different, obviously label it appropriately; or you could just fuck have a little fun with your guests and label them incorrectly so they think they’re already wasted.)

Actually, that would make a fun game. Don’t label them and have guests guess what type of cocktail they’re drinking. [Does anyone remember back in 1995ish when you could guess the Starburst mystery flavor? Well, chalk it up to my synesthesia, but I guessed it correctly (kiwi-strawberry ftw bitches) and sent away my guess in the mail. To my surprise, I guessed correctly!!! I then received a free package of Starburst candies a few years later in the mail (#thegoodolddays)]

The vodka infused syrup makes the cocktails extra boozy, gives a nice kick and is a good way to stretch your booze budget.

Vodka: Kiss the Ring Bitches

Vodka: Kiss the Ring Bitches

3. Add some accouterment (an accessory item of equipment or dress; often used in the plural.) We’re talking some fruit juices (think concentrated color, for the final presentation of the cocktail):

  • pomegranate
  • blueberry
  • white grape
  • spicy ginger beer (Reed’s)

And some garnishes:

  • sprigs of mint
  • mini fruit skewers
  • lemon and lime wedges
  • maraschino cherries (Tillman ones with no crap in them)
  • edible flowers
  • sugar cubes
  • rosemary sprigs

And that’s all she wrote, folks. There are 3 elements to an amazing make your own champagne cocktail bar.

And I even did it in 3 steps! LEGO! (according to urban dictionary: how black people say “Lets [sic] Go.”) [You heard it here first.]

  1. Infused simple syrups
  2. Booze
  3. Garnish

Now all you party people need to do is top these bad boys off with your favorite white sparkling wine. If you’re going Cava – go extra dry Freixenet ($8.99 – it says $13.99 on but I’ve never seen it for over $10…) or Jaume Serra ($6.49). If you’re going champagne – go Moet ($34.99+). Imperial is good for parties due to price point, but really any Moet [because, c’mon – that shit is just baller.]

Some tips to go that extra mile for your event and your guests:

  • create cocktail recipes and put them near the bar; guests can then choose to go by a recipe that sounds good to them, or freestyle a bit
  • if it’s a higher scale event, hire a bartender and have them pour the guests’ cocktail combo of choice – like Subway, only way classier
  • decant syrups into vintage or otherwise stylish jars and create beautiful custom labels, as shown in the picture at top

Some tips for when you only have time/desire to go the quarter mile:

  • Forget the flute. Use mason jars or inexpensive glasses from ikea (both run $1 each – check out these steals at if you’re on a budget and can’t afford to have half of your stemware broken (I serve a lot of the champs, and am *constantly* purchasing stemware.) For the rare occasion where I just can’t be bothered to break all my shit and/or hand wash a bunch of glasses with a hangover, I just do a small tumbler.
  • Only do 1 syrup. Make it a double batch and add vodka to one. People just love making their own drinks.

And, lastly, a tip for being a considerate, gracious and thoughtful host [the most important tip of all, of course]:

Offer a large tub of still and sparkling mineral waters, pure cane sodas and some separate juices for those in your party who choose not to imbibe. Some of your guests may just not drink (here’s to you Em’ – I’ve already got a plan for you for my birthday party should you be around!), or may just be a designated driver because they don’t feel like killing anyone on the way home. Also, some people would prefer to add some sparkling water to their champagne instead of vodka, to, you know, not end up blacking out and over sharing [you know which category you’re in already – don’t judge yourself – you got invited to a champagne party, so you’re cool either way – treat yo’ self].

If there are kids around, be sure to keep fresh juices and waters in their reach, and keep the bar out of it. Lest you wind up with mini guests who do this:


Pour it Up, Pour it Up

Start feeling like this:

Initially they'll feel like this...

Initially they’ll feel like this…


…but I’ve found that almost all children turn out to be angry drunks…

...and are privy to delusions of grandeur...

…and are privy to delusions of grandeur.

And they may even wake up like this:

"wtf did I say/do last night? where is my shirt? shiiiiit..."

“wtf did I say/do last night? where is my shirt? shiiiiit…”

Or even worse, like this:

#fml - someone needs an egg sandwich

#fml – someone needs an egg sandwich

In closing, keep the spirits (and your spirits) high!

Happy Party!




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