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Set the Bar

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Mitchell Crosby (left) with partner Randall Felkel; Justin Edgar’s take on Pimm’s Cup; photographs (2) by Peter Frank Edwards

July 26, 2017

Set the Bar
Refreshing sips and party planning tips from event pro Mitchell Crosby

In our July issue, event planning expert (and Charleston entertaining style editor) Mitchell Crosby delivered the details for a summer brunch for 10, sharing his industry expertise, recipes, and tricks for keeping your cool during a warm-weather affair. For help behind the bar, he enlisted his friend Justin Edgar, manager and sommelier at Cannon Green, who created a tasty twist on a classic Pimm’s Cup with fresh strawberry ice cubes. “It’s citrusy and a bit spicy and lower in alcohol—so refreshing, perfect for a midday tipple,” says Crosby.

Justin Edgar’s Strawberry Pimm’s Cup
(Serves 1)
Note: “If you’re entertaining a crowd, batch the first six ingredients into large pitchers and chill in the refrigerator. Pour over strawberry ice cubes and top with ginger ale.”

  • 2 oz. Pimm’s No. 1
  • 1 lemon wedge
  • 1 lime wedge
  • 1 orange wedge
  • 2 cucumber wheels
  • 4 mint leaves
  • Ice
  • 4 oz. ginger ale
  • 4 strawberry cubes (recipe follows)
  • Fresh mint, for garnish

Place first six ingredients in a cocktail shaker and mash with a muddler. Add a scoop of ice and shake vigorously. Strain into a Collins glass lined with sliced fruit (lemon, lime, orange). Add strawberry cubes and top with ginger ale. Garnish with fresh mint.

For the strawberry ice cubes:
(Yields 15 1.25-inch cubes)

  • 1 pint ripe strawberries, rinsed and stems removed
  • 1 cup water

Place berries in a blender and add water. Blend until smooth. Using a chinois or fine mesh strainer, strain liquid into a measuring cup to remove seeds and pulp. Pour the juice into ice molds and freeze.

Mitchell’s Tips:
Hire a pro. If you’re hosting a number of people beyond a few friends, Mitchell always suggests a bartender. “They can help you set up, break down, and keep an eye on those who have had a bit too much to drink.”

Have nonalcoholic options. “At chef José Andrés’s restaurant Zaytinya in Washington, D.C., I recently enjoyed a drink featuring elderflower, mint, lime, and club soda and garnished with skewered ribbons of cucumber. So very delicious!”

Separate food and drink. “Placing the bar in an open place away from the food always works. This creates an ebb and flow throughout the spaces,” he advises.

Set up the night before. “Add ice and go is my mantra.” And always have extra ice in coolers and backup wine and beer in the fridge.

Offer a small snack. “Think cheese wafers, especially the perfect ones with the pecan in the center, or cheese straws, or slightly spicy pecans. My mother roasts hers with garlic salt and Worcestershire. Sublime.”

Chill out. If the bar is outside, “Hide an oscillating fan in the shrubs so that when your guests are requesting libations, they have a cooling moment.” Another cool trick: frozen wash cloths. “I picked this up from Ivan Goldberg, a D.C. event planner who is from Charleston. Simply roll the cloths, soak in water, spray with rose water, and freeze overnight. Offering them to guests as they sit for dinner or as the party heats up is a nice touch. Make it your own.”

For more of Crosby’s tips and recipes, click here.