Hosting an engagement party this summer? You're in luck! The comfortable weather, beautiful scenery, and fresh food options will make for a memorable celebration. In order to capitalize on that last point, we talked to a mixologist and two caterers about the best sips and bites to serve at summer engagement party, helping you plan a delicious, seasonal menu. Bon appétit!
Stock the bar with light liquors.
No warm-weather celebration is complete without cold beverages, so strive to servesignature drinks that are light and refreshing. Stock your bar with lighter liquors like vodka, gin, and rum; these suit the season more than heavier liquors like scotch or whisky. The team at Cali Craft Cocktails suggests serving aperitifs and cocktails with a low ABV, which help guests stay safe on a hot day. "Drinking too much in the sun is not a good combination!" their pros says. One of their favorite cocktails for summertime is the "Barefoot," which is made with tequila, lime juice, pineapple juice, and fresh jalapeno.
Remember to have seasonally appropriate mixers—like cranberry juice, lemon-lime soda, orange juice, and fresh and limes—on hand as well. If you prefer wine, supply guests with crisp whites (like Pinot Grigio, Moscato, or Riesling) and light-bodied reds (like Pinot Noir or Merlot). These options are less robust than full-bodied alternatives, making them a welcome reprieve from the summer heat.
Stick with seasonal produce.
When planning the menu for their summertime engagement party, couples should emphasize fresh ingredients and seasonal produce. According to Heikki Rouvinen of Deco Catering, in-season ingredients will liven up any dish. "We like to use seasonal vegetables in salads and main courses as the seasons change. For example, in the summer we use berries in a salad with bleu cheese, maple-roasted walnuts, and raspberry vinaigrette," the pro says.
Peggy Liversidge, owner of Kitchen Chicks Catering & Events, also incorporates many local and seasonal items into her meals. "Our summer menus wouldn't be complete without incorporating two important ingredients that are local to us: Maine blueberries and Maine lobster!" she says, adding that some popular summertime choices are mini lobster roll appetizers, caprese salad sticks, and pan-seared scallops. Following this advice, couples across the country can research seasonal foods in their region, then plan their menu accordingly.
Go for the grill.
Americans associate warm weather with backyard barbecues, so why not incorporate this popular pastime into your engagement party? "In the summer we like to use our grills, with real charcoal, to make grilled beef tenderloin topped with basil butter. We also do grilled and lightly-smoked salmon with lemon pepper served with our signature dill sauce," says Rouvinen. Liversidge also caters grilled items during the summertime, naming beef tenderloin and halibut as popular choices.
Lighten up the desserts.
Just like the alcohol selection, desserts should be light and refreshing instead of heavy and filling. Couples can also incorporate seasonal fruits into the sweets; for example, Liversidge serves mini strawberry shortcakes and blueberry crisps topped with caramel sea salt gelato. Nostalgic summertime treats like 's'mores, ice cream, and popsicles will also be guaranteed crowd pleasers!