We like playing the host, but we have to admit that throwing a holiday party still scares us a little. To make the season less stressful, we got expert advice, tips and recipes from bon vivant and celebrity chef Rick Bayless. Enjoy!
“I am in love with this Roasted Tomatillo Guacamole with Crunchy Chicharrón,” Bayless says of the recipe in his new book, Frontera: Margaritas, Guacamoles, and Snacks. “Getting a bit of the hot sauce and queso añejo in every bite is my favorite part.” Plus, you can prepare it ahead of time.
Be sure you have plenty of cider for your guests. “Hard ciders are perfect for holiday entertaining,” Bayless says. And “always have bitters on hand and some of your favorite aperitifs: Mine are Aperol and Cocchi Americano.”
Fix Cocktails by the Pitcher:
“The Sparkling Ginger Margarita is perfect and my go-to drink,” Bayless says. “I love the mixture of the ginger syrup and the sparkling wine—it is such a celebration.” Even better: It makes enough for eight people, and the prep work and muddling can be done hours in advance.
Go Outside the Box:
Set the holiday mood by pouring some exotic spirits. Bayless recommends tracking down a pine liqueur (Leopold Bros. Three Pins Alpine Herbal Liqueur is a fine one). “It’s like pine trees—the aromatics of it,” the chef says. “I know it sounds crazy, but it is crazy good.”
“I get anything and everything done prior that I can,” Bayless says. But don’t forget about styling your dishes and drinks. “Creating interesting garnishes—all about presentation—that tends to reel them in.”
- .5 cup Agave nectar or rich simple syrup (two parts sugar, one part water)
- 2 tbsp Water
- .25 cup (about 1 ounce) Finely chopped ginger (no need to peel)
Add all the ingredients to a small saucepan over medium heat. When the mixture reaches a simmer, cook for 2 minutes, then remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature. Strain, and store tightly covered in the refrigerator for up to a month or more.
(Photo courtesy Paul Elledge. Recipes reprinted from Frontera: Margaritas, Guacamoles, and Snacks by Rick Bayless with Deanna Groen Bayless. Copyright © 2012 by Rick Bayless and Deanna Groen Bayless. Used with the permission of the publisher, W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. All rights reserved.)