The following article was written by Brian Patton, author of The Sexy Vegan’s Happy Hour at Home.
To me, “happy hour” is a calming release of the week’s difficulties and a joyful reflection upon its victories. It should scrub the mind and leave you with a clean slate so that your weekend adventures may be fully enjoyed. Oh yeah, and there should be drinks. And food. With the following tips in your arsenal when entertaining, you will be quickly elevated to the status of “Happy Hour Hero.”
1. Keep it simple.
Happy hour is more about socializing than creating the Last Supper. You don’t want to be chained to the kitchen while your guests are getting tipsy on the patio. This is not the time to prepare 20-ingredient dishes or make pizza dough from scratch. For happy hour, you should focus on small, simple, tapas-style plates that come together fast with a few ingredients.
2. Have a theme.
It doesn’t matter what it is, but have one. Hell, I’ve had Pearl Jam–themed dinner parties and happy hours. Having a theme accomplishes a couple of things. First, it makes your happy hour sound cool: “Hey, why don’t you come over for happy hour?” sounds OK, but “Hey, why don’t you come over for Pearl Jam happy hour?” sounds way cooler. Curiosities are piqued, and the seeds for a good time have been planted in your guests’ collective subconscious.
3. Get nuts!
Not lampshade-on-your-head-dancing-around-pantless nuts, but actual nuts. The ones you eat. I serve seasoned, roasted nuts at all my happy hours. They’re very easy, and you can make them ahead of time. Nuts are also filling, so even though you’re not serving a full meal, your diners’ grumbly bellies will still be sated.
4. Think before you drink.
Since you’ve already concocted a theme and the dishes to go with it, you might as well put a little thought into your beverage selection. You’ll find an extensive list of cocktails in The Sexy Vegan’s Happy Hour at Home, or you can simply search the Internet, and you’ll quickly have answers to questions like “Which wine goes with roasted golden beets?” or “What beer pairs with samosa pizzas?”
5. Show off!
Make a show of your happy hour. Keep the windows open so that your guests can smell the aromas as they approach your abode. Let them see you in a dirty apron expertly mincing fresh herbs. And don’t finalize your dishes until the guests have settled in with their first beverage. Any operation involving large flames and/or careful, delicate garnishing would be ideal to save for the grand finale.
After you use these tips to perfect your own happy hour, word of your heroics will quickly spread among the people. You should probably get a reservation book because your place will become the most popular joint in town.