saltwater sommelier

Archive for October, 2010|Monthly archive page

Tis the season for Holiday Party Planning….

In Uncategorized on October 21, 2010 at 7:12 pm

What kind of hors d’oeuvres should you serve?

Keep the hors d’oeuvres easy for guests who will be milling about with a cocktail in one hand.  One or two bite appetizers that do not require a plate work best.  Choose hors d’oeuvres that have minimal drippy sauces.  Make sure to have a nice variety: two seafood, two vegetarian, and two meat as well as both hot and cold styles to keep it interesting. Here is a sample menu for a Holiday Cocktail Party:

  • Fall Phyllo Cup, Piped Blue and Goat Cheese with Herbs, Topped with a Fig Compote
  • Mini Hot Dogs in a Blanket, Chefs Dipping Sauce
  • Lump Crab and Artichoke Bisque Soup Sippers
  • Sirloin Steak Sates, Horseradish Cream
  • Grilled Shrimp and Pineapple Skewers Tai Pan
  • Lobster Salad Gaufrettes
  • Hot Bruschetta

Connecticut Caterers provides servers and bartenders for your party

How long and what time should the cocktail party be?

5-7 pm is the perfect cocktail party time.  Scheduling the time any later gets close to dinner hour and guests will be expecting dinner.  You could also list a three hour time period on your invitations (4:30-7:30) knowing that many people will drop in and out.  A longer cocktail party works if you add more stationary foods.  You can stagger the foods throughout the evening for example:

Your guests are greeted with a glass of sparkling Cava topped with a Canape on the glass (traditional Tapas style).  Stationary hors d’oeuvres tables are set up at this time with crudites and a tower of assorted tea sandwiches.  A variety of hors d’oeuvres are passed.  Half way into the party more substantial foods are added to the buffet such as a shaffing dish with mini picked meatballs in a Gorgonzola cream sauce, a cold Chicken Tai Pan salad over angel hair pasta, and a tray of mini crab cakes.  Later in the evening coffee service is set up with a display of mini treats such as creme de menthe squares and chocolate covered strawberries.  In this example there is enough food to have the party last 4 hours.  Really it is dinner just finger food style combined with a bit of buffet.

How many hors d’oeuvres per person?  (a question that is so commonly asked)

If you are doing a cocktail hour that will be followed by a sit down dinner 2-3 styles of hors d’oeuvres with 4-6 pieces per person is a good estimate.  If you are inviting guests to a cocktail party (2-3 hours usually) 6 choices and 3 pieces per hour is the calculation most caterers use.  So for twenty people a good suggestion would be to order 2-3 dozen of each style of hors d’oeuvre.  People will usually consume much more than 3 pieces in the first hour and slow down as the night goes on but the calculation will average out. If you are hosting a longer cocktail party consider adding 1-3 stationary hors d’oeuvres.  An artisan cheese table or a Mediterranean table with hummus, pitas, and other dips and spreads will compliment the passed hors d’oeuvres nicely.  It is a good idea to have plates on hand for the stationary tables.

How many drinks per person?

For a 3-4 hour cocktail party depending on your guests drinking habits 3-4 drinks per person is a good guideline.  Many cocktail parties start with a signature drink followed by wine and beer.  Here are some great festive holiday cocktails Connecticut Caterers offers:

Pomegranate Martini

Pumpkin Tini

Perfect Pair Martini

Cucumber Cosmo

Our cocktails usually involve chef made purees mixed with your favorite brands of alcohol with fresh decorative garnishes such as cranberries, skewered blueberries, star fruit, or cinnamon sugar rims.  The possibilities are endless.  Ask us to design a cocktail just for you!

Have extra red wine on hand for your winter cocktail party.  Each wine bottle serves 4-5 glasses.  For red wine most people drink Cabernet Sauvignon and favorite whites include: Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, and Sauvignon Blanc.  Besides Cab, Malbec is the hottest red wine currently and Pinot Noir is a must have.  For Pinot Noir both the California and New Zealand styles are popular and Argentina is one of the best producers of Malbec.

Don’t forget dessert!  Mini Chocolate Mousse Cups are the perfect elegant touch…

Contact a Connecticut Caterers Party Planner to assist you with planning your holiday cocktail party today at 860.567.4900

SWG Party Planner, Brett Clugston


Are you craving a Pumpkin Tini?

In Sommelier Corner on October 21, 2010 at 12:42 am

October 20, 2010: Dunkin Donoughts has a pumpkin doughnut, Starbucks a pumpkin spice latte , and Panera Bread a Pumpkin Muffin.  Personally Im totally into these sweet Fall treats.  And when it comes to cocktails the festive possibilities are endless. I spent quite a while tweaking the secret SWG pumpkin tini recipie.  This process consisted of mixing, tasting, adding splashes of this and pinches of that, and tasting.  Yes my opinion is biasis, but I think it is the most amazing dessert drink ever.  You could skip the chocolate cake and go straight to the pumpkin tini. The cinnamon and nutmeg add a grainy consistency that was the finishing touch and other than that you will just have to try it for yourself.

A touch of sea salt is the new craze with desserts so why should a sugary cocktail be any different.  Faith Middleton did a whole segment this year about a pinch of salt added to desserts.  Salt actually brings out the sweetness in desserts.  The SWG Sea Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate has Bailey’s, Godiva Chocolate Liquor, and whipped cream drizzled with caramel and sprinkled with a touch of sea salt and sugar topping.

Fall is a great season for the ever popular Chocolate Tini.   This cocktail actually makes it’s way into all our seasonal cocktail lists.  It is a must have for any restaurant signature drink list.  The SWG recipie has Absolut Vanila, Bailey’s, Dark crème de Coca, Cream, and Chocolate Sauce drizzled on a chilled martini glass.

For a Fall cocktail a bit less sugary the Cran Pom Collins is a refreshing twist on an old favorite.  Absolut Vanilla, Cranberyy Juice, and Pomegranate shaken with sour and topped with a spritz of club soda.  This cocktail is garnished with dried cranberries.

Check out The Litchfield Saltwater Grille’s complete Fall cocktail list here…

SWG Sommelier Brett Clugston

Its time to revamp our wine by the glass offerings….Check out these rich, hearty reds that will keep you satisfied from Fall through Winter…

In Sommelier Corner on October 20, 2010 at 8:29 pm

The lounge at the Saltwater Grille has started its popular fireside dining season.  Litchfield leaf peepers are out and about enjoying lazy afternoon lunches.  Diners are looking for richer more full bodied reds as the weather gets cooler like Syrahs, Cabs, Malbec’s, and Red Zin’s.  Currently, the biggest growing red wine varietal is Malbec.  On our wine list by the glass the Altos las Hormigas Malbec from Argentina is a steal at $9.  The Malbec grape creates a really intense wine and is usually blended in small quantities with Cab and Merlot for a Bordeaux blend.  Malbec’s from Argentina are more velvety, smooth, and fruit foreword compared to the tannic Malbec grown in France.  Sommeliers wine pairing: Altos las Hormigas Malbec with SWG Montauk Bouillabaisse.

Red Zinfandel is another Fall favorite.  The Immortal Zin by Peirano Estate Vineyards is an old vine Zinfandel from the Lodi region of California.  Red Zinfandel has become known as an American creation yet it originated in Italy as the Primativo grape.  Zin’s are meaty, rugged, and robust.  This Zin has majorly intense fruit.  Winning many awards this is an up an coming California Zin.

Shiraz, Syrah, and Petite Sirah….

Syrah is the grape grown in France used in the famous Chateauneuf de Pape Rhone blend.  Try the 2005 E Guigal Cotes du Rhone on our wine by the bottle list.

Shiraz is Australia’s most widely grown grape.  New to the SWG wine by the glass list is Yalumba Patchwork Shiraz, a typical Barossa Valley Argentine Shiraz. Black pepper and spice are well integrated in this lush earthy red with powerful fruit!  The philosophy behind the Patchwork name is that the wine was crafted from a from a ‘patchwork quilt’ of soils, aspects, microclimates and cultures to create a single wine.  Try it with a Rib Eye or New York Sirloin.

Ravens Wood Petite Sirah has been a popular for quite a while now at $8 a glass.  Compared to Syrah and Shiraz, Petite Sirah is more purple in color and a bit brighter in flavor.  Syrah has more tannins and more pepper and spice. Ravenswood is a Sonoma winery that is very well known for their Zinfandels yet that have created a stellar wine with this Petite Sirah.  It is delicate enough to be consumed on its own before dinner yet hearty enough to stand up to a big meal.

It’s always good to have choices when it comes to Cab.  Sebastiani Cabernet Sauvignon from Sonoma has been the staple Cabernet offered by the glass for quite a while now.  Layer Cake Cab from Napa is a newcomer that is getting allot of press right now and when our team of sommeliers at the SWG tasted it was unanimous that it should be added as a wine by the glass selection.  This bold red has a creamy body with flavors ranging from chocolate, violet, plum, and tobacco.  It is complex (hence the name suggesting a range of flavors) and rich with a very long finish.

SWG Sommelier Brett Clugston


In Sommelier Corner on October 4, 2010 at 4:09 pm

With wonderful wines being produced all over the world, choosing one seems to have become a bit more of a task than it has been in the past. Every time you stop by your local wine shop or browse through a wine list at your favorite restaurant, new vineyards names, labels and claims of greatness, are forever tempting our taste buds. Having some of the research done in advance can always be a help when it comes to spending good money on one of life’s luxuries. After spending the summer doing much research on wines from country’s you never even  knew made wine along with numerous tastings and seminars  throughout the area, and even a trip to the Washington wine region, I have compiled a short list of great wines that I am sure you will enjoy.

#1.. Bodegas Olivares 2008 Altos de la Hoya ($12)… With many wonderful wines coming from Spain the Jumilla region is producing powerful reds from the Monastrell grape. This rich, dry wine is a perfect example.

#2..En Route 2007 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir Les Pommiers ($55)… with the aromatics of wild raspberry, black cherry, plum and floral notes, this wine is juicy, ripe and full of integrated tannins.

#3.. Sergio Mottura 2009 Poggio Della Costa ($18…) the Lazio region around Rome has some of Italy’s best white wines, like this tropical scented Grechetto, that goes great with any fresh garden salad or seafood dish.

#4..Irony 2007 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($15)…being touted as the  greatest year since 2001 in Napa, this well made Cab. shows how astounding  a wine sourced from vineyards all around the valley can be. A great value indeed.

#5.. Col Solare 2006 Red Mountain Winery and Estate Vineyard. ($75)…  This partnership wine of Tuscany’s Marchesi Antinori and Washington State’s Chateau Ste. Michelle has produced an Old World/ New World, rich and luxurious Cabernet Sauvignon based treat, on a remote but sundrenched hill known as Red Mountain between Benton City and Richland in the smallest AVA in Washington St.

Col Solare

#6..The Chook Shiraz 2009 Viognier ($18)

A well balanced ruby red from Southern Australia at a great value.  Distinct flavors of ripe raspberries, licorice and vanilla finish with a good clarity and spice. Goes great with our Mahimahi Tacos or some SWG Eggplant Rollitini.

#7..Domaine Serene 2008 Pinot Noir Evenstad Reserve ($48)…Sharp with acidity this fantastic Pinot delivers a smooth and round mouth, with flavors of dark berries and cherry. Only in the Willamette Valley in Oregon can you find such a special wine.

#8..Olivier Leflaive 2007 Puligny  Montrachet   “Champ Gain” ($85)…  Being the jewel of all the Leflaive appellations this Cote de Beaune from Burgundy exemplifies the character of a great French Chardonnay. Makes a great first wine at a Family Holiday Dinner served with a course of light seafood salad or a fresh fried Frito Misto.

#9..  Sauvignon Blanc 2009  New Zealand Brancott ($16)… What a great food wine, and for the price you can stock up. Tastes like one of what New Zealand does best, only better with this value. Light citrus flavors with a clean rounded dry finish. lunch time, happy hour, dinner or anytime this fun wine is a winner.

#10.. Schramsberg  2006 California  Blanc de Blancs ($36)… Before release this all Chardonnay sparkling wine was aged for two years in the bottle, giving complexity to its flavors of yellow apple, pear and melon.

So there it is ten to drink now, not in any special order just listed as I remembered them. Hopefully all of the long hours I have spent tasting will be of some help for you in choosing an enjoyable bottle. You could try and choose from what the world has to offer on your own. But that means you have to drink an awful large amount of wine. Whatever you decide I am sure you will discover the world has a lot of wine to offer, enjoy the journey…

The Litchfield Saltwater Grille offers many of these wonderful wines, plus a great list of approximately 300 more labels for you to get started on. Stop in and check out our new Wine list for the winter season.