What Makes a Holiday Party Magical?



December 16, 2015



Holiday Cheer:

A Toast to You and Your Guests


Anthony Mitchell at La Sirena Clandestina:

“You can’t throw a holiday party without ham.”



Emilie Sharboneau at Jake Melnick’s Corner Tap:

“I would say that hosting family and friends over the holidays is perhaps one of my favorite things. We in the industry have a unique opportunity to share our hard work and acquired knowledge with our loved ones. There is nothing cooler than picking something out for a family member or close friend and then seeing them truly enjoy it. To me, it is definitely one of the truest forms of joy we share in the season.”


Beverage Director Wesley Jackson at Mercat a la Planxa:

“Nothing says holiday to me like sparkling rose. I know rose is generally a summer drink, but those beautiful pink bubbles full of strawberry and raspberry flavor make me think winter party. Can you imagine anything more festive than a room full of people in holiday sweaters drinking sparkling rose out of wonderfully filled flutes? My favorite is the Aria Brut Rose Cava.”



Chicago Athletic Association Hotel’s Spirit Guide Nandini Khaund:

“Batching a cocktail is always an easy way to not be stuck behind your bar at home, and you have a lot of creativity in presentation: Turning your cocktail into an installation can be as easy as adding a beautiful punch bowl, candles, flowers and cute glassware. This way, it becomes inviting and a conversation piece. Then you can party with your guests and share the experience!”

Steve Carrow, Chairman of the Bar at The Lunatic, The Lover & The Poet:

“Open the good bottles first. By the time you get to the cheap stuff, everyone is crocked.”

“Make a nice punch and have a self-serve bar. There’s no reason you should bartend and not enjoy your own party.”

“Spring for quality wine and spirits. The memory of drinking something bad is usually stronger than the memory of drinking something good.”

“Hire your favorite bartenders and pay them incredibly well.”

“Learn how to saber a Champagne bottle and teach your guests. It is a lasting memory.”

“Rent or purchase glassware. No one wants to drink wine from a Solo Cup.”

“Hire a cleaning service.”


Tom Powers, Owner/Sommelier at The Lunatic, The Lover & The Poet:

“Go big with your wine choice. Large formats overtly communicate a profound celebratory environment. I would always start with Champagne and then look to Aged German Riesling, American Pinot Noirs and some Napa Valley Zinfandels. I have always found my friends at Hart Davis Hart to be a great source for special bottles.”


Andrew Macker, General Manager of Howells & Hood:

“When entertaining for the holidays, I love to fill my home with as many holiday aromas as possible — not just from the food, but from the cocktails as well. A great way to do this is by creating a great hot beverage in a Crock-Pot. I like to make a mulled wine and add great aromatic herbs and spices, like rosemary, thyme and clove. It’s super easy and delicious, while adding the perfect aroma to get everyone in the holiday spirit as soon as they open the door!”


Arthur Hon, Beverage Director at Sepia:

“For a lavish party, choose a great sparkling wine and pair it with a fancy appetizer or dessert. The Prelude Champagne has a beautiful round texture featuring a blend of Chardonnay and pinot noir grapes. This bottle pairs well with classic sturgeon caviar or uni, a saltier sea urchin roe.”