I’m a complainer by nature, so needless to say, this bout of chilly, dreary Chicago weather has me full of excuses not to go anywhere. I recently managed to make it to one farewell party (which was two blocks away), dragging some infused whiskey, a gifted bottle of whipped cream vodka and a few cans of guava nectar I found at Target with me.
My friend and I looked borderline crazy carrying our loot down Addison. But that’s the way Midwest get-togethers go: You can’t arrive empty-handed. And if you haven’t had time to bake, mix or wrap anything, you make do with what you have.
As the summer rolls in, I’ll become a little more methodical about my party booze. Here are a few loose guidelines:
BBQ/grilling/backyard potluck: If you have a portable container and a socially acceptable recipe, don’t be afraid to break out some punch. To make sure the majority of the party is still standing at sundown, be sure to disclose when your secret ingredient is two handles of Red Stag.
Camping/canoeing/my version of hiking: Keep it canned, keep it light. Glass bottles are an obvious no-go in most outdoor situations. And if you’re planning to be out all day exerting yourself (or at least sitting in the sun), anything with a high alcohol content is going to quickly become your worst enemy.
The house party you weren’t technically invited to: Looking to break some awkward ice? Turn to novelty booze. Alcohol-infused whipped cream, cans of raspberry-watermelon Blast, personal bottles of champagne ... if it’s anything other than a six-pack of tallboys and a bottle of liquor, someone will start talking to you.
Playing hooky at the beach: Since discretion is key here, you’re going to want to go with something easily concealable. And why opt for a flask when you can pack a picnic with a two-liter instead? Grab some cheap (yes) red wine, a bottle of Coke (for a traditional Spanish kalimotxo, aka calimocho) or Sprite (if you’re weird like my friends and me) and some ice. Chuck half the soda, add the wine and there you have it.
Festivals: Nothing. Real talk, you’re not 18. If you’re going to a festival, you need to account for booze in your budget. Yes, fest beers are expensive. But you can curb this by pre-gaming, taking a long lunch break or I don’t know ... staying sober until the afterparty? Nothing is less impressive than seeing a grown man pulling mini-bottles out of his socks.
Bridal showers/engagement parties/casual weddings: Do you know how fancy a bottle of Andre looks when you swap the label for a cuter one you’ve monogrammed with the initials of the bride and groom? SUPER fancy.
Baby showers: Flask.
Emily Van Zandt is a RedEye reporter. She’s serious about that Sprite and red wine thing. firstname.lastname@example.org | @redeyedrinks