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Holiday drop-ins: Impromptu cocktail party

By keeping a few pantry party essentials within reach at all times, you’ll be the toast of the town when the doorbell rings this holiday season. Whether a casual good tidings drop-in or a last-minute New Year’s Eve party, you’ll have the necessary ingredients on hand for impromptu appetizers and cocktails for all.

crudite with dill dip

Instant appetizer ideas

Crudités with dill dip. Sour cream is another staple that will satisfy unannounced guests. Keep a 16-ounce container in the fridge and mix with a dash of pepper sauce, 1 tablespoon of dried dill, 1 teaspoon onion powder, salt and pepper to taste. Serve with crisp carrots, endive, celery or cucumber wedges.

Herbed goat cheese. Keep a package of goat cheese (chèvre), at least one fresh herb (flat leaf parsley, fresh thyme or dill) and a box of artisan water crackers in your kitchen at all times. When friends or family drop in unannounced, mix minced fresh herbs with cracked black pepper, and then roll the goat cheese in the herb mixture. Place on a pretty white plate with fresh fruit or fruit preserves, and serve with crackers for an impressive last-minute cheese plate.

Quesadillas. A package of flour tortillas will save the day when friends come to call. Place a thinly sliced apple, shredded cheddar and a sprinkle of kosher salt between two oiled tortillas. Bake or pan fry until golden brown on both sides. Cut into bite-size pieces and serve warm.

Trendy cocktail ideas

Sangria. Keep at least one bottle of white wine in the refrigerator at all times. This can be mixed with berries, peaches and other in-season fruits for a quick and refreshing sangria.

The classics. Keep ingredients for a signature cocktail on hand at all times. Classic cocktails are back in style, so when friends come by, don’t ask them what they want to drink. Just hand them an Apricot Lady or a classic Manhattan (2 ounces whiskey, 1/2 ounce sweet vermouth, 2 dashes bitters, maraschino cherry for garnish. Shake with ice to chill, strain, pour).

Soda pop. Simple syrups can be made in minutes and infused with fun flavors like ginger, mint, basil and lemon. In a small saucepan, heat 1 cup sugar with 1 cup water over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves completely; add grated fresh ginger or other fruit or herbs. Remove from heat; let stand 10 minutes. Add two to three ice cubes to cool mixture slightly. Combine infused simple syrup, sparkling water and fruit juice to create your own unique soda flavors.

Last but not least

No party is complete without tunes, so keep a variety of party playlists on your favorite devices for quick access to music mood setters.

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