As a host, "you have a real responsibility to not only take care of your guest from a social standpoint, but from a practical standpoint as well," says David Solmonson. He and Lesley Solmonson are co-authors of The 12 Bottle Bar.
Lesley Solmonson: The idea of responsibility is not meant to harp or be a public service announcement. But when you have guests, they are in your care. You do need to think about what you are serving them. Not only does that mean, for instance, maybe something like a punch that will dilute and offer you that strong to weak possibility, but also things like having alternatives.
We do virgin drinks in the book for exactly that reason. Not just because someone might have had enough to drink and still wants to be part of the party, but also there are a lot of people for circumstance or choice who don't drink. It's a really awkward situation, as many people know, when you go to a party and everybody is drinking and you have nothing to enjoy in your hand.
To us, drinking cocktails has never been about getting drunk. Drinking cocktails is about really luxuriating in the flavor and the experience. You can luxuriate in flavor and experience with something that does not have a spirit in it, as long as the flavors are bright, complex and interesting.
David Solmonson: I think that one thing that always stands in the back of my mind with regard to being a good host is my parents grew up on farms, so we're a very different generation. Lesley and I have had the fortune to travel the world and go eat because that's what we like to do when we travel.
My mother once asked me, "When you go to these fancy restaurants, don't you ever feel out of place?" My response to her was, "If it's a good restaurant, they won't let you." I think that is the ultimate responsibility of a host.
Whether it's a commercial host or whether it's inviting people -- you're my friend, you're coming to my house, it's great that we're friends, but when you enter the door, I am your host -- I have a responsibility to take care of you as a guest. I have a responsibility to offer you something tasty to drink. If I'm offering you something to drink, I'd better be offering you something to eat as well. If I'm offering you something to drink, I'd better know how much I'm offering you to drink if you're driving home.
You have a real responsibility to not only take care of your guest from a social standpoint, but from a practical standpoint as well.
LS: You have a responsibility to enjoy your own party. Many times, and we did this for years, we would get so bound up in the presentation and all these crazy dishes we were going to make for our friends.
DS: You want to show off, right?
LS: In showing off, you spend your entire night in the kitchen. We have finally discovered, to our credit after all these years, don't go overboard. Make drinks that you can prepare ahead of time, or that can be batched, which means you make large amounts of them, or that you can even show your friends how to make.
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Jennifer Russell is a founding producer at The Splendid Table. Before coming to radio, she made historical and arts and cultural programming for public television. She claims to have come out of the womb a food lover -- when other girls played house, she played restaurateur. Follow her comings and goings on Twitter: @jenejentweets.