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The Ultimate Summer Send-Off

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Labor Day is around the corner. Turn the long weekend into an end-of-the-season fling by throwing a cocktail party. The best thing about cocktail parties is their flexibility. Guests can drift in at their leisure and exit whenever they please. Cocktail party food — dips and skewers, crudités and nuts — eliminates the worry of having enough chairs and place settings for a sit-down meal. The lingering warm weather allows guests to spread out onto the porch, patio or deck.

One fun option is to set up a cocktail bar. You can hire a bartender for the night and not worry about a thing. Or you can give guests room to experiment. Set out a selection of liquors, mixers and garnishes, and let them create their libations of choice. Invite guests to bring their favorite liquor and a couple of accompaniments. Then everyone can add his or her touch to the table. As the host, make sure to provide a few essentials: ice; glasses (whatever style you have on hand); stirrers; shakers; cocktail napkins; tonic water, ginger ale and soda; and some standard garnishes, such as limes, lemons and olives.

Creating a signature cocktail is also a good idea. Similar to a nightly special at a bar, it provides guests a go-to option. The cocktail can be a host favorite or something that represents the occasion or season. Display the ingredients for this one special drink together in one location, maybe on a side table, with the recipe. This cucumber basil gimlet has a refreshing, summertime flavor. It takes the traditional gimlet ingredients — gin and lime juice — and livens them up with cucumber and basil. Cucumbers are in season, so they should be plentiful at your local market. Try scoring the cucumbers lengthwise with a fork before slicing to create a light-dark pattern on the edges that looks great in the glass as a garnish. Print the recipes for your guests as a take away for the evening.

Cucumber Basil Gimlet

Yield: 1 drink
4 slices cucumber, plus more for garnish
5 basil leaves, plus more for garnish
Juice of 1 lime
2 ounces gin


Prepare a highball glass with ice and garnish. Muddle the cucumber slices, basil leaves and lime juice in a cocktail shaker. Add ice and gin. Cover and shake vigorously. Strain into the glass. Serve with Food Should Taste GoodTM Jalapeño, Cantina or Lime tortilla chips.

Recipe by Michelle Zippelli from JustAddCheese.

While shopping for the night, grab a bag or two of Food Should Taste GoodTM tortilla chips for an easy party snack. Food Should Taste GoodTM chips are made without the use of genetically engineered ingredients, are gluten and cholesterol free, have zero grams of trans fat and are certified kosher, while many varieties are also certified vegan. Visit foodshouldtastegood.com for delicious recipes, a full list of available products and to find events where you can score a sample.