Raising the Bar this Holiday Season

Holidays bring the most wonderful hosting opportunities! I find such joy in putting together the “perfect” table and decking my halls to the fullest in anticipation of my nearest and dearest joining me for some festive fun.  However, as I prepped for my hostessing duties this year I was reminded of an area that is highly trafficked but sometimes neglected – the bar. I spend so much time thinking about my dishes and décor that sometimes I tend to play it safe with my beverage selection.  Not this year! In order to take my bar to the next level I knew I would need some guidance.  So, I picked out a few of my favorite glassware pieces and called out for professional help.  Luckily, just a short drive away from us is a cocktail destination with all the style, skill and delicious sips that I needed to take my entertaining to the next level. 

The Campground, located in West Bottoms, is where I go when I want a well-balanced and beautiful classic cocktail.  Fun fact – I used to follow owner Cristin on Instagram for many years when she was in the textile business – just like me! She and her co-owner/husband, Chris, have created a fun and unique space – and I am head-over-heels in love with their antique glassware!  I love finding places with their own sense of style and point of view.  Walking into Campground, the first impression is of a dark, moody, and hip bar that is “campy” in every sense of the word.  From the taxidermy pieces scattered about (all currently decked out in Christmas finery) to the statement-making bronzed bar, it is a fun balance of nature and machine. There is also a surprising amount of traditional elements and vintage accents that adorn the space.   I knew that they would be the perfect pair to help me craft three delicious (and feasible) cocktails to complement my chosen glasses.

With all the beautiful glassware in the shop, I first had to narrow down my selection. To anyone but décor lovers, picking out the glassware before deciding on the cocktail menu might seem backwards, but not only is it a fun challenge, it is a visual feast!  I knew I wanted a variety of different drink options for my guests that also paired well with my décor, of course! With this in mind, I went with a 1920’s inspired gold-accented coupette glass for a bit of holiday glamour, a visually interesting but simple glass mug (hot cocktails are the best this time of year!), and an intricate goblet that is absolutely stunning in any setting.  

For the coupette glass, Chris created a twist on one of my all-time favorite cocktails – the French 75.  The addition of Vermouth adds an earthy touch that was a missing piece to this already amazing drink! Since this is a cocktail that was created during WWI and popular during the 1920’s and 30’s, it fits in with our chosen glass perfectly! This light and refreshing drink is easy to make but made me feel like a bartending pro! Anything topped with sparkling wine is a winner in my eyes.   

I could not wait to see what he would suggest for our glass mug and I was not disappointed! As you know, I love curling up with a hot beverage by my fireplace, with my favorite candle and book for a bit of relaxation and the mulled wine Chris created had that warm and cozy feeling all in one glass! If the spices, aroma, and gorgeous deep burgundy color weren’t enough to make this my favorite, the fact that you can batch it out ahead of time sealed the deal!

Our last cocktail creation was a Sherry Cobbler (I kept thinking of cherry cobbler the whole time, food is always on the brain!) and was by far the prettiest cocktail we made.  It’s almost like an adult snow cone with a mountain of ice resting on a lovely mauve base.  The gorgeous color truly allows the details on the glass to shine! This is another cocktail that is able to be made ahead of time, which is great for when you are busy hosting and don’t have a spare moment!

It was such a pleasure learning how to make these delicious drinks and I was so excited to learn I could come get my Mulled Wine fix all December at Campground.  I can’t wait to keep exploring new cocktails with which to entertain and enhance my bar – starting with their entire holiday menu! What is your go-to drink when hosting a crowd? I would love to try it! Let me know in the comments or on social media using #nellhills so I can find you! Until next time – happy hosting!