Art of the DrinkPublished on November 24, 2021

  • Yvonnes cocktail features an apple fan. The custom bookshelf was built for her space by a friend
    Photo by: Mark Holleron

  • With limited storage space display becomes a solution.
    Photo by: Mark Holleron

  • A lemon yellow, mid-century design chair plays up on the era that made the art of cocktails popular
    Photo by: Mark Holleron

  • The dining table is always set and party ready
    Photo by: Mark Holleron

At the age of twelve, Yvonne Langen decided to break her family’s cycle of monotonous meals by embarking on a foodie journey. She now shares her recipes and food finds on her popular blog Taste and Tipple which, as the name indicates, is also a showcase for her love a good stiff drink.

You recently renovated your condo to make it better for entertaining — what did that involve? I transformed the den into a dining room with wall sconces for a nice warm glow. I brightened up the dark kitchen by painting the cabinetry and installing new countertops, backsplash and hardware. In the living room, I arranged furniture to create a good flow and had a metalworker friend build a gorgeous custom bookshelf as a focal point; I use it to store and display all my cocktail accoutrements and recipe books. I also mounted a 21-bottle wine rack on a wall beside a structural pillar. I love my home, but this 600 square foot condo is the size of the kitchen I hope to have one day.

What kind of larger gatherings do you like to host? Typically, in the before times, I would have an annual Cinco de Mayo party because I love Mexican cuisine and culture. About 25 people would attend; I’d serve lots of appetizers and pitcher cocktails and people would gather at the kitchen island, sit and stand in the living room and just have a great time. I can’t wait to have this kind of party again.

What about dinner parties? I love hosting intimate dinner parties, usually with a theme. I make cocktails to order, then serve up charcuterie or canapes on the coffee table before proceeding to the dining table. All my entertaining requires strategic menu planning as I have limited counter area and some of my fridge space is permanently dedicated to spirits, wine and cocktail syrups.

What tips can you offer for small-home entertaining? Make sure the space allows for flow, so people aren’t tripping over furniture or each other. Think vertically if you have higher ceilings, use that space strategically. Purge, sell or donate items you absolutely don’t need in your home to make space for people.

What recommendations do you have when it comes to cocktails? Think about larger batch items like homemade eggnog, mulled wine, hot buttered rum or apple cider.  Cold punches are also fun and it’s easy to find vintage punch sets at thrift shops. Offer a quality mocktail option so everyone can experience the same quality of hospitality.

What are some of your go-to spots for cocktail accessories? Whether you’re looking to level up or start to build a collection, I recommend Chef’s Paradise and Pot and Pantry for glasses and barware plus Kitchenalia for bitters and cocktail syrups. Check out the bottle shops at town restaurant on Elgin St. and La Bottega Nicastro in the ByWard Market.

Paula Roy

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