My Tampa friend and I used to choose one Friday every month to don our leather skirts and funky hats and sample the night life in town. We liked eating new food and sipping new drinks; most of all, we liked the stories we collected through the night. Like ..
… the friend of a friend at a Rocky Point dance spot who punctuated every thought with the word “boom.” (“Honor. Boom.” “Do you want to dance? Boom.” “Can I get you anything? Boom.”)
… the bankers at a Hyde Park happy hour who had no time for women as old as 26 and 28. (“It was nice talking to you, but we see some younger girls over there.”)
… the neighborhood dive that was so hyper-local the band actually stopped playing when we walked in. (“They’re looking at our hats!” my friend whispered. “I think we’re overdressed!”)
Invariably, we ended up at a bay-side restaurant for a final nosh and a goodnight shot. I can’t remember whose idea it was, but we typically finished our evenings by slamming back a Captain Morgan and regaling ourselves with this Friday night’s stories.
Captain Morgan and I have long since parted ways, but I’m still a sucker for a shot. Only these days, I’m downing sweet and savory edibles instead of hard liquor.
Soups, pastas, puddings, mousses … put them into lovely little receptacles, and you have instant food on the go. I love serving what could be meaty, messy fare in a shot glass, espresso cup or cordial glass. It becomes instantly transportable and the perfect heavy hors d’oeuvre for buffets or cocktail parties.
Tiny glasses lend a sense of proportion, too. Dinner guests might roll their eyes at two filling desserts, but present one in a demitasse cup and you have a delectable, one-bite complement to whatever else you’re serving.
Here are my five favorite shots to serve at parties. I like to prepare them ahead of time and present them en masse on big serving platters or stacked cake plates. They’re fun, festive and unexpected conversation starters.
All that’s missing is a funky hat.
- Paella: Take traditional ingredients like shrimp, scallops and andouille sausages, but chop them finely. Combine with couscous or another small-grained pasta like orzo, then toss with a lemon/olive oil vinaigrette and chopped red peppers, peas and green olives. Your dish will fit beautifully into shot or cordial glasses.
- Soup: Make up half a batch of two or three favorite soups and spoon them into espresso cups (for hot soup) or shot glasses (for cold). Arrange the glasses on a silver platter or a deep-sided serving dish filled with crushed ice. Greet guests at the door with a savory shot, or let them help themselves through the evening.
- Chocolate Pudding: Can you imagine the mess of serve-yourself pudding on a buffet table? Pipe that pudding into 1-ounce shot or cordial glasses, though, and the mess disappears. I like to stack the shots on a tiered serving dish and have a plate of tiny spoons nearby.
- Pumpkin Mousse: For autumn dinner parties, I serve a three-layer apple and pecan cake with cream cheese frosting. Rather than pairing it with ice cream, I like to offer pumpkin mousse in demitasse cups. The bite of pumpkin complements the cake, and no one feels like they’ve over-indulged.
- Spicy Cocktail Shrimp: Combine tomato juice with a teaspoon or two of prepared horseradish and finely minced garlic and celery. Pour into 1- or 2-ounce shot glasses and loop a cooked, tail-on shrimp over the edge. (Add vodka to your tomato juice mixture if you want more zing.)