Blake Lively Shares Her Tips for Making Festive Holiday Drinks
If you're hosting a holiday party this season, you've likely put a lot of thought into what you'll be serving and that typically includes a cocktail or two. When stocking your bar cart in the days leading up to your event, it's a nice addition to have offerings for guests who are planning not to drink. Instead of providing the usual suspects like club soda, Blake Lively's new line of non-alcoholic, sparkling mixers, Betty Buzz, will make non-drinkers feel like there's something special for them to sip on too. During a recent event, the actress and director explained how she uses the mixers to make gorgeous spirit-free cocktails.
Lively and the Betty Buzz team spent the past three years crafting her low-calorie, bubbly mixers. The line features beverages made with real juice, natural flavors, and zero colors or sweeteners. Additionally, all Betty Buzz drinks are non-GMO, kosher, vegan, and gluten-free. Flavors include tonic water, ginger beer, sparkling grapefruit, sparkling lemon lime, and Meyer lemon club soda (Lively's favorite). After growing tired of the flavor of traditional mixers not being able to stand alone without alcohol, Lively, who doesn't drink alcohol, decided to take a different approach. "When I would try mixers, the alcohol was forward facing because it was meant to be mixed with alcohol," she said. "The mixer should be the hero flavor."
For Lively, Betty Buzz is great for everyone because it's delicious on it's own, but it also works well when mixed with any type of spirit. When hosting a party, Lively turns making drinks into an interactive experience for her guests. She starts by prepping all of her different garnishes, depending on whatever is in season. (For the holidays, you may consider apple, blood orange, pomegranate, and fresh mint.) Lively then cuts them into different shapes and sizes and lays them out. Then she'll display a beautiful bowl of ice, glassware, different flavors of Betty Buzz, and various spirits (for guests who are drinking). She says this way, guests can try making their own and it becomes a welcoming experience no matter if you're drinking alcohol or not.
Presentation is key when it comes to making a beautiful cocktail, or mocktail, and it's an aspect of hosting that Lively is very passionate about. When garnishing your beverage, the actress says to avoid simply tossing a wedge of fruit on the rim of your glass. When working with a lime or orange, for example, she prefers to start by slicing the citrus into discs. Once you've done this, you can make a slit from the top of the sphere to the fruit's center. Then put a finger on both sides of the slit and slowly twist the fruit until it forms a vertical spiral and lay it on top of the glass. Lively also prefers her decorative pieces to hang near the top of the glass instead of letting them float to the bottom. When using a cinnamon stick—a traditional garnish during the holiday season—Lively recommends pushing it through the center of an apple slice so it floats. Another way to make your beverages aesthetically pleasing is to use large pieces of ice—Lively likes hers shaped like spheres or diamonds. "For some reason it just makes it feel like so much more of a treat to have nice ice," she says. The actress also recommends having the ice almost peek out of the top of the glass, a touch she finds to be really beautiful as it melts and fizzes.
To make a holiday-themed beverage with Betty Buzz, Lively starts by lining the rim of a highball glass with a crushed up candy cane. She then adds ice to the glass and fills it almost to the top with tonic water. Next, Lively adds a small dash of peppermint extract to the mixture, as well as about an ounce of pomegranate juice. She tops the beverage with more tonic water and garnishes with fresh pomegranate seeds, and a candy cane. As an alternative garnish, Lively says you can also use two mint leaves to mimic a holly leaf and place it in the center of your glass with the candy cane. If you want the flavor of alcohol, without feeling its effects, the Betty Buzz creator says to add a dash of your chosen spirit to the top of the beverage or over your garnish. This trick allows you to smell and slightly taste the alcohol without using the amount a classic cocktail would. "I don't drink because I don't like the effects of alcohol, but I like being a part of it," Lively says. "I like being social, I like people coming together."