Welcome back to Build a Better Opening Day, our as-of-yet unnumbered series that helps you create and host a Milwaukee Brewers Opening Day party with style, class, sophistication, and a hefty dose of awesome. By now we’ve settled some basics on location and equipment, so the remainder of the series (which will regrettably end on Thursday) will take you more in-depth in the world of how ladies and gentleman host parties of distinction, wherein the guests watch baseball, stuff their faces, and leave you cleaning up after them. Greatness always come with a price, my friends.
Today’s installment will help you craft a food and drink menu that will inspire envy and appetites from your guests – two feelings essential to a party of class and distinction.
Protein, or Big Meaty Piles of Meat
Nothing, and I mean nothing is as important to an Opening Day Party as the protein with which it is accompanied. A good portion of meat sets the mood for the whole party. There is literally no one on the planet who wouldn’t be happy about a well-made piece of meat with their meal. Except for vegetarians. But surely they want other people to be happy, and therefore would be more happy to see the carnivores at the party derive pleasure from their greatest happiness. Get the picture? If you screw up the protein portion of your party, abandon all hope and encourage other party guests to do the same.
Shopping for your meat selections can be a somewhat daunting task. At any supermarket you go to, there is literally a cornucopia of tasty animals laid out before you. How could you possibly choose which one is right for your party? Here’s a short list of food items, arranged in terms of how classy and awesome they make you look and feel. Be forewarned – the amount of class is directly proportional to the amount of money it will take to take said meat home.
You cannot, and I really mean this, CAN NOT do without the following items:
- Hot dogs
Regardless of whatever else you choose to serve, The Big Three have to have a special place on your grill and in your gullet. Anything less would be uncivilized.
- Wild bird (may I suggest Cardinal?)
- Suckling Pig
- Monkey Brains (a la Temple of Doom, of course)
I know, I know. Where will you ever get this stuff in time for your party? The internet is a strange and wondrous place, and there’s at least one place where you can totally score decent lion meat. Why would I even recommend these exotic selections? BECAUSE THEY ARE AWESOME. I guarantee someone shows up to your party and they bite into a shark burger, they will never go out to another social gathering again, because there would simply be no purpose to life anymore after eating something so awesome. They will cost an arm and leg, no doubt, but anything worth doing is worth doing well.
- Flank steak
- Ahi Tuna
Since you are undoubtedly people of discerning taste, you already know that flank steak is the odd one out here – it is inexpensive and easily attainable. So why would it be included on the second tier of Colin’s temple of awesome and classy meats? Because you can make flank steak do whatever you want. It’s tender, delicious, easy to cook, and absorbs flavor. It’s a blank canvas, ready to receive your grilling magnum opus. Most of these, save maybe the salmon and venison, deserve to be treated fairly and served as rare as you can possibly manage it. They taste the best that way, trust me. Never forget that these animals made the ultimate sacrifice for your party – the least you can do is show them some respect.
Not-so-Classy, but so delicious
- Pork Chops
- Pork Shoulder
Do everyone a favor – make bacon a place at your table. All of these selections are great for people who don’t eat red meat and cooks who want to spend 75 hours making lunch for guests who will just load up their plates with bacon. They also are a great way to switch from traditional fare and let your guests know that you know how to cook and throw parties like a true lady or gentleman.
On final thought on the meat: no matter how you end up preparing it, try grilling it first. Why? Because grilled meat tastes the way Christmas morning feels. It’s also way easier to clean up, and it makes you feel more like a man. Even if you’re a lady.
Vegetables: Just Eat Them, They’re Good For You
Vegetables are delicious and essential aspects of any properly thrown party. No respectable gentleman or lady would ever dream of not having a wide selection of roughage with which to accompany the beautiful spread of grilled meats. But how on earth do you make them delicious? Ranch can only do so much, and we ask it to do far more than it should if you ask me. Here are some helpful tips for you:
- Grill them. Corn, asparagus, and artichokes especially are just dying to be roasted on the grill. The smoke and flames add a depth of character to them, which will in turn make people more impressed by you. Which is kind of the whole point.
- Add Cheese. I know it sort of cancels out the low-cal benefits of veggies, but a dash of Parmesan, Mozzarella, or Cheddar (all Wisconsin made of course, because we aren’t barbarians) can turn vegetables of all kinds from passed up to passed out with my face in a plate full of them.
- Mix them up. Try doing a stir-fry with them or tossing them together to top and garnish your protein. It’s like there’s a party in your mouth, and everyone’s invited! (Pro-tip: never, EVER, invite your other guests to the party in your mouth. They don’t want to be there.)
I could do the same list of classy vegetables if I wanted to, but here’s the deal: having a variety of vegetables at your party shows your vegetarian friends (should you have any) that you care and shows your guest that you want them to enjoy the gastronomic portion of your party to the fullest, and that’s the real goal here.
What’s For Dessert?
Candied bacon and a nice dark beer. ‘Nuff said.
The Bar: Top-Notch Drinks for Top-Notch People
Do really need to keep saying this? IF YOU’RE NOT 21, YOU CAN’T DRINK. Stop whining and grow faster.
What makes a good party? Good drinks. That’s really all you need to know. You don’t need to be one of those fancy bottle-spinning bartenders with the crazy hair to make a decent cocktail, all you need is the right ingredients and some decent booze. If I can give one important piece of advice here, it is this: part with the buck. You don’t need to go crazy, but there is a reason some spirits cost more – BECAUSE THOSE SPIRITS ARE BETTER. Despite what your grandfather says, Wal-Mart brand scotch does not go down better then Johnny Walker, and it never will.
Vodka and Gin
There’s only one drink you need to master for a decent spring or summer afternoon in my opinion – the Gin an Tonic. It’s really easy, too. It’s just Gin and Tonic, plus a lime. You can make martinis for your guests if you want, but you’re not a sweaty old man in a cheap suit – YOU’RE A GENTLEMAN. Plus, anyone who drinks martinis in the afternoon has no problem throwing up on your carpet. Remember that forever.
For vodka, we need to talk about the Bloody Mary. Use Worcestershire sauce, it will take your drink to a whole other level of awesome. My dad – the man whom I wish to emulate with every bloody I put together – uses a variety of garnishes, including shrimp. Go nuts with them, they can only enhance the drink. Also, if you haven’t had a Bloody Mary made with cucumber or pepper vodka you haven’t lived.
If you’re going to drink rum, I suggest only one drink – the Cuba Libre. Yeah, I know it’s a Rum and Coke, but when you call it a Cuba Libre you sound classier. Why stop there? Because why do you need to go any further?
Of course, rum does make its way into plenty of other drinks of the frozen variety – we people in ‘the biz’ call them daiquiris. They’re easy to make and don’t get people as crazy as margaritas will, and you can have just as much in terms of variety. Think you’re too manly for a daquiri? Hemingway used to have, like, ten of them a day – THEN HE WOULD FIGHT BULLS AND WRITE BEST-SELLERS. True story.
Beer is the lifeblood of the tailgate party, and so it should be with your Opening Day bash. I could go on and on about beer, but I will keep it simple here: know your audience. A wide selection of light, darks, hoppy and malty varietals should be included, but don’t overdo it if your guests do not possess the same sophisticated palate as you. My advice is one cooler of domestics and one cooler of craft, microbrews, and imports. Now everybody’s happy, and probably a little tipsy.
THIS IS SUPER IMPORTANT SO EVERYBODY SHUT UP AND LISTEN:
There is NOTHING classy or sophisticated about drinking too much or drinking and driving. You’re an adult, so don’t mess this one up. DON’T DRINK TOO MUCH AND GET A DESIGNATED DRIVER. All the cool kids are doing it.
Hopefully this helped with the daunting task of creating a meal as wonderful as the person hosting it and the occasion it’s celebrating. Tomorrow we wrap up Build a Better Opening Day by getting into the annoying little details that pop up in the waning pre-party hours. Until next time, You stay classy Brewers fans.