Boys’ night out can mean long lines and longer tabs; the bars might be swank and the cocktails topnotch, but shouting to your bros over the rattle of shakers and squeal of the latest Pitchfork-approved LP can turn any pub crawl sour. So bring it home — host your own. Leave the catering to us (hell, even some of the bartending) for a stressless soiree.
How-To Tip #1: Munchies Managed
Chipotle Lime Peanuts // Bees Knees Food Co. // Chicago, IL
Appetizers are more than just a way to quell anticipatory grumbles as your guests await the spread to come — they’re your first impression, and stale party mix is like a limp handshake. Upgrade the bar snack with a pop of lime, kick of cayenne, and the building burn of chipotle, to keep the cooling cocktails flowing.
How-To Tip #2: Bored Board?
Meat and cheese might be standard shin-dig fare, but that doesn’t mean it has to be your party’s meat and potatoes. Your brews are craft, your cocktails artisanal — your charcuterie should be made to match. Pep up that platter with these goodies:
Whiskey Salami // Creminelli // Salt Lake City, UT
From a family with 400 years of sausage making prowess — legend has it they cured meat for General Badoglio, Mussolini’s replacement — comes this Yankee twist on a Piedmont classic. Inspired by their neighbors at High West Distillery (and perhaps a tipple or two of their product) the guys at Creminelli marinated heritage pork in High West’s spicy-sweet Son of Bourye bourbon-rye blend.
Porter Crackers // Beer Flats // Cincinnati, OH
If beer is liquid bread, and crackers crunchy beer, these take the connection literally. A hearty mix of whole grains, butter, and, of course, a rich malty brew gives these crisps enough strength to support serious slabs of sausage, or sate your beer-munchies all on their own with notes of dark rye, molasses, and a touch of cocoa.
Raw Honeycomb // Savannah Bee Co. // Savannah, GA
Take 550 bees and 2 million flower blossoms and you get this: a gleaming golden ingot of pure Georgia honey, nothing added — not even air, since it’s still sealed wax-tight in the comb. (It’s edible, by the way, and good for allergies.) This is the good stuff, what the bees save for themselves. They’d gorge straight; we prefer a drizzle over your meat and cheese to balance their salt with a tangy floral buzz.
How-To Tip #3: Shelve the Shaker
Bourbon Barrel Aged Old Fashioned // Bittermilk // Charleston, SC
We know you want to roll up your sleeves and flash those vinyasa-toned forearms, shaking up cocktails for your ogling guests — but they don’t want to watch; they want to drink, and you should be shmoozing, not sweating it out behind the bar. So do what the trendiest mixology meccas do and plan ahead with DIY drinks. Bittermilk’s mixer is perfect. It has everything but the booze: a classic blend of real-deal herbs and spices like gentian root and cinchona bark, sultry sweet with burnt sugar and a dash of orange, and aged in Willett bourbon barrels. Mix four parts bourbon to one part Bittermilk, fill a couple swing-top bottles, set the bar with an ice bucket and bowl of orange twists, and save the shaking for the dance floor.
How-To Tip #4: Log Out
FDA Chocolate Salami // Dude, Sweet Chocolate // Dallas, TX
Take your dinner party full circle — with a twist. Deke your stuffed-to-the-gills guests (by now tipsy enough to fall for it) with a show-stopping salami log. More meat? they’ll whine, as you slice off a hunk. Not quite: Here’s richness of another sort, a decadent roll of dried figs and dates in dark French chocolate and almond marzipan. An idea born in a Dallas dive bar — as all such monstrous hybrids must be — the chocolate salami is so wrong, it’s just right.