As the weather gets warmer and the nights get longer, all I want to do is be outside. I love summer and one of my favorite things about summer is nights spent outside eating, drinking and laughing with friends and family.
Sarah Crosland, author of Food Lovers’ Guide to Charlotte and 100 Things to Do in Charlotte Before You Die, is the consummate hostess and throws some of the best parties I’ve ever attended. She has recently partnered with Chef Alyssa to co-host the Relish Carolina Social House dinner series this summer (spots still available). I reached out to Sarah to get entertaining ideas for Charlotte Agenda readers as we come upon prime al fresco summer cookout/dining/entertaining time.
As always, Crosland took it to the next level. Some very lucky friends and I were invited to her home to sample custom Crosland cocktails (she is a great mixologist) and some of her go to easy entertaining food ideas. Have I mentioned how much I love my job writing for Charlotte Agenda?!?
She served two custom cocktails, her homemade ahi tuna tartare, and charcuterie and cheese selections. For almost four hours, we drank, ate and marveled at the details Sarah put into our evening. Sunflowers decorated her table set with all of our food. She used banana leaves to line the plate the ahi tuna tartare was served on. She mixed and matched her glassware, trays and plates to make for a more relaxed, yet elegant feeling. I am now on the hunt for vintage inspired old fashion glasses, faux Hermes trays, and items to set up my home bar cart that I purchased from the Sleepy Poet Antique Mall.
She shared the recipes with me for the cocktails, the ahi tuna tartare, as well as some of her go to entertaining tips, and now I’m sharing them with Agenda readers. Bon appétit!
Crosland’s Cocktail Recipes:
Light ‘n Sunny
“This is my summer twist on the traditional ‘Dark ‘n Stormy’ cocktail, which is made with dark rum and ginger beer.”
2 ounces gold rum
4 ounces ginger beer
2 tablespoons mint simple syrup
2 dashes peach bitters
Sprig of mint garnish
Pour all ingredients over ice in an Old Fashioned glass, stir slowly to mix. Add mint sprig as garnish.
Coming Up Roses
“This simple pink and bubbly floral cocktail is perfect for a girls’ night, or if you’re hosting a spring bridal shower or luncheon.”
1.5 ounce prosecco
1 ounce Belvoir Fruit Farms Elderflower & Rose Lemonade
0.5 ounce St. Germaine liqueur
1 Lemon twist to garnish
Pour all ingredients into a chilled champagne flute, garnish with lemon twist
Recipe for Crosland’s Ahi Tuna Tartare on Wonton Crisps
“This dish looks sophisticated, but is remarkably easy to make. The key is getting really fresh tuna, which I like to buy at Plaza Midwood’s new Catch On seafood market.”
20 wonton wrappers, cut into triangles and deep fried
1 cup cooking oil
1 cup premade guacamole
4 Banana leaves
Tuna Tartare ingredients:
3/4 lb fresh tuna steak, cut into small cubes
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon sriracha
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons fresh chopped green onions
Salt and fresh-squeeze lime juice to taste
Mix tuna tartare ingredients in a mixing bowl. Place on top of fried wonton triangles. Add small dollop of guacamole.
Place on top of cut strips of banana leaves and add dots of soy glaze and sriracha on plate.
Crosland’s Tips and Tricks to Entertaining like a Pro
Favorite spots to shop for entertaining needs:
“I’m obsessed with Earl’s Grocery’s cocktail mixers section. It gives me ideas for fun ones to make—and it has mixers perfect for the cocktail novice. Plus, they offer monthly mixology classes for anyone who wants to learn from the pros.”
Super G Mart
“This massive international grocery store on Independence can feel a little intimidating. But it has some seriously cool stuff. I love it for things like the banana leaves with Tuna Tartare dish, but also for its incredible selection of things like teas and spices to mix in drinks.”
Orrman’s Cheese Shop
“Cheese is the easiest appetizer that everyone loves and Orrman’s at 7th Street Market has such an impressive local selection. It’s the perfect place to stop by if you’re having a spontaneous get-together and just need something for people to munch on.”
Crosland’s Bar Essentials
(1) “A bottle of ‘go to’ liquor. I love gin, so I always have Hendricks or Cardinal around.”
(2) “Bitters. Definitely the classic Angostura, but also something fun like lavender or orange.”
(3) “At least one whiskey that’s nice enough that you’d serve it neat.”
(4) “Great tonics—like Jack Rudy or Fever-Tree—can make a drink.”
(5) “Fresh fruit! A bowl of limes or lemons looks great on a bar and adds a nice twist to drinks.”
The thing I appreciate most about Sarah’s entertaining style is the care and effort she puts into everything she creates and serves. Her focus is ensuring all of her guests walk away with a positive and unique experience. She has inspired me to branch out of my food shopping comfort zone (Super G, anyone).
I’m looking forward to attending one of the Relish events Sarah is co-hosting with Chef Alyssa as I know it will be an experience, an adventure, and absolutely delicious.
Follow Sarah’s culinary and travel adventures on all the socials. Also, you can see adorable pictures of her pups Rosie and Pawley.