One of my friends recently posted a rant on the thoughtlessness of
those who show up to the party clutching only the alcohol they plan to
use themselves. I definitely agree with her message, but wasn't sure
about the circumstances surrounding said event: did the party involve
food, or a birthday? Was it simply an anonymous rooftop gathering
where everyone drinking out of black bodega bags must fend for
themselves? In Brooklyn and Queens, chances are you will be invited to
no less than 10 private parties on a given weekend with varying
degrees of etiquette expectations.
I personally hate to show up empty handed, but if I'm hosting a casual
gathering and specify that I'm supplying 2 boxes of wine, I'd
logically expect people to bring only whatever they want to consume
that isn't wine. On the other hand, my ex rarely if ever brought
anything, because he would carefully explain that "in my country, the
hosts of the party take care of you and do not expect anything in
return" (old habits die hard, and this meant I usually shouldered the
contribution for both of us). The objective of a party is to
facilitate frolic and debauchery, not hand-wringing. What to do? I
like to keep a stash of small presents that can be used for many
Macerated vodka cherries are one great option for gatherings in which you suspect you might be judged. If you want to go crazy, you can even create precious labels, or tie a ribbon around the lid. Don't let the presence of Mason jars scare your lazy side, because no canning is involved! All the ingredients are available within a few blocks radius.
Things you need:
Mason/Ball jars (99 cent store...do not use plastic!)
Vodka (doesn't have to be fancy, but please nothing of rubbing alcohol quality)
The process is simple:
1. remove stems from cherries and rinse
2. place into jars
3. cover with vodka
4. hide from plain view, so you can forget about them for at least a month.
You want to make sure you've fully submerged the cherries in vodka to kill any microorganisms on the surface. Leave as little space between the vodka and the lid to limit exposure to oxygen (this will turn the fruit brown, and may affect the taste of the vodka). Feel free to experiment with other fruits and alcohol! I've just made batches with mangoes/pineapples/peaches and spiced rum. Brandy and pears are another great combination (especially if you keep them in halves and whip on the grill for dessert). Just be aware of the fiber content of your fruits, since some will break down more quickly than others. Also, whenever you break the skin you have to be extra careful about immersing in the booze completely. The advantage to cutting the fruit is that you can reduce the maceration time to about a week. Refrigeration is not necessary if the fruit is completely covered by liquid as it should be, but I keep mine in the crisper so they stay out of sight, making it easier to resist popping a few in my mouth every so often.
Upon presentation, by all means make a scene of slowly placing it in front of the other liquor offerings. If the host is in proximity, feel free to establish transitional ownership by caressing the jar while distinguishing yourself as a guest who cares enough to plan ahead. You might even get lucky.