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Cocktails for a Cause



By Gay Lyons

Casey Fox, Jesse Mayshark and Amanda Mohney, the team behind Libacious Cocktail Catering, are on a mission.

“We want people who organize fundraisers to think about what they can do to provide a richer experience,” said Jesse.

“It takes effort to make a great event,” said Casey. “We want to take something off their plates. They can concentrate on the mission; we can concentrate on the experience.”

“A private party’s goal is to have a great party,” said Jesse. “For a non-profit party, the party serves a broader purpose.”

“Private parties can come down more to individual tastes,” said Amanda. “For a non-profit, we want to create a magical experience, and we want to reinforce the mission of the group.

The world of non-profit events is a busy, competitive one.

According to Jesse,” If you can become the event people look forward to, that’s the goal.”

“We’re trying to plant the idea that a good cocktail can set the tone of the event,” said Amanda.

“The bar is the first place people go,” said Casey.

“It’s a chance to make a good impression that a lot of groups miss out on.” Libacious takes a customized approach to working with a non-profit organization.

“We always talk to them about what they’re doing,” said Amanda. “For the Green Thumb Gala at the Botanical Garden last year, we focused on their mission in developing the cocktail. For the Imagination Library’s

Once Upon a Time Gala, we tried to create a sense of place. For the McClung Museum’s All that Glitters Golden Age Cocktail Party, we worked more with a sense of time than place.”

“We do in-person menu consultations and in-person tastings,” said Jesse. “We always want to know what the other elements of the event are. We want to know about the food and the décor.”

“Décor is important,” said Casey. “We bring things for set-up. We have linens; we can bring glasses; we can bring extra flowers. We put so much into it. We are always ready to talk about the drink.”

“I enjoy the storytelling aspect,” said Jesse. “Individual cocktails have stories and histories. Ingredients have their own stories and histories. A well-crafted drink can give you a sense of the place or the theme. It puts you in the story. A good fundraiser takes you to a fantasy place. You’re not just handing someone a delicious drink.”

LIBACIOUS COCKTAIL CATERING SHARES
PROCESS & RECIPES

We created The Barnraiser for Knoxville Botanical Garden’s 2017 Green Thumb Gala. For this outdoor fall event, we were asked to create a sophisticated riff on an Ice Pick (vodka and iced tea). We brewed assam tea with autumn spices and used housemade golden fig syrup and orange blossom water to add sweetness and a floral note. The aroma from the sage, star anise and orange garnish complemented the flavors beautifully.

Creating Vicki Brown’s Planters Punch was fun because we got to put on our historian hats for the McClung Museum’s All that Glitters Golden Age Cocktail Party. We looked up the earliest recipes for Planter's Punch, a popular drink in the 18th and 19th centuries, and used those as our jumping off point. We ended up with a delightful rum punch that appealed to modern tastes yet gave a nod to the drink's long history.

The Imagination Library went to Spain for its Once Upon a Time Gala this year, so we created a springtime sangria that was fruity but not cloyingly sweet. We enhanced Spanish garnacha with a housemade strawberry-black pepper syrup, dry sherry and fresh citrus.

THE BARNRAISER

• 30 oz. spiced tea concentrate
• 60 oz. water
• 16 oz. fig turbinado syrup
• 9 oz. lemon juice
• 1/8 tsp. orange blossom water
• 750 ml. vodka

Combine all ingredients in container that holds at least one gallon. Serve in rocks glass. Garnish with sage leaf, star anise and orange slice.

SPICED TEA CONCENTRATE

• 1 qt. water
• 7 T. assam tea
• 2 tsp. allspice berries, roughly crushed
• 2 tsp. black peppercorns,
roughly crushed
• 2 cinnamon sticks

Combine ingredients and bring to boil. Steep tea four minutes. Strain and top with enough water to yield 30 ounces.

FIG-TURBINADO SYRUP
2 c. water
2 c. turbinado sugar
2 c. dried mission figs, roughly chopped

Dissolve sugar in water and bring to boil. Add figs. Bring back to boil and remove from heat. Steep one hour. Strain, pressing fruit gently, and chill. Makes 20 ounces.

 

VICKI BROWN’S PLANTER’S PUNCH
• 6 oz. Myers rum
• 6 oz. water
• 3 oz. fresh lime juice
• ¾ oz. grenadine (housemade)
• 3 ¼ oz. simple syrup
• ¼ tsp. orange bitters

Combine ingredients. Serve in punch cups garnished with orange slice and mint leaf. Makes 4 6 servings.

 

 SANGRIA ESPECIAL

• 2 oz. red wine (garnacha)
• 1 ¼ oz. dry sherry
• ¾ oz. lemon juice
• ½ oz. orange juice
• ¾ oz. strawberry syrup
• angostura bitters 1 dash

Combine ingredients. Pour over ice in wine glass. Garnish with strawberry and mint. Makes one serving.

1 lb. fresh strawberries,
quartered
1 c. sugar
1 T. black peppercorns,
roughly crushed

Combine all ingredients and let sit 24-36 hours until strawberries are thoroughly macerated. Strain into a jar or bottle and refrigerate.

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