If it wasn’t shared on social media, did it even happen?
With fairy lights, candles, and (hopefully) piles of fresh snow, the holidays are always Instagrammable—and your menu should be, too. To help take our entertaining game to the next level, associate editor Claire Stern got a lesson on how to make picture-perfect cocktails and appetizers from chefs and event planners Andrew Cavitolo, Tyler Lyne, and Bobby Stern of Riviera Caterers, just in time for next week’s parties.
The chefs, whose whimsical presentations could give Willy Wonka a run for his money, shared their favorite show-stopping bites and not one, but two, festive drinks served in adorable mini bottles. “The idea is to make everything feel a bit more personalized,” Stern tells InStyle. “We like to present our first course as a present,” adds Cavitolo, who plates dishes in cookie tins, wrapped in ribbon. “It’s a fun and innovative way to spice things up for the holidays.”
Watch the video above for more thoughtful tips, and read on for the recipes.
Little Big Mac
Guests will love opening the tiny to-go container to find a micro version of the beloved fast-food combo. What’s more, the box keeps the slider warm until it’s ready to be eaten. “What I like to do is put stickers on the bottom of the box,” says Cavitolo, so consider including a little holiday message or writing the names of your guests.
For the burgers
20 beef sliders, cut 1/4-inch thick
4 oz special sauce
20 slices of American cheese (2 slices per slider)
Iceberg lettuce, shredded (as needed)
10 Pillsbury biscuit buns
For the special sauce
1. Whisk all ingredients together until smooth.
2. Taste and season.
For the burgers
1. Form mini burger patties and cook in an oven for 5 minutes.
2. Punch out the Pillsbury biscuit dough buns the same size as burger patties and brush with egg yolk wash and sprinkle with seasame seeds.
3. Bake biscuit buns as per instructions on container then slice in three sections.
4. Melt the American cheese on the patties and you're ready to assemble.
1. Spread the special sauce on all sides of the bun.
2. Lay a patty, lettuce, middle bun, patty, lettuce, and finally top bun.
3. Plan in oven to warm through and enjoy!
“Infuse the eggnog with the bourbon ahead of time so you don’t have to play bartender,” says Stern
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp nutmeg
2 cups milk
1 cup heavy cream
5 oz bourbon
1. Steep the milk and cream with nutmeg over medium heat.
2. Whisk yolks and sugar until thick and ribbon like.
3. Pour in hot milk and whisk. Add back to pan and cook to 155˚F.
4. Chill down, then add bourbon.
Although Stern is particular to Ron Zacapa ($43; klwines.com), you can use any dark rum for this libation. “You can serve these either cold or warm, but if you do serve them warm, don’t put the rum in ahead of time,” he warns, as the bottles tend to combust.
4 cups apple juice
1/2 cup sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp clove
1 tsp all spice
1 tsp nutmeg
6 oz rum
1. Steep all ingredients in a pot. Bring to a light simmer, then add rum until desired strength.
“We try to keep it as seasonal as possible,” says Lyne of the dish, which contains preserved tomatoes, charred scallions, and thinly sliced redball radish, finished with a spiced onion marmalade and basil tops.
10 burratas ($12 each; murrayscheese.com)
20 oz red onion marmalade
10 oz pesto
2 oz confit tomatoes
10 portions mesclun greens
30 leaves of baby basil, picked
30 scallions, blanched
1. Combine in a bowl and mix well.