I have to say, one of my favorite activities that's been getting me through quarantine is hosting little at-home happy hours. It's that perfect treat at the end of a long work week and beats sitting in the cold for outdoor dining. To set the tone, think fancy cheese, olives, fresh baguettes and the perfect Cabernet Sauvignon from Knotty Vines. Sounds like heaven, right?
Though I don't always stick to pairing rules, I highly recommend doing a quick google search to see what cheeses + snacks pair well with the beverage you're enjoying. You'd be surprised what a difference it makes in the whole at home happy hour experience.
My go-to lately has been the Cabernet Sauvignon from Knotty Vines and it pairs perfectly with cheddar/hard cheeses, pretzels and salty olives. The combo of the salty snacks plus the smooth taste of the cab with mocha and black cherry undertones is *chefs kiss*
The best part about happy hour at home is that you get to keep all of the goodies instead of leaving them for staff to clear away, which is super budget-friendly. I typically get 2-3 HH spreads out of each round of snacks if I'm being smart about portions. Luckily for us, yummy wines don't need to be expensive–Knotty Vines tends to run between $10-$20 per bottle, depending upon location. So on top of getting to stay in your sweatpants for happy hour, you also end up saving a ton of money by doing it at home.
My favorite tip is to spice it up! Don't just go for the to-be-expected happy hour snacks. Adding a little twist keeps things interesting and is what really amplifies your happy hour to be on-par with restaurant experiences. Some of my favorite items include:
- Spiced bar nuts–made easily in the oven by roasting mixed nuts with a little rosemary, olive oil and pinch of brown sugar
- Cheese crisps–you can buy them pre-made by a brand called Parm Crisps, or make them in the oven by spreading thin rounds of shredded cheese on aluminum foil until browned + let cool
- Honey comb–fresh honey is unbelievably delicious on soft cheeses and is pretty for the plate
- Mini Pickles (Cornichons)–the tanginess of these mini pickles is a perfect palette cleanser in between cheeses and breaks up the heaviness of some of the other items