Beat the Winter Blues with a Fiesta

Party-Gyle by | Feb 2012 | Issue #61

It just got seriously cold where I live, and it should stay like this for a while—scarves, sneezes, wind tunnels and all. No matter what’s going on with global warming, it’s no picnic in the park these gray winter days. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have a fiesta in your living room.

I can think of many good reasons to don the sombrero and grab the maracas in the midst of freezing temperatures. Like, um … it’s Mexican Flag Day on February 24? You got a tortilla press as a holiday gift? It’s another reason to drink an assortment of beers with your friends? Whatever floats your boat. You could just invent your own holiday this February to warm up to a few new winter beers. But there really isn’t a better way to warm up than throwing a hot sauce-drenched carnival at home. Plus, it sure beats the hell out of fashioning a gathering after those festive Inuit tribesmen.

The Taco Party
You know the drill: meats, like grilled steak, chicken and mole pulled pork, in bowls, and sauces, sour cream and other toppings strewn all over the table. There’s nothing quite easier and messier to host than the taco party. Tidy it up by serving a few warm Mexican staples made ahead, like a hearty black bean soup and baked enchiladas, too. Since tacos are meant to be eaten by the dozens, it’s a good way to try out numerous beer pairings with them. Have a ballot box for everyone to vote for their favorite pairing, and find out which beers worked best according to your friends.

Suggested pairings:
Mole Pork Taco: zesty IPA
Avocado and Chicken Taco: light Brown Ale
Cumin-rubbed Steak Taco: lightly spiced Porter

The Spanish Fry
Not to be confused with the above, but a tapas party is just the theme to latch onto for the more adventurous host. Here, you can make a spread of simple treats, like garlic-sautéed shrimp, olives, chorizo and saffron rice, and some not-so-simple ones, too, like seared octopus or croquettes. Just don’t forget the patatas bravas—deep-fried white potato wedges smothered in a spicy, red paprika sauce—which is perhaps the best party food and way better than “French” fries. The more tapas, the merrier, since this style of eating was literally invented to help wash down an even heartier appetite for beer and wine. But we all know fried food goes exquisitely well with beer.

Suggested pairings:
Fried, spicy food: effervescent Pale Ales, Pilsners and IPAs

The Island Luau
Love life again by shaking your booty in a grass skirt. This is a fun way to party, but what does it have to do with either beer, you say, or Mexico? Not much, except than instead of drinking the requisite fruity cocktails, you could try your hand at making some inventive beer cocktails. A mai tai with some extra bitterness from a Double IPA? Piña Colada with a splash of Chocolate Stout? Get into the swing of a new style of serving beer—and your hula hoop.

More island-inspired beer cocktails:
Hawaiian punch with citrus or apricot-flavored ale
Hefeweizen and banana rum rickey