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Sandra Spalding

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The director of marketing and events for Twin Liquors shares her how-tos for playing hostess without a hitch. 

By Madison Matous, Photos by Maddy Hill

Holidays are call for celebrations. Celebrations are call for a toast. And a toast is a call for drinks and a hostess to help serve them. In what is already a hectic time of year, the idea of throwing (let alone coordinating) a party can seem overwhelming. Fortunately for us, Sandra Spalding, the director of marketing and events at Twin Liquors, is a party-planning pro who happily divulges her foolproof wisdom on how to have your party and enjoy it too.

When Spalding stepped through the doors of Twin Liquors 17 years ago, she became fascinated with the makings of a good drink.

“Once you learn the basics of the classic cocktails and understand the recipes, then you can pull out one ingredient and put a different ingredient in to make a whole new drink,” she explains.

Spalding says she has always loved hosting parties, a finessed talent she now uses to plan parties on behalf of Twin Liquors. Like a good drink, her celebrations have a recipe that can either be followed to a T or changed to fit the needs of the hostess. There are three phases to her parties, Spalding emphasizes, but she stresses the key to any successful party is in the prep. The more prep you do, after all, the more you can relax in the moment.

Phase 1: The Welcome Party 

Spalding’s favorite way to start a party is with a punch—a punch bowl, that is. Her personal favorite is an Irish whiskey punch, but if that sounds too pungent, you may prefer a bubbly punch, an often popular twist.

“I love an Irish Whiskey punch. It’s really strong, though. Or you can do a Champagne punch,” she says, noting Champagne punch is a drink known for its adaptability and versatility.

To avoid a watery punch, Spalding suggests filling a clean, empty cardboard milk carton with water, then freezing it overnight. When the time comes, all you need to do is simply peel the milk carton off and place your newly formed block of ice in the punchbowl. A welcome drink, she says, is the perfect way to help guests feel at ease and avoid that awkward moment before the party really gets started.

Phase 2: The Main Event

Have the glasses set up and the alcohol ready to pour. The choice of alcohol will, of course, be dependent on the type of party you are having, Spalding says. For example, for a more casual event, she recommends having some rosé and white wines chilled for the ladies, as well as some specialty beers stocked so there is something for everyone. For a more formal event, Spalding suggests setting out your choice of liquor with mixers, fun garnishes and recipe cards for guests to make their own drinks.

“Think about things that are easy for your guests to grab and pour,” she says. “Then [the party]gets fun and interactive. Someone asks for a suggestion and it helps break the ice for your guests.”

Phase 3: The After-party

“Toward the end of the night, when it’s time to go, some people go, but there’s always a core group that stays,” Spalding says, adding this is a special, almost secret phase of the night, and it’s her favorite. “Have that special bottle of cognac or rare whiskey set aside so that people won’t think you’re planning it, but you’re planning it.”

After all, there’s no better way to end a party than by being surrounded with good friends, lively conversation and a final nightcap.

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