Sometime last year, I was relaxing on the rooftop lounge of one of Chicago's chicer hotels, taking part in their happy hour. Despite the lovely surroundings, it was a disappointing experience...unappetizing appetizers and (gasp!) poor service. The only redeeming thing about the whole experience was that it introduced me to what is now my favorite cocktail, the French 77.
"Pfft" scoffed one of my friends, sipping on the champagne and elderflower concoction, and giving our incompetent server the stink eye. "We could totally recreate this at one of our places."
"Totally," I agreed.
Thus, "Mon Dieu, it's Monday!" was born. Click below for details on how to create a stupidly easy (but supremely chic) happy hour of your own.
Right-click and "Save As" to your computer. Using any image editor (MS Paint, for instance), type your event's pertinent information in the white space to the right. Save as a .gif and send it off!
I consulted with local chef Tom Saaristo (please check out his web site...it's a treasure trove of ideas) to develop a selection of hors d'oeuvre that could either be made ahead or made the day of with very little effort.
Blue cheese straws (recipe in link)
Brie & raspberry tartlettes (recipe in link)
Citrus thyme olives
2 cups pitted Niçoise olives, 3 sprigs fresh thyme, Zest from 1 fresh lemon, and juice from same lemon. Put the olives in a Ziploc bag. Add the thyme, lemon zest and lemon juice. Seal the bag and set at room temperature 4 to 6 hours, or overnight.
Brioche w/ truffle butter
Toast thin slices of brioche. Cut slices into small squares, and dab a little bit of truffle butter (available at Whole Foods) on each square. It's rather pungent, so go easy! Please note, these can not be prepared in advance.
Smoked salmon canapés
Smoked salmon (again, got it at Whole Foods), cream cheese, baguette slices, butter. Mix smoked salmon with cream cheese. This can be done ahead of time. Before serving, put a very thin layer of butter on the baguette slices, which will keep the bread from getting soggy. Top with the salmon mixture and a little sprig of fresh dill or supreme of lemon.
There are recipes out there, but honestly, I just bought mine at the store. I personally like the mini meringues.
The impetus for this event!
1 shot St. Germain elderflower liqueur (available at bigger liquor stores, i.e. Sam's or Binny's)
1/2 shot fresh squeezed lemon juice
Fill glass with Champagne
Garnish with optional lemon twist
Add a few extra touches to make it a special occasion. For instance, tie little black and white bows around the stems of your champagne glasses (above).
Arrange burgundy and white mini calla lillies into a shape reminiscent of can-can dancers:
Stamp fleur-de-lis onto heavy paper napkins:
Music: Interesting...I seem to have a lot of French music on my iTunes. Not sure how that happened. Anyway, my suggestions include
"Paris" by Yael Naïm
And of course, the last ingredient...a lovely group of friends who are ready to kick off the workweek with French flair!
Photo Credit: Pamela Larson