Food & Drink

Feast Q&A: Cooking Channel’s cocktail duo offer party tips

Mixing it up for the holidays: Cooking Channel cocktail experts Alie Ward (left) and Georgia Hardstark know how to put some spark into entertaining.
Mixing it up for the holidays: Cooking Channel cocktail experts Alie Ward (left) and Georgia Hardstark know how to put some spark into entertaining.

Every hostess wants to have fun. That’s how Alie Ward and Georgia Hardstark approach any get-together. They’re playful, fun-loving party experts, especially when it comes to crafting one-of-a-kind cocktails.

Ward, who grew up near Folsom “when El Dorado Hills was a cow pasture,” and Hardstark became best friends over (many) drinks after meeting at a Los Angeles dive bar. They discovered they had a unique flair for mixing it up, cocktail wise.

Their careers as cocktail mavens officially started in 2008 with an online joke. In a YouTube video, they created the farcical McNuggetini (McDonald’s chocolate shake blended with vanilla vodka in a martini glass rimmed with BBQ sauce and garnished with a Chicken McNugget). Called the “world’s most disgusting martini,” the McNuggetini caught the attention of the New York Times and CNN.

The Food Network saw their star potential. Dressed in vintage party clothes, the duo hosted “Drinks With Alie & Georgia” and “Classy Ladies With Alie & Georgia.” For the Cooking Channel, they took their cocktail making on the road with “Tripping Out With Alie & Georgia.” Currently, they contribute to Cooking Channel’s “Unique Sweets” and are filming a new project to be announced soon. Their recipe-packed online Cocktail Generator offers a taste of their bountiful booze know-how.

We caught up with them before cocktail hour:

How do you approach holiday entertaining?

Hardstark: I look at it very thoughtfully. The devil is in the details. You can plan an outrageous over-the-top party, but it’s those little details that make a party more special.

Ward: It’s what I love to do. You already have a theme – it’s the holidays. But spice it up with a party game, a cocktail your guests have never tried and some very interesting food combinations. I love something really fresh and surprising.

What games would you suggest?

Ward: I’m always up for a crazy game of Taboo. At a small dinner party, that’s always fun. I like tablecloths that you can draw on; that becomes very engaging. You can see what other people are drawing or write little poems.

Hardstark: Or play “reindeer games”: Answer holiday trivia questions and win little gifts. Or have everyone dress as a character from their favorite holiday movie and people have to guess which one.

What about drinks?

Hardstark: Provide some wine, beer and sodas, of course. Champagne is fun, too. Instead of having a bar full of big bottles of booze and mixers, we like to have one or two signature cocktails for the evening. Make a lot of it ahead of time. It makes (hosting) simpler. The drink is a treat and your guests don’t have to decide what they’re having.

Ward: We really love to experiment with cocktails. Sometimes, they get really zany; they definitely may not appeal to everyone at your party. But for winter, we love doing hot cocktails (such as) spiked hot chocolate or amaretto coffee. We love to play around with combinations. Right now, cinnamon whiskey is all the rage. I’ve been mixing it with Dolce Gusto Cappuccino (from Nescafé); people go crazy for that.

Do you have any party rules?

Hardstark: I have rules for myself. No. 1: Don’t freak out. Clean up stains off light-colored upholstery, but relax. (For guests), RSVP. Most people forget to do that, but they should.

Ward: My only party rule? You can pretty much do anything – fall asleep in the closet, make a mess – but don’t throw anything off my roof. I have a beautiful rooftop deck. During one party, a guest – while talking to me – threw a half sandwich off the roof right in front of me. Why?!

Call The Bee’s Debbie Arrington, (916) 321-1075. Follow her on Twitter @debarrington.


Cooking Channel’s cocktail experts

These whimsical mixologists know how to pack some extra fun into holiday entertaining.