Ahhhhh… summer is here, and we are excited to write about a time-honored tradition on many lakes in the northwoods: the Cocktail Cruise. This quintessential summer activity is truly one of our favorite ways to enjoy the lake.
What does it take to pull off a successful cocktail cruise? The answer is simple, which is why we think it may just be the perfect way to entertain. All you need is a boat, friends and/or family, your drink of choice, and some simple, delicious snacks. Whether you are picking up fellow lake friends or bringing your own, the cocktail cruise is sure to please.
In our opinion, there are two ideal times for a cocktail cruise:
- Happy Hour: Can you think of a better way to enjoy happy hour? We can’t! Anytime late afternoon until dinner, a pre-dinner cocktail and appetizer cruise is the best happy hour we’ve experienced.
- Golden Hour: A post-dinner “golden hour cruise” magically enhances the colors of nature, inviting relaxation and enjoyment. Savoring a nightcap while wrapping it up with a beautiful sunset can’t be beat.
Before the first cocktail cruise of the season, it’s helpful to take a little time to be sure you’re ready. Here are some suggestions:
Swab the Deck! Once the pontoon comes out of storage, we invest some time to give it a thorough cleaning. It’s necessary maintenance, and well worth it. And with an “all hands on deck” approach, it can be done fairly quickly. We stock the boat with paper towels, window, vinyl, and all-purpose cleaners, and garbage bags. A hand-held vacuum is perfect for quick touch ups to do away with crumbs, bugs and leaves.
Stock Up. Besides cleaning supplies, we also like to keep a bin stocked with sunscreen and bug spray, as well as extra hats, visors and beach towels. We think soft-sided portable coolers are great for transporting food and drinks to and from the boat. They are lightweight and do a nice job of insulating for short boat rides. And don’t forget to bring binoculars so you can get a close up view of eagles, ospreys and loons!
Set the Mood. Sometimes we look forward to a fun, social cruise where music plays a big part of the entertainment. Other times we enjoy a relaxing, peaceful end to the day, with the focus on nature and conversation and music in the background. Either way, we like to curate playlists of various musical genres to best suit the mood.
As we’ve mentioned, we think the cocktail cruise may be the easiest way to entertain. It is no-pressure hosting at its finest: no cleaning the cabin and no preparing an elaborate meal. While it certainly works to spontaneously grab a bottle of chilled wine or toss some beer in a cooler, why not make it a bit more special? We’ll get you started, with an easy-to-prepare yet impressive snack offering and a batch cocktail recipe to take your cocktail cruise up a notch.
Amy’s original recipe for Sweet & Salty Buffalo Snack Mix is a unique and delicious twist on Chex Mix. It’s a nice combination of salty and sweet, and packs enough heat that you’ll be reaching for a drink before you know it! We think Palomas are the perfect partner for Sweet & Salty Buffalo Snack Mix, and we’ve included a recipe for Pitcher O’Palomas, a batch recipe that’s easy to make. This crowd-pleasing cocktail will look extra special with a salty rim and fruit garnish.
Have you heard of Jar-Cuterie or Cup-Cuterie? Think charcuterie platter to-go — it’s a fantastic option for guests on a cocktail cruise. We suggest using Sweet & Salty Buffalo Snack Mix as the base for your Cup-Cuterie. With a little bit of everything in a convenient plastic cup, this snack is easy to distribute to guests and fits perfectly into pontoon cup holders.
With summer in full swing, we look forward to cocktail cruising with cabin guests and lake friends alike. We hope our tips and recipes inspire you to do the same. Cheers!