Tips for simple summer entertaining

Feeling the pinch of summer expenses?

NEW YORK (CNN) – The number of summer weekends is dwindling, and after vacations and activities for the kids, you may feel like your bank account is shrinking too. There’s still plenty of time between now and Labor Day to host simple summer gatherings without breaking the budget.

Every good host wants to please every guest, but catering to every taste and preference can be time-consuming, and costly. Serving one simple, signature cocktail, instead of stocking a full bar, can help cut expenses. Cocktail guru Jonathan Pogash recommends a crowd-pleaser that highlights summer flavors.

“I try to get as much of an idea of what everyone likes. There are some common ingredients that pretty much everyone likes, I think… lemonade, who doesn’t like lemonade? Classic tropical ingredients I think are really great for the wide audience. And just flavors of the summer, banana, coconuts all of these things,” said Pogash.

Another way to make a drink special: an inexpensive garnish that also adds flavor.

“Whether it’s in the nose or flavor, in the pallet. A long grapefruit peel l that I’m expressing over the top, ok throw that in there and some rose petals.”

Hosts can take the same approach to food, items that are easy for guests to self-serve or to share. Pogash would pair his spiced lemonade cocktail with something like this shrimp, sausage and pepper dish.

“The hint of spice to compliment that Andouille sausage, some peppers in there, some bell peppers, sweet peppers in there. I think just really works well, a perfect meal, a perfect cocktail food pairing,” said Pogash.

Make enough for leftovers when cooking on the grill. It could save you the fuel costs of firing up again for another meal.

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