To celebrate our friend’s 40th birthday, his wife organized a surprise birthday party complete with a program, elaborate decorations, a bitters tasting, a take-your-own-infused-spirit home, and a roast! She enlisted Jason’s help ahead of time for all the graphic designing, of course. He made an 8-page program, designed a banner, and more.
On the day of the party we made ourselves available early to help set up, and Erin was put to work making a “40” out of photographs of the birthday boy, friends, and family. It was really a lot more tricky to get this onto the wall than you’d think, and it took a while to get just right!
We cooked, cleaned, organized, and more with a few other friends and got everything ready for the big moment. No one was quite clear on the best way to handle the “surprise”—do we turn off all the lights and hide in the dark? Do we leave the lights on to create a semblance of normalcy? Do we even shout “surprise”? There was a lot of frantic whispering but the truth is, it doesn’t matter: In the confusion of entering your home and finding people there shouting at you, it probably doesn’t much matter how well lit it was or what exactly they’re saying! Finally, we could eat the food.
The organized activity for the night was a bitters tasting. Six different bitters were provided (Angostura, Peychaud’s, Regans’ No. 6 Orange, Dutch’s, Bittermens Xocolatl Mole, Fee Brothers Grapefruit) and they were each sampled 3 ways: plain, in seltzer, and in an otherwise bitters-less Back 40 cocktail (bourbon, maple syrup, lemon juice). It was really interesting how each could be so different in all 3 tastings. One that smelled delicious was vile to Erin. A few were transformed completely when added to a drink.
We also got to make our own infusions. Rum and bourbon were the base liquors; choices for additions included lots of herbs, zest of many citrus, dried fruit, and spices. We chose quite different flavors: Jason went all citrus with Meyer lemon, lemon, orange, and lime, while Erin went with her favorite herb, rosemary, along with Meyer lemon and apricot. We’ll crack them open in a few days and see how they came out!
We had such a great night and hope he did too!