As the general manager at Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star XV Beacon‘s signature restaurant Mooo for the past five years, Alexa DeMarco certainly knows a few things about keeping people happy around a dinner table. It’s no wonder then that when FTG’s Boston correspondent Melanie Nayer wanted to gather tips for hosting a memorable holiday party, she knew exactly whom to ask.
What are your secrets to hosting a successful holiday party?
My secret is simple – just plan as much as you can ahead and keep details simple yet elegant and meaningful. I shop year-round to find interesting, unique pieces to present food and drinks in. I’ve also been collecting cocktail napkins, whether they’re holiday related, festive or just plain old funny to the party guests. You should always add a personal touch to say something about you. This will spike up conversations, get your guests mingling and ease the pressure of being the hostess with mostess.
Do you have a favorite dish you serve at the holidays? What do you pair it with?
I do not typically play favorites, but the holidays just would not be right without my mother’s sautéed bacon and garlic brussels sprouts. Enough said. For the pairing – because I have been experimenting with more scotches, whiskeys and bourbon-blended drinks – my favorite at the moment is the Blood & Sand. It is one of the few classic mixed drinks that includes scotch, so the guys can enjoy it while the ladies keep up, too.
What is the most requested holiday drink at Mooo?
The Anjou Pear and the Pumpkin Pie Martini are two of the most requested holiday drinks at Mooo. We all know once we get that first order in that the holiday season has officially begun.
What are some must-try items on the Mooo menu this holiday season?
Our roasted beef marrow bones. Everything from The Flintstones-like presentation to the herbed butter for your grilled toast is spot on. The Bar Harbor mussels mariner’s style served with chopped tomatoes and chorizo is another must-try. You find yourself comparing every other dish that comes after back to this starter. Then, the season would not be complete without celebrating our squash brûlée. Served in our cast-iron staubs, nothing is better than hearing the crunch from cracking into the first bite. The aroma alone is enough to make you feel home for the holidays.
During Melissa Cone’s two decades in the restaurant business, she learned that she’s most comfortable behind the bar – and that’s typically where you’ll find the veteran mixologist at Mooo. The beloved eatery is known for its extensive wine list and house-marinated meats, but sitting at the bar has its perks – the chief one being a front-row seat to Cone and her fellow bartenders as they carefully build the aforementioned Pumpkin Pie Martini and other cocktails that appear on the bar menu each season.
If you’re hosting at home, here are two easy recipes from Cone that are sure to bring some holiday cheer around the Christmas tree:
1 ounce Stoli vanilla vodka
1/4 ounce lemon juice
1/2 ounce st. Germain liqueur
Shake all of the ingredients together, top with prosecco and garnish with pomegranate seeds.
Caldo Pomme (“Hot Apple”)
First, dip a heated glass rim in a mix of maple syrup, cinnamon and sugar. Then, separately mix the following:
3/4 ounce Stoli vanilla vodka
3/4 ounce Tuaca Italian vanilla-citrus liqueur
3 ounces hot apple cider
1/4 ounce lemon juice
Pour the mixed contents into a glass and top with fresh whipped cream and shaved nutmeg.