You've probably noticed that your guests are drinking less. If you stock the bar for a party today the same way you would have 10 years ago, chances are you will be left with enough liquor to last you through 1990.
"I advise my customers to cut back on the amount of alcohol they buy for parties; otherwise, they'll get stuck with a lot of unopened bottles," said Huntington Beach caterer Cindy Bruyn, owner of Love at First Bite.
Hillary Harris, co-owner of the Newport Beach-based catering company Cuisine/Cuisine, also has witnessed the decline in alcohol consumption. "I find that when I'm catering in homes, people say, 'Give me a glass of Perrier with a dash of wine,' whereas it used to be, 'Give me wine with a dash of Perrier,' " she noted.
Californians are following a nationwide trend toward reduced alcohol consumption, according to statistics recently released by the state's Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control that show that in 1988 residents drank 1.74 gallons of distilled liquor per person, compared to 2.4 gallons per person in 1981.
If you are planning a party, keep in mind the trend toward moderation and abstinence, the caterers recommended. Don't overstock on whiskey and vodka; do offer a variety of non-alcoholic drinks as well as Chardonnay and gin and tonics.
"Water bars--with a selection of mineral and sparkling waters--are really in right now," Harris said. "The big thing is to serve the water already chilled, rather than to pour it over ice. After all, you shouldn't ruin some beautiful mineral water by pouring it over commercial ice made from water that came from who knows where."
Fancy iced teas also are popular this summer, Harris added. "You can buy tea in all different flavors--raspberry, strawberry, cinnamon," she said. "Try a squeeze of orange instead of lemon, and garnish it with a sprig of mint."
Some guests may prefer non-alcoholic drinks that don't stand out as such, Harris said: "You don't want the nondrinker to feel conspicuous. If you are serving champagne, for instance, serve sparkling cider, which looks like champagne." Mineral water with a splash of fruit juice also blends in well, she noted.
However, no one need feel self-conscious about bypassing the booze. "Nowadays, people don't pay any attention to whether you're drinking or not," Harris said. "I'm on a diet, so I haven't had any alcohol since April. A lot of people have quit drinking for health reasons."
So in demand are non-alcoholic beverages that some restaurants are offering booze-free drink specialties. Among them is T.G.I. Friday's. "People aren't drinking as much, and we had to stay on top of the trend," said Joy Fredrick, marketing manager of the Dallas-based chain.
Club Postnuclear, a night spot in Laguna Beach, offers nothing but non-alcoholic beverages. "The concept of the club was to create an alcohol-free, smoke-free environment," said manager Reagan Wilks, who also pointed out that non-alcoholic wines and beers do not sell as well as the club's non-alcoholic specialty drinks.
"Non-alcoholic beer doesn't move," Wilks said. "People who come in here aren't looking for something that reminds them of alcohol."
"Most rum drinks, such as pina coladas, taste just as good without the alcohol," said Mauricio Franco, deputy manager of El Torito Grill in Newport Beach. "Sweet fruit drinks, like strawberry daiquiris, are great with or without alcohol."
For those who want to serve festive, non-alcoholic drinks while entertaining at home, here are a few recipes from Club Postnuclear and several local restaurants:
CLUB POSTNUCLEAR'S 'PEACH CASSIS FREEZE'
1 fresh peach, peeled and sliced
1 ounce 7-Up
2 ounces bottled fresh peach juice
Splash of non-alcoholic cassis liqueur
Blend all the ingredients except the cassis. Pour into an 8-ounce glass; add cassis without stirring.
CLUB POSTNUCLEAR'S 'BLUEBERRY FRAPPE'
15 to 25 blueberries
2 ounces milk, cream or ice cream
1 ounce 7-Up
Splash of raspberry syrup
Blend all the ingredients except the syrup. Pour in glass. Add syrup without stirring.
CLUB POSTNUCLEAR'S 'FRUIT NECTAR'
1 1/2 ounce each raspberry, blackberry and strawberry syrups
2 ounces each soda water and 7-Up
Pour ingredients over ice cubes into 12-ounce glass. Decorate with fresh fruit.
FRIDAY'S 'PERFECT 10' SMOOTHIE
Scoop of orange sherbet
Fresh peach, peeled and sliced
1 to 2 ounces each pineapple juice, orange juice, plain yogurt
Handful of pecans
Blend ingredients and serve in 12-ounce glass.
EL TORITO GRILL'S NON-ALCOHOLIC 'PINK CADILLAC MARGARITA'
1 ounce non-alcoholic Triple Sec
2 1/2 ounces sweet and sour mixer, or fresh lime juice
1 egg white (optional)
3 to 4 ounces cranberry juice
Blend all ingredients and serve.
THE RED ONION'S 'GOLD MEDALIST'
2 ounces fresh or frozen strawberries
2 ounces pina colada mix
2 ounces crushed ice
Blend and serve.