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The Functional Vase

February 22, 1996|TRACY CROWE McGONIGLE

Consider the basic bar table. You've got bottles, glasses and maybe a bit of color from that bowl of pimento-stuffed olives. It's not exactly the life of your party. If you dress up your buffet table with flowers for company, why not the bar?

Start with the ice bucket. Most often crystal (or worse: fake wood grain), it really adds nothing much to your table setting. But flowers don't always have to be in vases. If you've got a bottle of vodka to chill, create an ornamental ice bucket with a few backyard trimmings, water and a milk carton.

You will need:

1 (1/2-gallon) cardboard milk carton

1 (24-inch long) strand of bougainvillea

1 (750-milliliter) bottle of vodka

Water

*To make the base, put an inch of water in the milk carton. Drop three or four flower petals and a leaf or two from the bougainvillea in the water. Place the carton in freezer so that the water is level. Let it freeze a few hours until solid.

*Remove the carton from freezer. Starting at the base of the vodka bottle, wrap the bougainvillea vine around the bottle, winding up until you reach the bottom of the bottleneck. While holding the vine on the bottle, place it in the middle of the carton. It is all right if the vine touches the edges of the carton but the bottle should not--you need to allow enough space around the bottle for the water to freeze. Fill the carton with water to just below the bottom of the bottleneck. You will not be able to remove the bottle from the ice until it has completely melted, so be sure to allow enough room at the top to hold it for pouring. Place the carton in the freezer so the water is level. Let it freeze a few hours until solid. This is best done the morning of your party or the night before.

*Remove the carton from the freezer. Tear the carton and remove the cardboard from all sides. Place the "ice bucket" that remains in a shallow glass dish with a bit of crushed ice surrounding the base. Sprinkle a few flower petals on the ice. You can soften the effect by placing a small branch on the side. The ice bucket will last for hours, and the color will become brighter as it melts.

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