If economic woes have you grounded this summer, host a Key West Staycation Party! Key West is the perfect location for a staycation “Come as You Are” Cocktail BBQ. Surprise your friends and family with a tropical twist on the typical barbeque and host a mini-vacation for all right in your own backyard. Treat guests to the specialties of Key West where nothing is too important or pressing, except enjoying a cocktail (or two), kicking back, expressing yourself and experiencing the sunset. The free-wheeling attitude, tropical cocktails, Floribbean cuisine and Key West music are the perfect solution to the staycation blues. Encourage your guests to be creative and show their personality – live by the Key West motto, “come as you are.” Turn the key to paradise and enjoy! Here are a few ideas to get you started. . .
Radiant Orchids, Birds of Paradise, shells, bamboo mats, bamboo disposable plates and forks, and lots of fruit especially limes are great for creating the look of an island get-away in your own backyard. Purple Orchids and limes look great together and create a real tropical atmosphere. Use them to create arrangements, garnish platters and decorate the dinning table. Tiki torches and candles are a must for when the sun goes down. They are the perfect mood enhancer.
The Original Margarita
As Jimmy Buffett proclaims, “It’s 5 o’clock somewhere.” Set up a cocktail port in the inlet of your island party to make it easy and convenient for your guests to enjoy the endless cocktail hour. Serve Fresh Margaritas!
- 1 1/2 oz. 100% blue agave plata Tequila
- 3/4 oz. freshly squeezed lime juice
- 1-1/4 oz. Cointreau
Shake together all ingredients with fresh ice cubes in a cocktail shaker until well chilled, about a count of ten. Take one of the lime rinds and run it around the outside edge of a cocktail glass (Be careful to avoid the inside of the glass, or you’ll have salt in your drink.) Dip the edge of the glass into Kosher salt (iodized table salt just won’t work) so that half of the outside edge of the glass is coated. Strain the drink into the glass. You can also mix up a pitcher and serve in a rock glass with ice. This is much easier for a large crowd.
Conch Ceviche – Our Recipe for Key West Ambrosia
Conch is King in the Conch Republic that is Key West. Instead of an uninspiring salad, serve your guests Conch Ceviche, conch marinated in fresh key lime and lemon juice and loaded with lots of fresh produce and herbs. Serve it up in a shell and your guests will know they are eating in paradise. If you can not find Conch at your local seafood market, it is available year round through Fresh Choice Seafood. Serve the ceviche with some fresh Cuban bread if it is available in your area, if you you can order online at CubanFoodMarket.com
- 2 lbs. Conch
- 8 Key Limes (regular limes are fine if you can’t purchase Key Lime)
- 4 Lemons
- 1 Tbl. White Vinegar
- 2 Garlic cloves
- 2 Bell Peppers (red and orange)
- 2 Jalapeno Peppers (if you choose a Serrano pepper, you’ll only need 1)
- 1 Bunch Scallions
- 8 On the Vine Tomatoes (if you use another tomato make sure it’s a juicy one)
- ½ cup finely chopped Cilantro
- 2 Mangoes
- Olive Oil
- Fresh Cracked White Pepper
- Sea Salt
- Partially thaw frozen conch and cut into small pieces (it’s easier to cut when slightly frozen), then finish thawing. When fully thawed, blanch the cut conch (boil for 1 minute, remove and plunge into bowl of ice water). This step is an optional precaution when serving seafood. In most island recipes for ceviche the raw seafood is cooked in the bath of citrus juice.
- Place cut and blanched conch in large glass bowl (don’t use metal – it could give off a metallic taste) and set aside.
- Squeeze the juice from 8 key limes and 4 lemons into a small bowl, remove any seeds, add 1 Tbl. white vinegar and 2 minced garlic cloves, whisk together and pour over cut conch. Cover and refrigerate while cutting produce.
- Wash red and orange peppers, finely chop and place in second bowl.
- Mince Jalapeno pepper (you can substitute a Serrano pepper instead for more heat if you have a spicy crowd coming) and add to peppers. (If you wear contacts, use rubber gloves when preparing hot peppers, the oil from the peppers stays on the skin and can be transferred to your contacts.)
- Wash tomatoes, dice and place in third bowl.
- Finely slice scallions and add to tomatoes.
- Dice mango and add to tomatoes.
- Drizzle olive oil over pepper and tomato mixtures, sprinkle sea salt and fresh cracked white pepper, add chopped fresh cilantro and gently mix both.
- Let both mixtures sit on counter for ½ hour to marinate.
- Add pepper mixture to marinated key lime conch and return to refrigerator for at least 4 hours.
- Let tomato mixture sit on counter to marinate.
- Just before serving conch ceviche, mix in tomato mixture and let sit on counter for 15 mins.
- Serve with tortilla chips.
The Perfect Ending to a Perfect Evening
Once the sun has set and your guests have enjoyed their cocktails and cocktail tasting menu, offer them a refreshing bit of paradise with our Sunset Skewers. As an indulgence, we’ve added a Green Flash Dip to commemorate the elusive Green Flash that has been spotted by a few at a Key West sunset. This unusual sighting apparently can occur as the top of the sun dips below a low, clearly defined horizon, i.e., a large body of water, creating a bright green flash for a split second, appearing where sea meets sky.
- Wooden Skewers
- 1 Pineapple
- 2 Cantaloupes
- 5 Kiwi
- 2 – 1 lb. containers Strawberries
- 2 Containers Blackberries
- 1 Box Pistachio Pudding Instant Pudding Mix
- 1 Small tub frozen Cool Whip
- Splash of Amaretto (optional)
- Wash outside of pineapple and cantaloupes, cut into bite size pieces and set aside.
- Peel and slice (not too thin) kiwi.
- Wash blackberries (you can use red grapes also) and strawberries in a colander and let dry.
- Using bamboo skewers, skewer the fruit in the following order to represent the Key West Sunset at Mallory Square: (starting with) blackberry or red grape (reddish/purple), strawberry (red), cantaloupe (orange), pineapple (yellow) and last, kiwi (green).
- Arrange kebabs on a platter in an arc to simulate the sky at sunset.
- Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
- Defrost frozen cool whip.
- Prepare pistachio pudding according to directions and fold into cool whip.
- Add a splash of Amaretto (optional).
- Cover and refrigerate.
Key Lime Pie
Key Lime Pie is a local and national favorite. The tart flavor of the key lime, the sweet creaminess of the pie and the crunchy graham cracker crust satisfy many cravings in one bite. You can’t have a Key West party without Key Lime Pie! Try our “Better Than Key Lime Pie” Gluten-Free Recipe here>
THE MUSIC: We have selected some great tunes for to get guests in the mood. See our private music mix on iTunes: Partybluprints Private Key West Mix
THE FAVOR: Margaritaville FINS UP Bracelet The Fins Up bracelet program began in response to the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina in August, 2005. Initial proceeds of over $100,000 were sent to the Red Cross to assist in their efforts not only in New Orleans, but along the entire Gulf Coast. GO>
Since that time, the proceeds of this bracelet has been used to benefit a variety of causes throughout the Florida Keys such as: Reef Relief, Monroe County Association for Retarded Citizens, Heron House, Exotic Bird Rescue, the Dolphin Research Center, Domestic Abuse Shelter, among others.