Gatherings of summers past prompt you to reach for the gingham tablecloth, wicker utensil basket and pasta salad when planning this year's bash. But if you want to make it memorable, take a new approach by playing off of a boho chic theme that celebrates summer's jubilance with rich colors, eclectic elements and contrasting textures. Limit the guest list to a manageable 15 and clear space in your backyard or driveway, suggests Ann King, owner of Borrow Rentals in Cleveland. Bring indoor items outside while sticking to a palette of gold, plum and fern green. "[It] adds a personal touch and makes your party even more interesting," King says. Top a wood table with floral table runners, spruces of greenery and vintage china. Add neutral rugs, a hodgepodge of cushy chairs and geometric patterned pillows, and voila, you've created a sunny oasis.
1. Flowers made from discarded plastic bottles make a tablescape eye-catching, says Nicole McGee of Upcycle Parts Shop in Cleveland. "They're a bold, colorful, shiny element that you can reuse," she says.
2. Party Pleasers
"A great menu captures the flavors of the summer, but keeps it easy so you can enjoy your party," says JenniferHorvath, co-chef and general manager of Toast in Gordon Square, of this five-course spread she concocted.
Planter's Punch1 ounce outside Silver Rum
1/2 ounce lemon juice
1/2 ounce orange juice
1/2 ounce cherry juice
1/2 ounce simple syrup
2 dashes Purchases bitters
2 dashes grapefruit bitters
1/2 ounce Goslings Black Seal Rum
Stir all ingredients, minus Goslings, over rocks in a Collins glass.
Float Goslings on top and garnish with grapefruit wedge and a cherry.
Grilled Mozzarella Stuffed Tomatoes
"When you char the tomatoes, the juice wells up into the cheese," Horvath says. "The garlic blooms into these flavors, and basil brightens it up."4 vine-ripened large tomatoes
8 leaves fresh basil
1 ball fresh mozzarella
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 ounces balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons salt
Black pepper to taste
Wash and cut off the tops of the tomatoes. Set aside tops. Using a paring knife, carve out the center of the tomato, making room for our mozzarella. Make sure to leave some meat.
Julienne the basil and mix that with the minced garlic, 1 ounce of balsamic, and 1 tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil.
Dice the Mozzarella and toss with the basil mixture to evenly coat.
Season the tomatoes with the remaining oil, balsamic, salt and pepper
Stuff the tomatoes evenly with the mozzarella. Place tops back on.
Place on the grill and lower the lid. Cook without turning for 6-8 minutes, or until the mozzarella comes gooey and melty.
Beet Pickled Deviled Eggs12 hard-boiled eggs, peeled
1 jar pickled beets
1/2 cup aioli (or mayonnaise)
2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 tablespoon Hungarian paprika
2 sprigs dill, chopped
Cut the hard-boiled eggs in half, and separate the whites from yolks.
Place egg whites in a Mason jar. Strain beets over whites, making sure the beet pickle liquid covers all whites. Let sit 1 hour.
While waiting for whites to lightly pickle, place your yolks in a food processor and add all other ingredients.
Pulse until smooth and creamy.
Place filling in a pastry bag with the tip of your choice.
Once an hour is up, strain whites making sure zero liquid is left. Then fill the white with the yolk mixture.
To garnish, dice a few of your pickled beets and gently place on top with a small amount of dill.
BBQ Beef Brisket
"You literally set it and forget it, so that you can have a drink," Horvath says.5-6 pieces of brisket with a 1/4-inch thick fat cap
1/2 cup ancho chili powder
2 tablespoons hot paprika
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon dry mustard
2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 cups hickory woodchips
Mix all dry ingredients in a small bowl and rub into brisket.
Let cure for 12 hours in refrigerator.
Heat smoker up to 180 degrees, and while that's heating, soak woodchips in water for one hour.
Once smoker is up to temp, add ½ cup woodchips then place your brisket in a pan, fat side up. Place in smoker.
Check brisket every two hours, adding woodchips if needed. Also baste the meat with the juice that is in the pan.
Once fork tender (about 6-8 hours) pull from smoker and rest.
Top with your favorite sauce and enjoy.
Strawberry Basil and Bourbon Granita
This dessert is akin to a boozy Italian ice. "When you're outside barbecuing, you want something light," she says.1 1/2 cups fresh strawberries, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves, chopped
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 ounce Bulleit bourbon
Combine all ingredients into a food processor and pulse until all ingredients are combined.
Place mixture into a Tupperware and freeze.
John Gorman, chief content officer at oWOW Internet radio, chooses sun-soaked tunes to set the mood.
‡ Revisit the '70s and '80 with "Hot Summer Nights," a collaboration of Walter Egan and Fleetwood Mac's Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks.
‡ "Cruel Summer" by Bananarama
‡ "There's No Surf in Cleveland," by Euclid Beach Band is the best surf song not recorded by the Beach Boys. "If there's a Cleveland-based summertime song, this is it," Gorman says.
‡ "Summer Breeze" by the Isley Brothers
‡ Bond with friends over hopeful ballad "No One Knows" by Bob Gatewood, who splits time between Cleveland and Put-In-Bay.