Your Guide To Alfresco Dining

Your Guide To Alfresco Dining Cover

The sun is shining, the weather is sweet, and that can only mean one thing: it's time to take your dining outdoors! Golden-hour drinks, garden parties, brunching in the sun on the patio. Whether it's a special occasion or just a catch-up with friends, alfresco dining is the perfect way to enjoy the warm weather. But what are the main ingredients needed for an enjoyable one? We along with experts have put together these 5 simple tips and tricks to help level up your next outdoor feast.

Alfresco Dining 101

What is alfresco dining

alfresco dining
From sipping cocktails under the stars to dinner in the garden, alfresco dining basically means eating or drinking outside in an open area such as a patio, garden, or terrace while soaking up some vitamin D and fresh air! It tends to be more of a casual vibe, but because we don't believe in rules around here, you can also make your alfresco thing as fancy as you'd like. Because you'll be outside enjoying nature it's a good idea to be prepared for weather changes. Have umbrellas on hand for guests, consider setting up a canvas pergola over part of your space, or have a section inside cleared just in case you need to quickly bring things inside if rain clouds appear.

1. Design the best alfresco table

Design the best alfresco table
Ensuring the vibe is just right is important when you're eating outside. It can make or break the whole experience! Bring the inside out with beautiful linens, silver candlesticks, whimsical tablecloths and colourful cushions. Stock up on table mats, too – they'll make a nice touch. Why not add a personal touch with DIY place cards and floral napkins? DIY-ing your own napkins is pretty easy; you'll need to roll a floral stamp with a thin layer of fabric paint and apply it to light pastel-hued linens. The result? A "wow" visual result with minimal work. Unique barware and glassware can get in on the action, too, like quirky cocktail glasses and a coloured shaker. And you'll definitely want flowers to add a fresh, vibrant effect. Try placing them in rainbow or cut-glass vases for maximum impact when the sunlight hits them.

2. Set up an alfresco drinks station

Set up an alfresco drinks station
Serving delicious cocktails from a pretty-looking drink station will set the tone of your party. The good news is there are many ways to do this, like decorating tables with vintage details, tapered candlesticks, light-up ice buckets, or an Instagram-worthy backdrop made from a patterned statement backdrop. And coloured coupe glasses or themed paper straws will add a nice touch. You can pick up so many bits and pieces that'll take your drinks station up to the next level in second-hand shops and online marketplaces. You could also set up an 'adult' lemonade stand, with drinks infused with herbs and studded with fresh fruit that looks as good as it tastes.

Our experts suggest letting the vibrant colours of your garden inspire the design of your drinks station. Choose elegant and durable cocktail glassware that would compliment the ambience of your garden. Have everything ready by the drink station and have plenty of ice by hand!

3. Serve a mouth-watering menu suitable for outdoor dining

Serve a mouth-watering menu suitable for outdoor dining
No alfresco event is complete without a delicious spread, and the great thing about outdoor celebrations is that you can play around with flavours and serving styles. Dishes that are easy to make, serve, and eat outdoors are the one. A buffet is always a winner, and charcuterie boards too as they're made for sharing. Charcuterie boards pair well with G&Ts as the gin emphasises the floral notes of the cheeses, with the bitterness of the tonic cleansing the palate. For the buffet, try crowd-pleasing options like grilled meats, seafood, vegetables and vibrant salads, and experiment with herbs and spices to step your culinary creations.

4. Add garnishes to level up your alfresco cocktails

Add garnishes to level up your alfresco cocktails
Of course, you want your cocktails to taste good, but they need to look and smell good too. One easy way to serve drinks to impress? Garnishes! Blackberries and blueberries will transform the look and taste of your drinks, like a Blackberry Bramble. And garnishes also serve another purpose, as they add aromas of subtle flavours to cocktails. If you love a dry gin, why not add some juniper berries? But if you're after something with citrus, mix it up with some basil which complements citrussy flavours well. Get cucumber involved by using your peeler to create super-thin cucumber slices. It will make a tasty garnish and transform the look and taste of your cocktails. Our experts suggest adding garnishes to elevate your cocktails by adding flare and artistry to them. 

Now that your outdoor space and food are sorted, it's time to think about drinks. 

Here are our top cocktail recipes for the golden hour:

1. Garden Party Punch

Garden Party Punch 
Mix Gordon's The Original London Dry Gin, lemonade, and fresh fruit for the ultimate refreshing and fruity alfresco-ready sip, perfect for sharing.

2. Cucumber Cooler

Cucumber Cooler
Muddle cucumber and mint, then add Tanqueray No. Ten Gin, lime juice, and simple syrup for a crisp and revitalising sipper.