Renowned designer Carleton Varney, Acclaimed chef Adrianne Calvo and master mixologist Jaime Salas, show us how to throw an unforgettable outdoor party this summer
THE DÉCOR – Carleton Varney
Carleton Varney is without a doubt one of America’s most renowned designers, he has put his signature touch on countless hotels and resorts all over the world, including The Waldorf Towers, Plaza Hotel in New York and The Breakers in Palm Beach. In years past he was the design consultant to the Carter Presidential Library and for numerous State functions at the White House.
As president of Dorothy Draper & Co. Inc., one of the oldest established interior design firms in the United States, and of course a pre-eminent expert in home décor, we have asked Carleton to share his expert tips for creating a fabulous setting for an alfresco South Florida summer party.
With a design philosophy that stresses the use of bright colors and the rejection of the impractical, uncomfortable and drab, Carleton offers these bold and imaginative tips:
Find accessories (plates, napkins, cups, cutlery, etc.) that are either disposable or easily cleaned. There are so many great colorful accessories for entertaining on the market. You can find a variety of pinks, orange, pineapple yellow, and in cool yachting colors such as sailor blue and white with touches of red.
Summertime night lighting is essential to a great cocktail party under the stars. If you don’t have a silver moon above you, hang a colorful Japanese lantern from wires in a nearby tree. Votive candles are practical and won’t blow out in the wind.
I often light pathways with brown paper bags with turned down cuffs. Fill the bags with sand to provide weight, then stick candles into the sand, light the wick, and the bag will protect flame.
For a country picnic consider checkered kitchen towels as napkins. Think colors of blue and white, green and white, or red and white. They serve as great lap covers as well.
MIX & MATCH
Use wooden bowls of mixed sizes and shapes on your buffet table for salads, chicken wings, coleslaw, and fresh corn. What about an old wooden wheel barrel filled with country red cherries?
Folding chairs come in all shapes and designs these days such as bamboo, wicker, as well as wood. And if you need extra seating don’t be concerned about the mix. Pull up whatever lightweight chairs you own. Let the mix happen. Ditto with the dishes, cups, and saucers.
My favorite flowers for casual entertaining- Queen Anne’s lace. If I’m entertaining in the south, then I go for magnolia leaves and rhododendrons. To keep rhododendrons looking fresh, once they start to wilt give them a gentle shower in your own bathroom. Water resurrects them!
Love Carleton’s tips?
Pick up a copy of his latest book Decorating On The Waterfront. With stunning images of new design projects in this collection of inspirational stories, this book brings into focus Varney’s career long journey to bring elements and inspirations from the world around us to life at home. $95. Visit CarletonVarney.com
THE FOOD – Chef Adrianne Calvo
For unpretentious food with maximum flavor we turned to South Florida’s most beloved chef, Adrianne Calvo. Chef-owner of award winning restaurant, Chef Adrianne’s Vineyard Restaurant & Wine Bar, and author of cookbook, #MaximumFlavor Social, Chef Adrianne’s heart and soul approach to cooking has resulted in “off the charts good” meals that keep her fans coming back. For our alfresco summer soiree, Chef Adrianne has lined up a colorful, tasty and easy to execute selection of dishes. Let’s get cooking!
RECIPE: Three Melon Greek Salad Champagne Mustard Vinaigrette Serves : 4
1/2 cup red onion, thinly sliced
1 cup seedless watermelon, cubed
1 cup honey dew melon, cubed
1 cup cantaloupe, cubed
1 cup cucumber, seeded and cubed
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1/3 cup black olives, pitted and halved
1 1/3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon champagne vinegar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon honey
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, Chives, for garnish
Directions: In small mixing bowl, whisk together olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, honey, and salt and pepper to taste. Mix vigorously until well combined. In a large mixing bowl, add the remaining ingredients and toss. Allow to sit for 15 minutes for flavors to come together. Add the dressing to the bowl but reserve a spoonful for garnishing later if desired. Toss with large spoons being careful not to bruise the melons.
You can serve this salad right away but it’s best when refrigerated for 30 minutes to 1 hour. To serve, spoon in the center of a plate, drizzle with extra dressing, and garnish with a chive.
RECIPE: Mexican Street Corn + Sofrito Aioli + Shaved Jalapeno (Serves: 4)
4 ears Corn, husked
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon red bell pepper, minced
1 tablespoon yellow onion, minced
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/4 cup beer
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon cilantro, minced
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup cotija cheese
1 teaspoon Tajin, Mexican seasoning
1 lime, quartered
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Slather corn with butter and place on a baking sheet. Roast in oven for 30-35 minutes. Meanwhile make the sofrito by sautéing bell peppers, onion, and garlic in olive oil for 5 minutes. Add cumin and tomato paste. Stir. Add beer, salt, and pepper. Stir and cook over medium heat for an additional 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and add cilantro. Set aside and allow to cool. Once it’s cooled, fold the sofrito into the mayonnaise. Allow the cooked corn to cool for a few minutes then slather the corn with sofrito aioli. Top with cotija cheese and sprinkle with Tajin. Add shaved jalapeno, radish, and chives. Serve with lime.
RECIPE: “Pink Lemonade” Watermelon Lemonade Slushies (Serves: 4)
4 cups frozen watermelon cubes
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1 bunch mint leaves, plus more for garnish
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1 ½ oz gin
4 watermelon wedges, small, for garnish
4 watermelon slices, thin as possible for garnish
Directions: Cube the watermelon and place in a single layer on a baking sheet to freeze, at least 2 hours. Keep frozen until ready to use.
Place the sugar, water and mint in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 10 minute. Let sit for at least 15 minutes. Before using, strain to remove the mint leaves.
Place all of the ingredients in a high-powered blender. Puree until thick, then slowly add in the gin until a thick and creamy texture develops. Divide into 4 glasses and serve. (If you don’t want to use alcohol, replace with additional lemonade) Garnish with watermelon slice along the glass, mint sprig, and watermelon wedge.
Want more from Chef Adrianne?
Access more than 75 mouth watering recipes in her cookbook #MaximumFlavor Social – including what Chef Adrianne refers to as the “greatest hits” from her acclaimed restaurant, Chef Adrianne’s Vineyard Restaurant and Wine Bar. Also discover how social media has been a platform for her to connect with her followers, in the featured Facebook, Twitter, and instagram comments from her fans included in the book. Available on Amazon.
THE DRINKS: Jaime Salas
Connoisseur and expert tequila taster, Jaime Salas is the “go to” guy on all things tequila. With a Certificado de Catador Entrenado given by world renowned Master Tequilera Ana Maria Romero, a Tequila Expert & Taster certification from the Academia Mexicana de Vino, and Tequila y Mezcal S.A. and a Master Mezcalier accreditation given by Comercam, which is the government entity in Mexico that regulates mezcal production and certification – Jaime is the first person we reached out to for tips on creating the ultimate summer tequila cocktail! The result – The Veracruzana cocktail.
“The Veracruzana cocktail is summer in a glass! The fresh pineapple provides a bright golden glow, reminding you of long sun-filled summer days. Its refreshing tropical taste is bursting with mouthwatering agave, complimented by the basils aromatic peppery taste. Veracruzana is perfect for a summer gathering outdoors”, says Jaime.
Jaime’s accrued encyclopedic knowledge of all aspects of the spirit from the growing of the agave to the methods of production has earned him the coveted position as Milagro Tequila Ambassador, Eastern United States.
RECIPE: Veracruzana by Jaime Salas
2 parts Milagro Reposado
¾ parts agave nectar
1 part fresh lime juice
4 parts pineapple chunks
2 parts basil leaves
Muddle pineapple and basil leaves in a Boston shaker glass. Add remaining ingredients and shake vigorously with ice. Strain into a rocks glass over fresh ice.
Garnish: Pineapple and basil
Glass: Rocks glass
Images provided courtesy of Dorothy Draper and Company, Inc and Chef Adrianne Calvo