Even Dorothy Draper, the midcentury doyenne of entertaining, could have taken a few pointers from NYC-based cocktail consultant Lynnette Marrero. Known for her aromatic floral cocktails, Marrero’s warmth permeates every parlor where she pours. Marrero became interested in mixology in 2002, an uninspired time in the cocktail world which then focused on key lime concoctions and pink vodka martinis that were little more than accessories to minidresses. Marrero dreamed of an elevated world of bartending that was equal parts mixology and hospitality. She was drawn to The Flatiron Lounge in NYC, where Julie Reiner trained her staff of future cocktail stars.
“I loved the Old World formality at The Flatiron. At the time, it was the only high-volume cocktail lounge and reservations were often needed on weekends because of its popularity,” she says. After earning a place behind the bar at Flatiron, Lynnette stirred things up at Freeman’s Alley and later partnered with Brian Miller to craft the Polynesian-inflected cocktail menu at Elettaria. And, as the president and mother hen of LUPEC (Ladies United for the Preservation of Endangered Cocktails), Marrero’s helping to build and mentor the next generation of great bartenders.“When you’re young and just establishing your clientele, it’s essential to have a family of seasoned mixologists to turn to who’ll help you better hone your craft,” she says.
Marrero attributes her love of entertaining to her mother, who always put on a spectacular blowout for the holidays. “My mom would make a traditional eggnog every Christmas and give it away as presents in the wine bottles she saved over the year.”
For Marrero's Coquito (Puerto Rican Egg Nog recipe, click here.
Lynnette Marrero, Manhattan mixologist and co-founder of LUPEC (Ladies United for the Preservation of Endangered Cocktails), dishes on how to throw a festive, flawless holiday soirée.
Tip #1: The gift of eggnog. “My mom would make a traditional eggnog every Christmas and give it away as presents in the wine bottles she saved over the year,” says Marrero, who says her mother put on a spectacular blowout for the holidays. She recommends stocking your fridge with a few bottles of homemade coquito, or Puerto Rican eggnog, to give as a hostess gift.
Tip #2: Shake ‘Em Up early. In Virginia Elliot’s 1930s cocktail entertaining book, Shake ‘Em Up, she says, “If you happen to like your guests and wish to talk to them, it is an excellent idea to have liquid elements of the first cocktail mixed and cooling in the refrigerator before they arrive.”
Marrero shrugs party stress by tweaking classic punch recipes. “It’s hard when you’re a bartender and everyone wants you to make drinks at parties,” she says. She suggests pre-making a tasty party punch and freezing it into ice cube trays to add to sparkling wine. To up the ante, Marrero also suggests freezing aromatics like cinnamon and star anise into festive ice cube trays.
Tip #3: Mother bowls best. “By all means, use those heirloom punch bowls and those chip-and-dips passed down from your mother,” Marrero says.
Tip # 4: Baby, it’s cold outside! Marrero sends off her guests with a toasty toast at the end of the evening. “It’s a nice idea to keep a warm spiced cider or a beautiful mulled wine sitting on your stove to bring out as a warm-up nightcap.”