Chill, Baby. Chill.

Chicagoans have been finding a lot of snow piled at their front door at late.  While measurable snowfalls and the icy wrath that follows have some dreaming of warmer climes and umbrella drinks, I choose to embrace it. Ice can quickly turn from an arch nemesis to a social gathering’s most stylish and charming asset.

In fact, I’ve been seeing inspirational ice-scapes everywhere of late….

First sign: on a recent trip to Florida, I traded in my cozy glass of red wine for a chilled and icy Ketel-One-upwithatwist-please. As I sunk into the outdoor patio setting and watched the little ice chips swirl atop my perfectly shaken martini, I let inspiration take hold.

Five days later, I was chilling big time when we visited the West Palm Beach GreenMarket and tucked into some street food, Florida style.  (Read: luxeluxeluxe…) Lobster every-which-way runneth over atop a mountain of shaved ice.  Claws and tails abound, with various dipping sauces.  (I love a perfectly homemade-and-rich aïoli.) A chilled lobster salad in martini glass with cocktail sauce and bed of slaw was heavenly.  There is nothing more visually stunning than a perfect RAW BAR spread  — crab legs, shrimp, lobster tails, oysters — all tumbling out of carved ice bowls that are sitting atop scads of sliced citrus. Add some lobster rolls (split bread, chunks of fresh succulent lobster, hardly any mayo, good to go…) to the mix and you’re serving up crisp, cool, luxury. Every time.

Back in Chicago and behind my computer once again, I find that Entertaining Company has a perfect storm of ice-centric entertaining on the books. A Café Brauer mitzvah with a Blackhawks theme catches my eye.  I am thinking teen dream on ice.  We’ve decided to fill Blackhawk-logo’d paper cones with snacks and treats, a Blizzard Bar with Cookie Dough, Oreos, and Banana Cream finishes off the party. Bring on the personal appearance by Nick Leddy, PLEEEEASEEEE.

And then there are the intermezzo Courses that keep popping up on our menus.  Trending!! We’re hardly doing a wedding without the resurgence of this old school seated dinner course. Chilled fruit “soups” of mango sorbet, fruit coulis and topped off with the tableside addition of chilled champagne! Eiswein Intermezzos served in mini martini glasses and adorned with frozen grapes will be making appearances at Entertaining Company weddings all over town this summer!

When the dance floor gets too hot, our icy inspirations make another appearance!  Boozy popsicles are the perfect late night refreshment and are always a huge hit.  Check out one of my favorite books for more ice-inspirations: Poptails: 60 Boozy Treats Served on a Stick.

Want more?  Check out the coolest entertaining tricks on my pinterest board: here.