The days might be getting shorter and cooler but all the more reason to get outside and make the most of being outdoors whilst we can. Autumn days can be balmy and blue-skied, perfect for half-in/half-out gatherings and celebrating all the wonderful traditional harvest produce on offer.
Hot spiced cider made with cinnamon, star anise and ginger, can make a delicious autumn themed welcome drink...
A warm feeling inside and out
Hot spiced cider made with cinnamon, star anise and ginger, can make a delicious autumn themed welcome drink and a non-alcoholic version made with apple juice can easily sit alongside.
Autumn cocktails tend to be made with darker spirits such as rum, bourbon and brandy. The boulevardier is a negroni with an autumn spin, substituting the gin with bourbon. Manhattan is a classic autumn cocktail, replacing the more summery martini.
For an inviting autumn mocktail, mix more unusual fruit juices, such as pear or clementine, with ginger ale and garnish with bruised rosemary or dried apple slices – cocktails are as much about sight and smell as they are taste.
A bubbling cauldron of soup can be a great addition to the traditional barbecue...
Feeding a crowd
Autumn is the season for warming soups and casseroles and these are perfect for catering for a crowd. If you’re thinking soup is boring – think again! A delicious spicy soup made with seasonal squash can be topped off with dollops of Greek yoghurt, chopped herbs and crispy fried onions, instantly elevating boring old soup.
A bubbling cauldron of soup can be a great addition to the traditional barbecue. Instead of the usual salad accompaniment to barbecue, consider warm ‘salads’ made with roasted vegetables, chickpeas and quinoa – these can be served warm rather than hot.
For a hearty meal, casseroles can be prepared well in advance to save stress and bother on the day of the party....
Bowl food is a winner for guest and host
For a hearty meal, casseroles can be prepared well in advance to save stress and bother on the day of the party. Bonfire sausage casserole, incorporating the smokiness of paprika or chipotle and a hint of molasses can be a delicious warming meal for all age groups. Or why not have a more sophisticated boeuf bourguignon or game stew on the bubble as well?
A pile of mismatched bowls and a ladle will invite guests to help themselves –buttery mash or a warm rice pilaf is an ideal accompaniment. Mixing lots of freshly chopped herbs, toasted walnuts and citrus zest (try orange!) into the pilaf will add zing and another layer of flavour. And what autumn party would be complete without apples and toffee? Toffee apple bread and butter pudding can be prepared ahead – for a touch of luxury use brioche or stale croissants instead of white bread.
To create ambience, combine general lighting with more atmospheric lighting for eating and drinking...
Fire and light
By the time dessert is served, it may well be time to fire up any outdoor heating. Garden stoves will give your garden that living room feeling, whilst firepits are perfect for toasting marshmallows – nothing beats the feeling of throwing another log on the fire and returning to the warmth of your fluffy blanket!
Bistro style heaters have become more compact and discreet in recent years and can give out a surprising amount of heat. To create ambience, combine general lighting with more atmospheric lighting for eating and drinking. Warm coloured paper lanterns will give a cosy glow and festoon lights will lend a party feel. Up-lighters can be used to highlight focal points – this looks particularly effective at the base of an attractive tree.
Lockdown taught many of us that spending regular quality time outdoors is good for the soul – it is widely accepted that sunshine and fresh air is good for mental and physical wellbeing. Our outdoor spaces are invaluable, additional ‘rooms’ and it makes sense for us to continue using them as much as we can – live life outside!