May 29, 2015

Boozy Birthday Brunch

Summer's arrived and with it, a bunch of birthdays to celebrate! It's a crazy time of year with all the holidays, anniversaries, graduations and birthdays, so booze is a necessary component (or at least it's MY necessary component :)
One of my very best friends, who also happens to be my husband's first cousin, Eliza, celebrated her 50th birthday this past weekend. She was at the end of two graduation celebrations, I was at the end of one, plus it happened to be Memorial Day weekend. And as Eliza is quick to do, she deflects any suggestion for her birthday celebrations of any kind. But she is also quick to enforce us having to endure the attention on our own birthdays, so a small group of her friends and I were not going to let her 50th slip away. We got her!

After a evening gathering with Eliza's husband and daughter, a "boozy brunch" was offered and they accepted. And literally, during a drive up to their son's graduation in NH the day before her birthday, the plan was created by a small group of us and Eliza's sweet daughter, through a large series of texts of who-brings-what. My phone was practically bouncing off the counter. And because of the super-quick preparations, the party was small and I'm sure we forgot some friends. (I'm really sorry about that if you're reading this!) But this was just an impromptu brunchy gathering for Eliza with no stress and only a few people. The pop-up-party was afoot!
I got my supplies ready under my Lilly Pulitzer Target umbrella! Aren't the palm leaves so groovy?
My Lilly car tote I got from that website, Swoozies, was the perfect way to get organized. 
We had so many fun things to pack.
Once we "landed", as one friend said, at Eliza's house while she was out, we started to set up this pop-up-party!

The menu:
Oysters on the Half Shell
Shrimp Cocktail
Smoked Salmon
Eggs Benedict
Fruit Salad
Coffee Cakes - homemade by the best baker, Traci
Crudites with Hummus
Fruit Tart
Dr. Pepper Cake as the birthday cake

And for drinks, 
A boozy Bloody Mary Bar
& Mimosas
Yum, yum, yum!

Eliza and her husband picked up this AMAZING Vietri platter (or actually set of platters that fit together like the coolest puzzle) when they were on a trip visiting friends in Italy. This was the perfect backdrop for the shucked oysters and other seafood goodies. 

My friend, Libby, did a genius job bringing poached eggs in a big roasting pan. She said the key was using enough vinegar in the boiling water to make the eggs shrink onto themselves and thus be the perfect size and cooked just right. She and another friend, Mary, whipped up the yummiest hollandaise sauce and toasted the english muffins while the unsuspecting Eliza was on a walk.
I started pulling the bar together. And because we didn't want anyone to have to do the dishes, we opted for cute printed, as well as classic SOLO cups for the bloodies and one piece plastic champagne flutes for the mimosas. These pop-up things are great! There's no pressure to have it be perfect. The only goal is to have fun! The backdrop took care of itself…
For accoutrements to our yummy bloodies, I filled little bowls with:
cooked shrimp
baby corn
baby dill pickles
steamed green beans
four kinds of stuffed olives
bamboo skewers for the myriad of olive combos
And of course, full-sized bottles of Absolut 
and Mr. & Mrs. T's Original Bloody Mary Mix (which really is the best)

For the mimosas, we kept it simple with higher quality (but not enough to be ridiculously expensive) champagne and Florida squeezed orange juice
While preparations were underway, 
the gals were out in the driveway welcoming the BIRTHDAY GIRL!

I made the Dr. Pepper cake from this yummy recipe... 
…from a cookbook I found in Fort Worth, Texas when I was there this winter witnessing my first cattle drive!
My horsey friend, Fern, who also happens to be my most amazing dentist (and this is huge praise because I cannot tell you how much I HATE going to the dentist!) cracked up that this coastal loving mermaid used a Texas cowboy recipe. But it was mm, mm, good!

Here's the recipe from this awesome book:

Grandma Spears' Dr. Pepper Cake
Makes one 9 by13-inch sheet cake or 3 layer 8-inch cake

Cake: (it uses a LOT of butter, hence why it's sooo good)
1 cup butter
1 cup Dr. Pepper
3 tablespoons cocoa
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (I used a little more because I like vanilla)
2 eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar

Frosting (more butter and sugar - no calories in this thing, I'm sure!)
1 cup butter
3 tablespoons cocoa
6 tablespoons Dr. Pepper
1 1/2 cups sifted confectioner's sugar

Preheat oven to 350 and prepare the cake
In a saucepan, heat the butter, Dr. Pepper and cocoa until boiling and then remove from the heatIn a mixing bowl, combine the buttermilk, baking soda, vanilla and eggs, mixing well
In a separate bowl, combine the flour and sugar
Combine all 3 mixtures and pour into your greased pans
Bake for 20-25 minutes until done when a toothpick is inserted and comes out clean

While the cake is cooking, make the frosting
Combine the butter, cocoa and Dr. Pepper in a saucepan and bring to a simmer
Whisk in th esugar and remove from the heat
Cool the mixture slightly before pouring over the cake that has been pierced all over using a skewer
Spread the frosting all over the cake and allow it to seep into all the holes

I served it with fruit on the side - yummy!

Fresh from her four mile walk, and not having any clue that we had prepared this boozy brunch, Eliza was game, complete with a SOLO cup shot glass necklace!

The drinks kept flowing as freely as the laughs…
Pretty crummy way to celebrate, right?
And all surrounded by family and kids who (almost all) were out for the summer!

Happy Birthday! Here's to Summer!


  1. Oh my gosh all this Lilly, so fun! And that is one of the best bloody mary bars I have ever seen!

    1. Thanks so much!! And I love your blog too! Great minds think alike! :)