Planning a festive event? Here are a local artisan’s top tips  

Festive season preparation is in full swing at Melbourne Park, with the spaces at CENTREPIECE starting to fill up with the tastes and sounds of celebration and summer.

This year, we’re particularly excited to launch our brand new summer cocktail menu, a bespoke range of drinks made with artisan Victorian spirits and fresh ingredients from our kitchen garden. 

From refreshing twists on classics from Melbourne Gin Company and Grainshaker, to the Port Star Sour – a red-current liqueur paired with Starward Two-Fold Whiskey from Port Melbourne – this exclusive menu is the kind of offering that makes any event worth remembering.  

As our events specialists have been dreaming up the new offering, we’ve been thinking a lot about what it takes to bring the ultimate festive event to life. So we thought we’d share our top tips for hosting your celebrations – with a little insight from the taste purveyors at Starward Whiskey themselves.  

Opt for light, bright and refreshing  

Summer is a chance to celebrate being outdoors and soaking up the end of the year with your community.

Bring that celebratory lightness into your event by opting for bright and easy décor and food menus.

“Something you can just graze on for hours and leave not stuffed full, just feeling happy,” says Matty Follent, Brand Ambassador for Starward Whiskey.

Wondering what to pair with a whiskey cocktail? Matty says Starward goes well with “antipasti – think white anchovies, cured meats, burrata or caprese and other Italian and Spanish-style entrees.”  

Matty also noted that anything can be a festive favourite if you give it that lighter touch.

“When we hear whiskey, we often think of a warm old-fashioned or a neat glass around the fire – but we’ve launched a range of whiskey slushies at bars around Melbourne at the moment. Find ways to freshen things up to match the season.”  

Choose the right venue 

Where you host your event makes a lot of difference – especially in the warmer months when you need space and flexibility to accommodate guests at different phases (and temperatures) of the evening.

For that reason, garden spaces or rooftop bars are in, especially if they have views of the city and offer a chance to soak up daylight savings with a glass in hand.  

Don’t settle for the usual  

“Challenge the gin and tonic,” says Matty.

‘Tis the season to get creative and find new ways to surprise and delight guests with a twist on a classic or something they’ve never tried before.

“We fully mature our whiskey in red wine casks so we get this beautiful wine characteristic coming through – big juicy notes of red fruits – and that actually works really well with tonic water. No one really calls whiskey and tonics in a bar, but with Two-Fold it’s a nice little aperitif, very refreshing and actually surprises people when you tell them it’s a whiskey and tonic.”

Give your creativity sometime in the sun this year.  

Preparation is everything  

“My greatest tip would be to prep, prep, prep,” says Matty – and we agree.

“No one wants to be stuck in the kitchen or bar making drinks all night long. If you’re hosting, you want to be part of the festive celebration as well.”

So make sure you’ve squeezed all your limes before the doors open, or consider choosing ready-to-serve cocktails that you can just pop in the fridge, pour over ice and then go back to entertaining your friends. 

“I’ve been a bartender for 10 years now and I know how hard it can be to make a cocktail at home – you need everything set up like you’re in an actual commercial bar. Otherwise what happens when you disaster.”

Starward has been working on a ready-to-serve range of bottled cocktails for this very reason. Plus, having bottled options helps meet every good bartender’s one golden rule, “don’t run out of booze.” 

Find out how you can make CENTREPIECE your next Masterpiece.