The term cocktail is used not only for alcoholic beverages and vegetable and fruit juices but also for a group of appetizers made of seafood or fruit, usually with a tart or tangy sauce. Such cocktails are always served well chilled, often on a bed of crushed ice.
Oysters and clams on the half shell are popular seafood cocktails, as are shrimp, crabmeat, lobster, and firm, flaked white fish with an appropriate sauce. Recipes for a standard tomato-based cocktail sauce and for a lighter sauce called mignonette are included in Chapter 8.
Fresh oysters and clams on the half shell should be opened just before they are served (see pp. 442-443) and arranged on flat plates,preferably on a bed of ice. Provide cocktail sauce in a small cup in the center or at the side of the plate. Lemon wedges should also be provided.
Cocktails of shrimp and other cooked seafood are generally served in a stemmed glass or in a small, cup-shaped bowl,which may be nestled in a bed of ice.The cocktail sauce may be put in the glass first and the seafood then arranged on top, partially immersed. Or the cocktail sauce may be added to the seafood as a topping.A third alternative is to serve the sauce separately in a small cup, as for raw oysters. Garnish the dish attractively with lettuce or other salad greens and with lemon wedges.
Fruit cups served as cocktails should be pleasantly tart and not too sweet. Many fruit salads (see Chapter 21) may be served as cocktails.Adding fresh lemon or lime juice to fruit mixtures or serving with a garnish of lemon or lime wedges provides the necessary tartness.A simple wedge of melon with lime is a refreshing cocktail.
A few drops of a flavored liqueur can also be used to perk up the flavor of a fruit cocktail.
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