Entertaining Notes - featuring Anya Tchoupakov

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Entertaining Notes is a new series in which we speak with friends of Chopin Vodka to learn about their top entertaining tips. Each of our contributors has been chosen because of their strong personal style and their penchant for throwing great parties. From signature cocktails and go-to playlists, to their favorite ways to serve Chopin Vodka, we learn about the personal touches that turn their events into memorable occasions.

Anya is a writer and editor who began her career working for Creators at VICE and helped run Dirt, a food magazine by Dig Inn. She now works at Healthyish, a vertical of Bon Appétit at Condé Nast. Anya studied Print Culture at NYU and is in the early process of starting her own magazine devoted to dance. Among her talents, Anya speaks English, French, Spanish and Russian.

My family moved around a lot when I was growing up, but my parents always managed to find a solid group of people in each place we lived, perfecting the art of ‘mixing company’. They’re both dancers and instructors, so their cast parties were hosted at our house - everyone just hanging out. My mom’s a great cook, so our gatherings were the perfect combination of good food and good company; no pressure, no stress - just spending time together with people we enjoyed. These experiences had a great influence on my entertaining style.

I really got into cooking when I started working at Dirt, a publication about the good food movement. I’ve always loved food but that job introduced me to the professional scene and opened my eyes to perspectives that I hadn’t previously considered. I discovered ingredients and techniques that I’d never heard of; but most importantly, I developed a greater appreciation for well-produced, healthy food. I became passionate about cooking and exploring new recipes and drinks, which gave me an excuse to invite people over. I have this Jewish mom thing where I love to host and feed people.

When hosting a party I think it’s very important to remain relaxed. Don’t stress out! If you’re constantly looking for validation from your guests you can spoil the mood. Even if you mess up whatever you’re making - it’s fine; you’re only human. Find joy in imperfection and just be present in the moment.

Lately I’ve been hosting what I call “Fam Friday” parties. Our friends recently moved into the neighborhood and every Friday we take a dance class together. Afterwards, we all come back to my place and we either cook something fun and simple (think tacos or pasta) or order food, make cocktails and hang. It’s not a fancy ‘cocktail party’ but it makes me really happy to have the people I love in the same room together on a regular basis.

The music that I listen to is very eclectic and sometimes super weird, so I get nervous that people won’t like what I want to listen to when they come over. For my parties I prefer to give my guests control of the music; they’re much better at creating playlists than I am. If nobody’s into it then I go with something classic - Zeppelin or maybe jazz. Most of the time we’re more into the conversation than the music.

My signature cocktail varies depending upon the season and my mood. For a while I was making New York Sours, which is a whiskey sour with a red wine floater. While I was living in Madrid last year, my best friend and I got really into cocktails and recently I’ve been exploring clear spirits - gin/vodka tonics, margaritas, gimlets, mules and martinis. In my bar cart I have bitters, triple sec and simple syrup on hand (lemons and limes go without saying). As for gear, I keep it simple - I have a couple of shakers and that’s all.

When I’m drinking Chopin Vodka, its high quality and distinctive taste makes me want to let it stand on its own. I recently discovered a liqueur through my job at Bon Appétit Healthyish called Chareau, which is made with aloe vera, mint and cucumber. I’ve been mixing Chareau with Chopin Vodka to make an aloe martini. It makes me feel very sophisticated.