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.
Rob Franklin originally hails from the South but moved to California for school and New York for work. Today, he works in Audience & Strategy for art magazine, Artsy.net. Franklin also writes poetry and fiction. His work has been published in the Levinthal Anthology and in Fields Magazine.
My Dad has had the greatest influence on my entertaining style. He was a college president when I was growing up, so I’d come home from track practice or play rehearsal and there’d always be a reception of some sort happening in our living room. I sometimes joke that a standard dinner at my house growing up was 12 cheese cubes and 4 baby quiche. Anyway, he has this really remarkable ability to work a room at a party and make everyone feel truly seen, remembered and wanted - which I try to emulate. Of course, back then I’d typically just hoard hors d'oeuvres in the kitchen and hide from the adults.
Happy hours at my job have also had an influence on how I entertain. We have really amazing happy hours that have different signature cocktails each week, so I’ve actually learned how to make a number of drinks. I’m typically someone who rotates between maybe three ‘go-to’ drinks, so this has definitely been valuable for expanding my rotation.
When people ask about my signature cocktail I always think of this drink I invented called the ‘Mr. Franklin’. Years ago, when I was working at an Italian restaurant, we’d experiment with making custom cocktails after our shifts. One night I mixed vodka, sparkling water, a ton of lemon and mango puree (perhaps some mint as well for emphasis). It was surprisingly good so I made a round for all the waiters. They loved it, so I continued to make it periodically throughout the summer.
I’m definitely one of those people who brings a lot of produce into their drink-making; I like to have fresh fruit (berries and citrus) as well as herbs (mint and basil). If I’m feeling really picky, I prefer crushed ice for drinks. Lately, I’ve been having Chopin Vodka over ice with Pellegrino Limonata or Aranciata Rossa - it’s the easiest drink ever and sure to be a crowd-pleaser on a hot summer night. With a high-quality spirit, such as Chopin, I’m a big believer in keeping it simple.
Recently, I’ve been helping to host a ‘short story book club’. Our group is a semi-random assortment of friends from college, roommates and friends of friends, etc. We always begin with a cocktail hour and then discuss several stories by a single author we’ve all agreed to read. The club is lovely because it creates this incredibly collegiate environment to debate and drink and laugh - the kind of environment I’d almost forgotten I missed.
My go-to play lists would include The Strokes, The Growlers and Arctic Monkeys in the winter, and Solange, Frank and SZA in the summer. New York only has two seasons. If I were to give one tip for throwing a great party I’d have to say that there should be no ‘hard outs’ - the party ends when the last person leaves.