July 10, 2015

How to Throw a Wimbledon Watching Party

This weekend the 129th annual Wimbledon Championship tennis tournament draws to a close, with the final matches set for Saturday and Sunday. I went to Wimbledon about fifteen years ago, during my first trip abroad as a naive 18-year old having just graduated from high school. I knew nothing about tennis, and wasn't sure what to make of it all, but the entire experience made quite an impact. 

While my travel companions staked out a courtside seat to watch Anna Kournikova, I wandered around and entertained myself people watching and taking it all in. I had strawberries and cream. I drank Pimm's and Lemonade. It was the quintessential Wimbledon experience. 

When my friends at Knoxville's Fox43 asked me to share some ideas for throwing a Wimbledon watching party for their special Wimbledon show, I was happy to oblige! 

1) What to drink at a Wimbledon Party? 

Nothing but Pimm's & Lemonade will do! Pimm's is a liqueur with a spicy, citrus flavor and it mixes perfectly with all sorts of things. My favorite thing to enjoy with Pimm's is plain old lemonade, but you can also use a sparkling lemonade or just add in some club soda. 

Apparently Brits take their Pimm's very seriously, especially when it comes to the addition of mint. Tennis star Andy Murray's mom Judy tweeted a photo of her drink at Wimbledon, complaining about it having too much mint, which caused the Pimm's company to issue an official statement: 

"No more than three British-grown mint leaves should be used to garnish each glass." 

While I must confess that my mint was grown in Tennessee, Pimm's was easy to find at my local package store if you'd like some of your own! 

Recipe for Pimm's & Lemonade (Pimm's Cup) - 

Tradition Pimm's No. 1

Add two parts lemonade (sparkling or plain) to one part Pimm's liqueur. Garnish with a slice of orange, lemon, apple, and cucumber. And don't forget the 3 required leaves of mint! 

Supercharged Pimm's No. 1

Add five parts lemonade and two parts Pimm's to one part gin. Garnish as above. 

2) What to eat at a Wimbledon Party? 

If you ever have the chance to go to Wimbledon, you must have strawberries and cream. There are many possible explanations behind the popularity of this sweet, red fruit and its association with the tennis event. 

Wimbledon's head public relations person said recently it probably had to do with the fact that all the way back through the years, strawberries are always in season while Wimbledon is being played. Plus, eating strawberries was de rigueur in Victorian England. 

For my strawberries & cream, I decided to take it even a step further with the addition of a traditional English biscuit (what we think of as a cookie) crumbled up on top. 

Recipe for Strawberries & Cream 

Rinse your strawberries and remove the green tops. Slice and/or quarter and put them into small bowls (1 bowl per person/serving). Pour heavy whipping cream into a metal bowl that has been chilled in the freezer (a trick that always helps me) and beat it until stiff peaks form. Put a generous spoonful of cream over each cup of berries and top with cookie crumbles (I used McVitie's Chocolate Digestives, a popular UK brand of cookies that is carried by my local grocery store).  

Check out this cool infographic to see just how many servings of strawberries were enjoyed at Wimbledon last year. 

3) Decorations for a Wimbledon Party 

The official colors of Wimbledon are green and purple, so I tried to incorporate that with my party decor. As with any sort of entertaining, I always try to use what I have on hand before buying a bunch of party stuff that I don't really need. 

Wimbledon is also known for white, that is the crisp white attire players are strictly required to wear.

White serving pieces look great with pops of color, especially green and purple. 

I was inspired by this gorgeous arrangement I found on Pinterest, and re-created one of my own with purple hydrangeas in a trifle bowl. I also made some place card holders by cutting a slit in each tennis ball and inserting a place card. Simple and cute! 

Will you be watching the Wimbledon finals? Who are you cheering for?