Trend alert: The beverages you serve at your next get-together deserve equal billing with the food. Beverage chefs like Kathy Casey of Liquid Kitchen and Liquid Architecture’s Kim Haasarud are building growing clienteles with their innovative approaches to alcoholic and non-alcoholic cocktails.

“Cocktails, like food, should be culinary experiences,” says Haasarud. “It is about combining ingredients to create a sensation on the palate and entice all the senses with a combination of flavors, textures, aromas and garnishes.”

Forget packaged drink mixes. Fresh, premium ingredients are key, along with a splash of creativity. Use your Vitamix to create restaurant-quality cocktails from fresh fruits and juices, even herbs and vegetables like basil and cucumber. “Muddling” a smattering of fruit or herbs in the bottom of the glass will enhance the flavor of your creations. Set aside some ingredients to use as garnishes – a sprig of herb or a half moon of lime or glossy orange, perhaps.

Create delicious “rim trimmers” by moistening the rim of the glass, then dipping the lip of the glass in a shallow dish of an ingredient compatible with the recipe. Sugar, salt, and finely grated coconut are a few examples. Try using colored sugars for a pretty accent. Hint: turn your blender lid upside down as a salt/sugar tray for rimming glasses.

Enjoy these chef-inspired cocktails at your next soiree: