Before we fire up the grills and roll out the beer coolers this Memorial Day weekend, I wanted to remind you of one quick hospitality tip: Don’t forget the koozie bowl!
Yes, the koozie bowl. For all the sometimes-inexplicable traditions I learned through my southwestern PA upbringing, one that never had a foothold in my part of the Alleghenies was that of the beer koozie. Going to college in the Northeast didn’t provide any insight into the phenomenon, either; it wasn’t until I befriended some Southerners in big, bad New York City that I discovered the use of a koozie didn’t signify the stereotypical, er, trashiness I imagined, but was instead an object of cultural significance and symbol of casual hospitality all its own.
The apex of my koozie education came last year at a Classic Snacks Made from Scratch book event graciously hosted by the do-it-all Hip Girl Kate Payne (author of The Hip Girl’s Guide to the Kitchen). Next to the drinks station, she placed a bowlful of koozies for guests to use during the party. They weren’t a perfectly matched set of koozies, either; each was singular, acquired over the years and each with a personal significance all its own.
As bona fide Southern gal Kate Layton White says, “I have koozies saved all the way back from high school and every time I use one, it brings back different memories.” Kate, who followed in another tradition by giving out custom koozies for her engagement party, reminded me that it’s also de rigueur in the Carolinas to bring your own koozie out to parties or bars if you so desire. “The flexible ones fit easily in your back pocket!” she aptly notes.
I realize this might be old hat to some of you, but for this Yankee, it’s a tradition that I’m more than happy to appropriate from the South. It’s so nice to be able to hold a cold beer pulled straight from its icy slurry in your hand and not suffer the drippy, messy effects. And if your koozies are a mishmash, like ours are, you’ll always know which beer belongs to you when it’s inevitably left on a counter or table while you rush to tend something on the grill/greet guests/say goodbye to departing guests/grab more silverware/float around to talk to everyone/cue up Adventure Time episodes on the basement TV for the younger (and arguably cooler) guests. Or is that just me?
Not only have I started including a koozie bowl at our house parties—now featuring the Duff Beer koozies we picked up from our trip to The Simpsons’ Springfield U.S.A. at Universal Studios—but I’m contemplating bringing Kate’s custom engagement koozies on our upcoming road trip to her wedding in Greenville, South Carolina. (Hey, we’ll be traveling through a few craft beer-friendly towns on our way there, and she assures me this is a totally normal thing to do.)
You may not be ready to go that far with your koozies, but once you start collecting them, you can’t help wanting to show them off. Make a koozie bowl your party tradition too!