You can spend all afternoon nurturing the most tender tenderloin and mixing a truly revelatory bourbon punch for your next dinner party, but the sad truth is that your guests are most likely only going to remember the one thing you deprived them of: a proper after-dinner cappuccino.
When the call goes out, “Who wants coffee?” their arms will dart up and they’ll nod enthusiastically, but what they’re really thinking is, Meh.

Dinner parties were once simple affairs constructed around weekly game nights and gossip exchanges. And then we started giving our food and drink the reverence they deserved. Overnight, a new level of expectation attached itself to the dinner party. Now it’s more aligned with the opening night at a limited-run pop-up restaurant.

Which is ridiculous, of course. You only wanted to pull everybody together for a few laughs. And now you’re burdened with James Beard Finalist-sized aspirations. Nonetheless, if you’re going to put forth the effort, you may as well see it through. But that would mean buying a pricey machine, you say, that’s going to take up a ton of counter space and get used, what, for special occasions?

Not so fast. We’ve got a recipe for a damn good cappuccino—without the machine.

The following makes one cup:

 ¼ cup brewed coffee
 ½ cup whole milk, warmed
 Sugar to taste
 Cinnamon to taste

That frothy milk you thought was only possible through the magic of technology and a professional barista’s touch? Here’s a closely guarded industry secret: You can totally pull it off with a basic wire whisk. It’s gonna take a few minutes and your wrist’s not gonna love you for it. Just think of all the money you’re saving, if you need a little motivation.

Of course, if you’re making several cups at once, spare yourself the strain and your guests the wait and grab the immersion blender instead. Either way, when you’re done, swirl the pitcher a couple of times and then tap it on the counter. That’ll burst the big bubbles and make the foam a little denser. And use a larger pitcher than you think you’ll need. The milk’s going to expand as it becomes foam.

Next, pour the coffee into a cup and stir in a little sugar, if desired. Then add the frothy milk. And top it with a pinch or two of cinnamon. It’s as simple as that.

Next time, as you start clearing the table, ask, “Who wants coffee?” Take a count. And then ask, “And who wants a cappuccino?” Savor those smiles. You earned them. Even if they think you’re about to go punch an order into an elaborate piece of Williams-Sonoma- bought hardware.

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