Knowing what to serve at a cocktail party is hard, and making it amazing is even harder. It’s intimate, so a big formal dinner feels too much, but it’s much classier then a buffet with sausage rolls... I’ve been searching through the recipe books and testing them out at parties, and here are my ten steps to a killer party...
1. Clean up the Clutter!
The day before the party, do a clean and tidy of any rooms that will be in use. Then, they’ll only need a quick tidy and spruce up before the room a few hours before the party will begin! Remember that some people don’t handle alcohol well, and you’d be surprised how the most civilised people can behave, so hide anything you don’t want people to see, or anything potential dangerous like children's ride on toys.
Add some fresh flowers in a classy vase, some satin pillows, and if your sofa needs an update, a gorgeous throw. Candles and dim lights never look bad, and if you don’t have any, grab some classy cocktail glasses too, as well as serving plates. It’s easy to update any room and have it looking sophisticated!
3. Stock up on Ice!
Everything will require ice, so make sure you have plenty of it! Keep some metal buckets refridgerated or regularly topped up with ice in the hours coming up to the party, to chill wine and champagne, and have a bucket with tongs full of ice so that guests can ice their own drinks. As a general rule, have a pound of ice per guest.
Have a variety of clean glasses, with at least two available for every guest. Also make sure that you have different types, such as wine glasses, cocktail glasses, high balls, tumblers, and martini glasses. If you will also be providing beer or lager, you’ll also need pint glasses.
The length of your party will determine how much alcohol you will need. For a two hour party, its wise to have a bottle of wine for every two guests. Have a mix of red and white, with different alcohol levels, and also make sure you have a selection of vodka and whiskey. Gin, tequila, rum, bourbon, vermouth, sherry, brandy.
6. Non Alcoholic Drinks
Make sure you have enough sides to make the alcohol drinkable, and to provide for those who don’t drink, or can only consume a limited amount of alcohol. It’s a good idea to have orange juice, soda, tonic, ginger ale, cola, tomato juice, lemons, limes, horseradish and Worcestershire sauce, plus any extras.
Try to have coffee and tea available at the end of the night, as this will help to sober up guests and is also a good way to bring the party to an end. Don’t use your best mugs, though, as there may be breakages.
8. Keep Children Away
Cocktail parties aren’t really family friendly events, so if you have little ones, it might be a good night for them to have a sleepover at Gran's! While it may not be noisy, the last thing you need while hosting a party is to have to continuously take the children back upstairs.
9. Consider the Professionals
There are companies which for a fairly reasonable price will bring all the alcohol you’ll need, and a bartender to mix it too. This not only leaves you free to socialize, but gives the stress of remembering drinks recipes and ingredients to someone else! It’s worth a go for a big party.
10. Don’t Forget the Nibbles!
While scotch eggs probably won’t fit in, make sure you have some nibbles available. Italian stuffed mushrooms are always popular, as are flatbaked mini pizzas and hors d’oeuvres. Whatever you choose, make sure you have a range of flavours to keep everyone happy.
Once you’ve worked through this list, you are sure to have an amazing cocktail party. Now all you need to decide is what to wear! Have you got a tip for throwing an amazing cocktail party, or a great recipe? Please let me know!
Top Photo Credit: theladymargaret