Hosting a cocktail party can be easy and fun if you know what to serve and what you want your guests to experience. But how do you begin?
Our expert from Artisan Cellar, Roxanne Lee, shares with us some helpful tips on choosing the perfect menu (drinks included here of course!) to ensure a great cocktail party.
Three steps to a good cocktail party
“A good cocktail party is something very personal and done out of love,” explains Roxanne. “It is one where your guests experience how special they are to you.”
Here are some general guidelines for hosting a memorable and enjoyable cocktail party:
- Be purposeful. Know why you are gathering people together; this makes it meaningful for your guests and for you as a host.
- Plan well. Preparation is always key. This will enable your ideas to come to life and make the process enjoyable rather than stressful.
- Tell a story. Serving well is what brings about a good firsthand experience as a host. Instead of just putting out the food and drinks for your guests, let all the elements you have chosen tell a story that would make the party a fond memory for them. Express your heart behind the gathering and why you chose to serve what you’re serving.
What to serve at a cocktail party
One of the best pieces of advice for good food and drink pairing is to not overthink. “Do not make it complicated,” Roxanne stresses.
Some useful ideas to keep in mind:
- For a cocktail party, a good bubbly would match almost any food you serve. A tried and tested crowd pleaser would be a very approachable Prosecco like Ruggeri or an easy champagne like Gosset.
- A menu for a cocktail party would mainly be small bites where people are usually standing up and chatting with each other. Cocktails for a party would most often be something you serve before lunch or dinner for early comers and as a conversation starter.
- Don’t forget to take into consideration if the guests are men, women, or a mixed group. You would want to please each and every guest as much as you can. Men usually have a bigger appetite; if you are expecting them, you can serve the same size of the cocktail bites, just adjust the quantity.
Cocktail Party Menus
If you’re hosting a cocktail party soon (maybe your first one!), here are some sample menus to look into. Themes are good anchors for your cocktail “stories” too. Use them to plan what to serve and what the flow of your party is to be like.
Artisan Cellar is an amazing trove for all your cocktail party needs, with its world class cheeses, jamon, and wine among other delightful offerings. Roxanne helps us flesh out some common party themes and create mouthwatering menus of savories plus the best drinks to pair them with:
Champagne and Canapés
What to serve:
- Jindi Double Cream Brie with caramelized onion on top of a thin toasted freshly baked baguette.
- Mas Pares Foie Gras with Figs Pate on top of a warm mini brioche toast.
- Fremantle Octopus Pulpo Bites with mini roasted potatoes.
- Caesar Salad Bites: Lettuce leaf topped with Niman Ranch Bacon, Jindi Blue Cheese, and a light Caesar dressing.
- Mayura Full Blood Wagyu Beef Tartare in mini glasses.
These are easy to munch and allow your guests to chat. It also offers a variety of bite sized goodies that will not overpower each other.
Depending on the number of guests, it would be great to have about two servers for the food and one for the Champagne but do give them a background on what they are serving. I usually like to serve it personally as I get to explain what I am serving. A flat white serving plate or a round silver platter works really well.
Pair these with: Gosset Excellence Brut Champagne would be a great value for money. It is not so dry and Gosset being the oldest Champagne house would be a great way to start a conversation. Gosset Champagne Rose is another good choice.
What to serve:
- Cinco Jotas Habugo Presa, Lomo, and Jamon Platter, or a whole Cinco Jotas leg carved on site.
Cinco Jotas is a very balanced jamon, and being a “Natural Treasure of Spain,” it would add a wow factor for your guests. Also, having a carver for the Jamon Leg would definitely add to the tapas experience.
Pair these with: A nice Chilean wine like Los Vascos Grand Reserve Red or a Spanish Wine like Vina Sarte Pago Sta Cruz.
Wine and Cheese Party
What to serve:
- A long cheese platter composed of two soft cheeses like Triple Cream Brie and Camembert; one blue cheese like a Gorgonzola or an Australian Blue Cheese (lighter to the palette); three hard cheeses like Gouda, Manchego, and Cheddar.
- Fruits like fresh seedless grapes, strawberries or sliced crispy apples. Dried fruits like fig, apricot or raisins.
- Plain crackers or thinly sliced baguettes.
- Nuts like pecan, walnuts, cashews or almonds. Olives. Fruit jam or honey.
All these elements go well together to compose an impressive cheese board. I suggest you choose a nice wooden board, or a black slate for a rustic feel, or a long white platter for a more classy look.
Pair these with: A nice approachable red wine like Domaine Baron de Rothschild Lafite Bourdeaux Rouge or a fruity white like a Domaine Schlumberger Grand Cru Kessler Riesling.
Do you have your own cocktail party menus or hosting tips to add? Share them here with us!