A Toast to the Ultimate Cocktail Party


We have all been there: a friend’s party where you found a retro bar sign reading, “Our Martinis Make You See Double and Feel Single.” Or maybe you arrived to find the usual suspects: vodka + mixers + cute girl behind the bar who can’t tell you what’s in a Cape Cod = been there, done that. Or maybe you’ve occasionally experienced an attempt to “couture” the cocktail party – the host’s interpretation on modernism and minimalism that reminded you why gray is not the new black – which left you envisioning something more. If you have been subjected to any one of the above scenarios, here are some ideas for inspiring the Ultimate Cocktail Party.

1. Instead of offering up the typical finger foods, try these ultimate pairings

Vodka and Caviar:

Try looking for blonde caviar. It’s harder to find, but well worth the hunt. If you want to accentuate the taste of the caviar, show it traditionally by using pearl spoons served on the top of your guests’ hands, about one inch above the wrist, toward the thumb. Invite your party guests to eat the caviar right off their hands, followed by a sip of clear vodka, stirred in a martini. It’s sexy and occasionally messy until you get the hang of it, but it’s an invitation that shouldn’t be refused.

Champagne and French Fries:

If you haven’t tried it, trust me. Sparklers are perfect for cutting through the fat from the fries (or any fried food) and making the most delicious flavor and texture marriage your mouth can imagine. Try rosé champagne paired with shallot fries or pomme frites.

Oysters and Muscadet:

Muscadet is a white wine from the mouth of the Loire River, a region of France that shares the river’s namesake. Try a producer that bottles sur lie, a wine bottled without being racked or filtered that produces a Muscadet with a rounder, full body and a slight effer- vescence. Revel in that aphrodisiac pairing – this works with all shellfish, and you can try lobster or prawns as well.

BBQ and Bourbon:

Try a flight of all boutique bourbons, made in single or small batches, one ounce each. Pair it with your favorite barbecue. The spice from the grain, and toast- ed or charred oak barrels that age the bourbon will enliven the tangy sauce and slow-cooked meats, giv- ing your guests a new way to experience a favorite.

Buttermilk or Gingerbread Pancakes with an English Stout or Boddingtons English Ale:

This is the perfect pairing for a brunch event. Your guests will never forget it.

2. Pre-Make Your Bottle Cocktails

You can pre-make cocktails so that you can serve larger groups specialty drinks in the right ratio and be free to mingle and enjoy the parti Make the concoctions days ahead but do not add the water until 12 hours or less of the start of your party. The water should equal one-third of the total of the other ingredients. It’s a good idea to prepare two or three types of bottled cocktails (750 ml size) so there are variations to choose from. You can display the bottles with a speed pour in the top, dropped in a metal champagne bucket that is filled with ice and decorated with fruits, flowers or both.

3. Garnish

Try brandied cherries, flavored ice cubes, rim sugars or sugared vanilla beans as a special garnish for your libations. Try freezing a flower in an ice tray by filling the tray halfway with water. Freeze and add the flower. Fill completely with water and freeze again. Using an edible flower as a garnish is wonderful too.