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5 tips for a successful cocktail party

A selection of martinis
A selection of martinis
I-Stock Photo

New Year’s Eve is traditionally a weekend devoted to much imbibing of alcoholic beverages. Just in time for New Year’s Eve- and this year, the extended New Year’s weekend- here are 5 tips for a successful cocktail party.

  1. Are you serving appetizers only at your shindig? Be sure to let your guests know in the invite, especially if the party is at dinner time. It has happened, in my capacity as a caterer, that I have had guests approach me after a few rounds of appetizers, asking when dinner was going to be served.
  2. Mix things up, make sure your menu is varied. Plan items with a balanced amount of proteins, fats and carbs. Your menu should also be balanced fish, poultry cheese, meat-wise, and don’t forget to offer a few non-meat items for any vegetarians who may be attending. The menu selections should be varied style wise, too. You don’t want everything to be on a skewer, or a crostini, or serve crab cakes and another fish cake, for example.
  3. Another tip for menu planning- while you want food selections to be varied, if you’re serving high alcohol content drinks (i.e. martinis), you do want to make sure there are enough protein items to absorb the alcohol. It’s important to keep everyone from getting too tipsy.
  4. Make sure there’s enough of everything- glasses, cocktail napkins, ice. If your party goes on for a few hours, you will run through at least twice the number of glasses as you have guests, and one of the last things you want to have to do is wash glasses throughout the evening. You’ll run through at least three to four times the number of cocktail napkins as guests, and you should count on at least a pound of ice per person at your party-more if wine, sodas, etc, are not chilled ahead of time.
  5. Be sure to have a good selection of soft drinks, and sparkling waters, not only for designated drivers, and non-drinkers, but for those drinking alcohol who will also need to stay hydrated.
  6. Lastly, but most importantly, although you want everyone to have a great time, keep an eye on your guests to make sure no one’s drinking is getting out of hand. You can enlist your bartender’s help with this. If you hire a professional bartender (always a good idea), he or she will have subtle techniques for dealing with this issue.

Enjoy ringing in the new year!

Gisele Perez, is also the L.A. Food Examiner, and the owner of Small Pleasures Catering in Los Angeles.


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