Cocktail Party Planning
If you want to organize a cocktail party for celebrations such as birthdays or anniversaries, you can do it yourself. However, if you are inviting more than 20 guests, consider hiring a bartender to serve drinks. According to Wikipedia, “a cocktail party is a party at which cocktails are served. It is sometimes called a cocktail reception. A cocktail party organized for purposes of social or business networking is called a mixer.”
Making and Serving Canapes for a Cocktail Party
Food is essential at any cocktail party, but there is no need to spend hours preparing elaborate dishes. Simple finger canapes or dips are all that is needed. Offer your guests a choice of finger foods and other tidbits that can be eaten with one hand, in one or two bites.
Making tricolor sticks: Thread cubes of feta cheese onto toothpicks or wooden skewers between squares of raw green and red peppers to make tricolor sticks. If you prefer, cook the peppers under the broiler.
Serving Canapes With Style
Using a mirror: Arrange bite-sized finger foods on a mirror tile instead of a plate for an unusual presentation at a formal cocktail party. Leave space between the canapes to achieve the best effect.
Making a dough platter: Roll out shortcrust pastry or bread dough in a round shape. Edge with shaped leftover dough, place on a cookie sheet, glaze with lightly beaten egg, and bake until golden. Use to serve canapes.
Quick and Easy Canapes for a Cocktail Party
Easy canapes, party appetizers, small bites, and finger food ideas:
- Piped celery: Pipe soft, herb-flavored cream cheese into the hollows of celery sticks.
- Pate-filled mushrooms: Remove the stalks from small cup mushrooms, and pipe pate into the hollows left by the stalks.
- Blue-cheese grapes: Mix equal amounts of blue cheese and butter. Cut large black or green grapes in half, and sandwich them back together with the mixture.
- Mini-biscuits: Make mini-sized savory biscuits, and bake until golden. Cool, and top with cream cheese and an olive.
- Chicken-liver toasts: Saute chicken livers quickly in a little butter and sherry. Cut into bite-sized pieces, and spoon onto small French-bread toasts.
- Nachos bites: Spoon a little spicy guacamole or hummus onto tortilla chips and sprinkle with paprika to garnish.
- Bacon twists: Twist thin slices of smoked bacon with strips of puff pastry. Bake at 400°F (200°C) for about 15 minutes, or until the pastry is firm and golden brown.
- Salami cones: Wrap thin slices of salami carefully around melon sticks, and secure each one by piercing it with a toothpick.
- Almond olives: Stuff pitted olives with whole, salted, or smoked almonds.
- Ham with kiwis: Wrap thinly sliced smoked ham around wedges of peeled kiwi fruit, and secure each one with a toothpick.
Party Planning: Preventing Problems
- Preventing soggy pastry: To serve vol-au-vents and other pastries with moist fillings, bake the pastry cases in advance, but add the fillings only one hour before serving.
- Making bite-sized foods: Make canapes small enough to be easily held in the hand and eaten in one mouthful to prevent mess.
- Serving in stages: Serve hot and cold canapes in small batches over a period of about an hour, instead of serving them all at the same time.
- Clearing space: Make space so that guests can put down their drinks and not juggle food and drinks. Clear away empty glasses and food debris.
Party Planning: Making Crudites and Dips
Crudites and dips make excellent food for serving at informal cocktail parties since they are simple to make and can be prepared in advance. Serve plenty of crudites and savory chips for dipping, and make the dips small enough to be eaten in one mouthful.
Party Planning: Preparing and Presenting Crudites
Making an ice ring: Keep vegetables fresh by serving them in an ice ring. Fill a large ring mold with water and freeze. Unmold onto a deep serving dish, and arrange vegetables in the center. Garnish around the ice ring to finish.
Party Planning: Simple Dips
- Tuna: Drain a can of tuna, and mash it with plain yogurt. Add chopped dill to taste.
- Deviled sauce: Mix tomato ketchup with a small amount of Worcestershire sauce.
- Pesto: Stir pesto sauce into light sour cream.
- Blue cheese: Mash equal amounts of blue cheese and soft cream cheese, softening with a little milk if necessary.
- Avocado: Mash avocado with a little mayonnaise, and add lemon juice to taste.
Party Planning: Making and Serving Drinks at a Cocktail Party
Offer drinks to guests as they arrive, and make sure that there is a good selection of soft drinks as well as alcoholic beverages. If you are serving only one or two different drinks, pour them in advance and place them on trays for easy serving. Mix cocktails in pitchers to make serving them easier.
Party Planning: Chilling and Serving
- Chilling bottles: If you are short on refrigerator space for chilling bottles, fill a tub with ice and store the bottles in it until you need them.
- Freezing fruit juice: To prevent drinks from becoming watered down by plain ice cubes, freeze fruit juice into cubes as an alternative.
- Rinsing glasses: Rinse all traces of detergent from glasses before pouring champagne since detergent destroys the bubbles.
- Serving soft drinks: Always include fresh fruit juices and mineral waters among the soft drinks for non-drinkers.
- Making punch: Serve mixed punch at a large party, particularly suitable for large numbers, and can be less expensive than serving a wide selection of wines and spirits.
Party Planning: Preparing and Presenting Drinks
Adding finishing touches: It is worth taking care to serve drinks well, and some of the most effective ideas are quick and simple to achieve. If you want to add a garnish to a cocktail, make sure that you choose a glass large enough so that the drink will not overflow.
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