Planning a cocktail party or small gathering should include a variety of alcoholic drinks, non-alcoholic drinks, and a small selection of wines for sampling. Hosts can keep it simple too, if the gathering is non-formal. Hosts can tailor their event’s beverages to suit their guest’s needs, build on a theme or the foods served, or if unsure, it does not hurt to ask guests prior to purchasing supplies what they prefer.
Once a host has made their drink selections, they should contemplate hors-d’oeuvres or whether to serve a heavier meal. The hour of the party should help guide this decision since events held during standard meal times typically include more sustenance, but appetizers as a meal work if the host includes more variety and heartier options. Hosts shouldn’t fear to redo their wines or beverage list either if they discover a better-suited varietal.
Hors d’oeuvres Ideas
If an event won’t be catered, hosts might consider a buffet style for presentation and serving. Something to consider when choosing which food is how long the food can stay out without refrigeration. Non-dairy or mayo-based dips will last longer. Hosts should bring out dairy and mayo-based foods in small batches and time them; once the max time before spoilage arises, they should toss it out and replace it. Cheeses are the exception. Hosts should serve cheeses at room temperature for optimal flavor.
This small selection of light bites pairs well with multiple mixed drinks, spirits, and red and white wines.
• Poached Green Almonds with Dill—Green almonds simmer in a bath of delicious Organic California Extra Virgin Olive Oil, OJ, and aromatics.
• Duchess Potatoes—dressed up mashed potatoes the host pipes into bite-size dollops and bakes.
• Smoked Shrimp—this is an easy crowd pleaser. If smoking shrimp at home, hosts should peel them prior to serving or opt for a tail-on variety.
• Greek Salad Skewers or Kabobs—hunks of feta sit between fresh tomatoes and cucumber; hosts can take this idea and mix up the ingredients to create new flavors too, like apple, cheddar, and grape for a traditional twist.
• Cheese Stuffed Apricots—vanilla infused Mascarpone cheese meets the sweet dried apricot and a dusting of chopped, roasted pistachios. Ricotta works in a pinch too, just drain it first.
The Cheese Platter
Cheese and wine are like peas and carrots, but beer, spirits, and mixed drinks go well with many kinds of cheese too. Part of the fun in a pairing event is trial and error, especially among friends. Hosts without an extensive knowledge of cheese or access to a cheese shop can choose a simple but elegant spread of three cheeses—Brie, cheddar, and blue cheese. Accompany each cheese with a fruit. Grapes or berries go well with Brie. Pair blue cheese with fresh, ripe pear slices. Cheddar is versatile and does well with apples and quince paste. No matter the cheese, be sure to serve a deliciously sliced baguette alongside cheeses.