Hosting a cocktail party for the first time can be nerve-wracking for even the most experienced social butterfly. Following the tips listed below can help organize and ease the worries of all cocktail hosts.
Choose a Theme
Having a theme at the party will help keep everything tied together. Just because there is a theme does not mean that all guests attending have to follow the theme – they do not even need to know about it beforehand. Keep it simple – choose a color, flavor, or clothing item, for example. Choosing a theme can add that final finishing touch to a party without increase the budget tremendously.
Begin Planning the Cocktail Party
Begin planning by determining how much alcohol is needed. Plan on each guest drinking three cocktails and keep in mind that each 750 ml bottle will make 15 cocktails. Also, remember to include beer, wine, and non-alcoholic drinks for those who have other preferences.
Choose the Drink Menu
Once the number of drinks has been determined, choose which drinks will be served. The most important thing to remember when hosting a cocktail party is to choose the menu. Just like the menu for a dinner party, a menu will need to be selected for which cocktails will be served. Don’t try to stock the bar to serve every drink.
Pick up to four drinks and stick with those throughout the night. Remember that beer and wine are available for those who may not like any of the cocktails selected.
For smaller parties, the host should be able to make the drinks on their own. Mix the drinks beforehand and place them on a tray to distribute to guests. This way, the guests can choose which of the four drinks they prefer.
At a very large party, the host probably will have to hire someone to tend the bar in order to keep up with the drink demand and still fulfill hosting duties.
Spend time Hosting, Mingling with Guests
Because the drinks are already taken care of, the host will be able to spend time mingling, introducing guests to one another, and facilitating conversation. Remember, the host should have as much if not more fun than the guests attending and should not appear frazzled, as it will distract from the overall atmosphere of the party.
Choose the Hors d’oeurves
Hors d’oeurves need not be immaculate. Simple, classic, and traditional snacks will be more popular than exotic and expensive, so stick with the basics. Consider fruits, vegetables, cheese, crackers, and meat.
Remember, once the party has started, many of the events are out of the hosts’ hands. Relax and have fun. If something goes wrong, few will notice. Take time to interact with friends and minimize the time spent managing the party.
Setting Up Your Home Bar
Sooner or later, it happens. You look around and think, “Wouldn’t it be great to have something just a little bit nicer than sticking the bottles on top of the refrigerator?” You imagine yourself whipping up cocktails for friends and casually suggesting they should try a dash of bitters in that. The yearning for a home bar is born. And it’s easier than you think to make that dream come true, even with little space or a small budget.
Permanent or Portable?
The first decision to make is whether you will have a permanent bar, or something more mobile. Unless you own your home, making a permanent addition complete with electrical and plumbing connections probably isn’t practical – landlords tend to frown on that sort of thing, especially in small apartments!
If you are lucky enough to have the space for a permanent bar, it’s important to pick the perfect location. Where do you do most of your entertaining? Do you have casual get-togethers with friends watching the ball game in the basement rec room? Or do you have elegant cocktail parties in your formal living room? It only makes sense to place the bar in the room where it will get the most use.
You’re going to need space, so plan for at least a four to five square foot area. It doesn’t have to be in a corner, but a corner location generally will save both space and construction time. If you want to include extras like a sink, a keg box, a wine cooler or a mini-fridge, check for existing outlets and plumbing. Unless you’re very talented, hiring experts to run electrical and plumbing lines can get expensive.
If you don’t want to install a permanent fixture, consider a cocktail cabinet. These cabinets are designed to house your bar equipment, glassware, and liquor. Look for a cabinet that has a pull-out shelf or a large enough top to mix and serve drinks. An internet search for bar furniture or bar furnishings will amaze you with the options available – small contemporary cabinets, ornate Victorian hutches, bamboo tiki bars, even large wooden bars complete with footrails and room for stools.
One more idea for your bar is to convert another piece of furniture. Cabinets, armoires or buffets all can be modified for use. An advantage to this sort of cabinet is the ability to do more to customize your storage space – for instance, if you hate wine, forgo the wine rack and instead create small display shelves for your souvenir shot glass collection. Whether you buy a pre-made cabinet or design your own, you’ll find it more convenient if you can place your bar near a sink or kitchen, to make it easier to wash up.
Small Space Solution
If space is a problem, or you need to be able to move your bar easily, consider a rolling cart or mobile bar. You won’t be able to add running water, refrigerator, or wine cooler, but you’ll be able to store your liquor, glassware, and other essentials in one convenient location, and stash them out of the way when they’re not being used. (And being able to roll the whole thing into the kitchen to clean up is a plus.) As with all bars, make sure you choose a cabinet with enough room to lay out glassware and prepare drinks, either on top or on a pull-out countertop.