Where did it start?
It is said that the cocktail party was invented by the brit Alec Waugh, brother of the great novelist Evelyn Waugh, but an article in St. Paul's Pioneer Press from may 1917 credits Mrs. Julius S. Walsh Jr. of St. Louis, Missouri. She invited 50 guests on a sunday at 12 am for a one-hour cocktail party. At 1 pm they all went home and soon it was the new craze.
How to invite
These days everything is about texting or sending emails. Nothing wrong with that. You can quickly remind people on the upcoming date for the cocktail party and keep tabs on the guestlist, who's coming and who's not. The more formal way of inviting is the printed invitation with a return email adress. It will make the occasion more formal, but also more intimate. Your guests may like and enjoy your artwork skills and efforts. Make sure your guests can reply per email or text.
You will need ICE, glasses, serving trays or platters, cocktailshaker, a set of bar tools, eating utensils and lots of napkins. About glassware...you do not have to have every type of fancy cocktailglass in stock. 3-4 different types is sufficient. Low ball, High Ball and a classic cocktail glass. Also have some beer and wineglasses ready for guests who are not into cocktails, there are some out there. About serving plates...they do not have to match, it's great if the guests can identify the different hors d'euvres from the color and shape of the serving platters. Get some second hand ones. About tools....any department store these days have cocktail sets with shake, strainer, jigger, bar spoon, bottle opener and wooden muddler at all prices. Also the an ice bucket! About eating utensils....you need small forks, cocktail sticks, maybe small plates and lots of napkins. Likewise small knives for cutting fruit and of course a cutting board. It's up to you where you mix your cocktails, but the food should be prepared in the kitchen and whisked in at the right time.
How much ice do I need?
You'll need one pound (500g) per guest or 10 ponds per every 4 guests.
What about the booze?
You can stock decent vodka, gin, vermouth, mead, white rum, whisky and regional liquors and be more than okay. But you don't have to. Pick the 3 cocktails you want to serve at the party. Buy the ingredients needed and you're good to go. Rehearse in making the cocktails. Rehearse again. A little showmanship and sophistication will be appreciated by your guests. If there is wine and beer too as options, everybody's happy. You can make it a theme cocktail party and announce:”Come and have Negronis between 6 and 8 pm!”
Call Malling Mjød and we'll help you finding the right mead for your cocktails and provide recipes. And remember, mead and food are the perfect match anytime.
How about the food?
That all depends on what cocktails you serve. Not every cocktail is good with devilled eggs. If you aren´t an expert in food pairing there is a lot of websites on bitesize cocktail food. This one is the ”dip” way: lot of hummus and lentils https://www.chatelaine.com/recipes/recipe-collections/make-ahead-cocktail-party-snacks/#gallery/cocktail-party-snack-recipes/slide-1
This one is the more american approach https://www.delish.com/food/g2168/bite-size-appetizers/
You'll never go wrong if you serve local food with a history, fresh vegetables and fruit, local charcuterie even pork cracklings. But olives, cheeses, salty things, small savory pastries are always a hit. Remember it's all about your cocktails. You have to have 3-4 options of food - no more - this is not a dinner party. Make sure your guests can eat the food just by using napkins, toothpicks and fingers.
If your guests are bikers it's okay with ”Sweet Home Alabama” for 2 hours, but a playlist of classical music, lounge, mild soul will go a long way. But not too loud. If the party theme is James Bond and everybody is in gold lamé and tuxes a 2 hour playlist of Bond themes will hit the spot.
We hope you will throw a lot of cocktail parties in the future. Great for catching up on what's going on, trying surprising new flavors and entering the general feel-good zone....
The Malling Mjød Team