How to plan a cocktail party like a pro
World Best Bar
Apr 25, 2018
26 November 2020
There’s no party if there are no people, so once you’ve decided on the date, get the word out early. Use your invites to set the tone and let people know the dress code. If you’re working with a theme, then embrace it. Thinking ‘Prohibition chic’? Then use a 1920s poster or Great Gatsby inspired design. It’s a sure-fire way to get folks excited and create a buzz around your party.
Blame it on the booze
Okay, so your invites are sent, and the theme is set. Now comes the most important decision. Booze! You have a couple of options here. You can either have a full bar, a theme bar or a signature bar, but whatever you choose to do, we recommend having a couple of punch bowls set out for when your guests arrive. That way, they can grab a drink straight away, and you’re not bogged down with mixing drinks when you should be welcoming everyone.
- Full Bar
Cocktail maestro? Then the full bar is for you. Stock up on all the usual base spirits and mixers, and you’ll be ready for whatever order is thrown at you. Cocktail-loving guests can even get in on the action and have a go at mixing drinks. You never know, you might discover something new.
- Themed Bar
Base all your cocktails on one or two spirits. Excellent options include gin and whisky or rum and vodka. So long as you have the appropriate mixers and garnishes, you’ll be ready to mix up a storm!
- Signature Bar
Got a theme in mind? Then a signature bar may be the way to go. Decide on two or three cocktails that match your theme and serve them throughout the night. Be sure to choose different spirits and flavour combos to keep your menu fresh. It’s worth considering big batch cocktails, because these can be made ahead of time, giving you more time for mingling and less time for mixing. Unless that’s your jam. Then, by all means, mix away!
Whichever option you choose, don’t forget non-drinkers and those who don’t like cocktails. It’s always a good idea to have some wine, beer and soft drinks on standby, just in case. Or, go really fancy and whip up a few mocktails!
Are you keeping it a short and sweet, planning an all-night rager or doing something in between? However long you plan on partying, you absolutely do not want to be the host that runs out of alcohol.
A good rule of thumb for estimating how much booze you’ll need is to assume people will drink two drinks in the first hour and one drink every hour thereafter. A 70cl bottle of spirit yields 28 25ml servings whereas 1L yields 40. You should estimate about 1L of mixer per every 3 guests. Still with us? Good! Now you can work out just how much alcohol you’re going to need to keep your guests happy!
Could you eat?
No cocktail party is complete without nibbles. And we’re talking about more than a half-hearted bag of pretzels. When it comes to food, you want four or five different hors d’oeuvres plus ‘filler’ snacks like crisps or nuts. If there’s a way to fit your food to your theme, then go for it! Got a 70s vibe going on? Try cheese and pineapple on a cocktail stick! Black-tie affair? Figs topped with goat cheese are the answer.
Oh, and don’t leave your veggie and vegan guests with a single, sad tub of hummus and a couple of carrots. Branch out and experiment with ingredients and flavours to include a couple of meat-free options. Shooters of soup have really taken off in the last few years, so maybe it’s time to embrace the trend!
And more ice.
Think you know how much ice you need? Think again! Double it. Triple it. You can never have enough ice. And don’t be tempted to put all your ice out in one go; you’ll be left with a bucket of very cold water before the night’s done if you do. Always keep some stashed away in your freezer for when you desperately need it.
Glassware is another thing that might slip folks’ minds when planning a cocktail party. But why be limited to traditional highballs and tumblers? Drinking out of an actual glass is overrated. Get inspiration from the latest trends; serve your cocktails in mismatched mugs, jars, mini milk bottles or, hell, even beakers or giant light bulbs! Just make sure you have enough to go around!
And there you have it! Crash course complete! With these tips and tricks up your sleeve, your cocktail party is sure to be a success!
Photo by @cocktail.y on Instagram