Hosting any party can be intimidating, but cocktail parties are a different beast. It can be a daunting task, and it's easy to feel overwhelmed, especially it this is your first one.
But with a little bit of planning and preparation, you can make sure that your guests have a great time and make the entire affair feel more manageable!
This blog post will give you some tips on what you should prep in the days and weeks leading up to the party to make your cocktail party a success. We'll cover everything from putting up a drinking station to choosing the perfect straws. So read on for more information that will help you throw the first cocktail party!
1. Homemade Syrups
A few handmade syrups can easily up your cocktail-making game, whether you’re serving classic mojitos or adventurous Absinthe frappes. Of course, a batch of simple syrup is non-negotiable.
However, you can also make various sweet infusions using brewed tea, fruit juice, spices, herbs, and fresh fruit. For example, you can easily make green tea syrup by combining equal parts tea and sugar. Store the final product in a small glass container in the fridge for two weeks.
You can also make a ginger, lavender, or orgeat simple syrup to have more options to make your party feel that much more special.
2. Crudite Platters
You aren’t hosting a dinner party, so there’s no need to serve a full meal. However, guests shouldn’t drink on an empty stomach, either. Meet them in the middle by serving a gorgeous crudite platter.
There are many ways to prep finger foods beforehand, whether you assemble a Mediterranean mezze spread or a market veggie board with assorted dips.
Chop veggies, fruits, and cheeses the night before and store them in the fridge, as you would with standard meal prepping. Then, assemble the platter a few hours before the party and cover it in damp paper towels until guests arrive.
You can also prepare charcuterie boards. They’re easy to put together and give guests a variety of options. You can either go the traditional route with cured meats, cheeses, and crackers or get creative with a themed board.
For example, you could do a Mediterranean-themed charcuterie board with hummus, olives, feta cheese, and pita bread or an Italian-themed board with salami, Parmesan cheese, and crostini.
3. Cocktail Napkins
Serving finger foods at your cocktail party is a great option because you’ll have little to no cutlery to wash afterward. However, it does mean messy fingers, so you should prepare accordingly. Also, the act of preparing napkins during parties suggests good etiquette on your part.
Stock up on many cocktail napkins---you can either use paper or linen types. You can even use wet naps if you're serving extra sticky snacks.
Paper napkins are the most popular options for cocktail parties. Depending on their thickness, you can choose paper napkins: 1-ply, 2-ply, or 3-ply. The thicker the napkin, the more absorbent it is.
Linen napkins are a bit fancier, but you have to collect them at the end of the party and wash them. You can also buy those with fancy designs that would match your theme. The best thing about these fabric ones is that they're the most eco-friendly.
4. Premixed Drinks
Make a big batch of premixed drinks so you can mingle with guests and enjoy your party. Pick one or two classic cocktails and mix all the ingredients the night before. Then, pour the concoctions into pitchers and keep them in the fridge until guests arrive.
Recipes that include fresh fruit and herbs are best because they’ll infuse your cocktails with more flavor the longer they sit. Just keep ice out of the equation, or you’ll end up with watered-down cocktails on the big day.
5. A DIY Drink Station
Speaking of ice, why not let guests add their own? Set up a do-it-yourself drink station and let party-goers play mixologist for the night. Arrange some glasses, an ice bucket, garnishes, cocktail napkins, and cocktail picks on a small table or countertop.
6. Eco-Friendly Straws
Some drinks lend themselves to straight sipping, while others require a straw to get past all the ice and extra garnishes. Plastic cocktail straws may be cheap, but they’ll inevitably end up as waste in landfills and the environment. Do planet Earth a favor and sip responsibly with reusable straws.
Straws made of glass, metal, or paper will impress guests and boost your party’s sustainability factor. You can even wash them and send them home as party favors to encourage eco-friendly living after the festivities are over. Buy a pack of 10 or 20 and set them out at your DIY drink station to prepare for a fun and eco-conscious evening with friends.
7. Crushed Ice
Whether you're making screwdrivers or Moscow mules, you’ll definitely need some crushed ice for your cocktail party. You could simply buy a bag of nugget ice from your local grocery store, but you can just as easily create your own if you have some time to prep beforehand.
In the days leading up to the big bash, make a few dozen ice cubes and store them in a bag in your freezer.
The next morning add them to a blender in 2-3 cup increments. Add cold water to cover half the ice and pulse until most chunks are about a quarter-inch in size. Use a fine-mesh strainer to get rid of the water, and voila! You have crushed ice you can stick in the freezer until the drinks are ready for assembly.
Cocktail parties can be a lot of fun, but they also require some extra planning and preparation—it can be intimidating if you've never thrown one before. Hopefully, our tips have given you a few ideas on how to make your first cocktail party go smoothly and ensure that your guests have a great time.
What cocktails and snacks are you planning to serve for your cocktail party? We'd love to hear from you!