Happy Valentines day! This post is a perfect fit for today – romance and cocktails. This party plan is for a classy cocktail party which I threw to celebrate the engagement of our dear friends, Erikka and Michael. They are such an amazing couple so I wanted to go the extra mile to make this one memorable which meant dressing up, gold everywhere and thoughtful touches. One tough issue to tackle as a hostess is either guests who you aren’t super familiar with or guests that don’t know each other all that well. That was the case here, with family and friends coming in from all over so I wanted to keep the mood light while still making it feel special. My solution – a make it yourself cocktail bar. The centerpiece of this party certainly gave me some sleepless nights leading up to the date (are people going to think I am a jerk asking them to make their own drinks???) but it was a hit! It really encouraged mingling and being engaged in the party and also freed up myself and Patrick to make sure everyone was felt taken care of with food etc.
Pick a couple of classic cocktails that are relatively easy to make – I went with the classic martini, manhattans, negroni and vesper. I printed out the recipes and framed them so even a cocktail neophyte could be their own mixologist. Then set out everything people will need to make the cocktails – the key here is in the luxe touches. Instead of setting out giant bottles of vodka and gin I put them out in pretty decanters. You will also need a selection of liqueurs like vermouth for the martinis. We also had sparkling wine (my favorite house one of course) for those who didn’t want to do the cocktail thing so I set out casis, framboise and St. Germain as good toppers for the bubbly. Red and wine wine as well as some beer rounded out the bar.
Ramekins with all the garnishes needed like stuffed olives, maraschino cherries and citrus twists meant it was super easy for guests to customize their drink.
Real glasses are a must here, plastic just won’t do. Shop around to find something that fits your style and budget. I went with these martini glasses from World Market, that were perfect because of the slight bend in the glass they also worked for sparkling wine, almost like a coupe. I couldn’t help myself and got custom made martini glasses for the happy couple.
I always like to give out favors and for this party they served a purpose as well. I found these great mini shakers on a restaurant supply site and got one per guest. People used them to make their cocktails and then got to take them home to remember all the fun we had. The shakers set out out on the table added even more metallic glamour.
If people are knocking back cocktails all night you want to make sure the food is substantial. I kept with the classic theme and did old school appetizers, just classed up a little. Pigs in a blanket are always a favorite but made with puff pastry and poppy seeds they have way more flavor than the original.
Who doesn’t love a cheese puff? Gougeres are amazing french cheese puffs and best of all they can be made in advance, frozen and then reheated right before the party. These went FAST.
The chicken salad veronique cups that I posted a couple of weeks ago were a perfect one bite so people didn’t have to mess around with forks or knives.
Add a very substantial cheese board, bowls of olives and nuts, and some dips (I made the groom’s favorite with crudite) and people will have plenty to nosh on while they mix and mingle.
I ordered these beautiful napkins from For Your Party – they are my favorite resource for customized items and they always turn out beautiful.
Finish off the party with something sweet – I did my Individual Tiramisu because they are a sentimental favorite of the couple. You could always head to your local bakery and get a selection of cookies, brownies etc to make things even easier.
It was an incredible night for an incredible couple. But don’t wait for friends to get engaged to throw this party – this would be a great way to break up the winter doldrums by getting dressed up and shaking some cocktails. Wishing everyone a very happy Valentines day and congratulations Erikka and Michael!!