This time of year is the perfect opportunity to test out a fancy cocktail or special hors d’oeuvre with a few friends. I love the elegant ease of cocktail parties. They have the potential to look beautiful, but require little work.
- Smitten Kitchen’s french onion toasts (a perennial favorite)
- goops’ diablos
- cheese plate.
- rosemary clementine fizz
- chambord and sparkling wine
With some planning, you can throw a get-together that looks sophisticated, tastes delicious and is still pretty darn simple to do.
One week before:
Plan your menu, so you can gather ingredients without stressing. Try to strike a balance of homemade and purchased items (a.k.a cheese plate and vegetables can be bought ready to serve). Even if you are entertaining a small group, this is important for enjoying the process and party.
The night before:
A great time to tidy the apartment, make sure your serving wear is ready and pick out what you are going to wear (if you’re like me, this takes a little while). The night before, I also caramelized onions for the hors d’oeuvre and made the diablos because they can be served at room temperature. I made sure the prosecco was in the refrigerator, made the rosemary syrup for the cocktail*, sliced vegetables for the crudités and threw it all in the fridge!
*This can be simplified further. There’s the option of just the champagne cocktail (two ingredients!). Or a big batch of self-serve toddies on the stove would also be festive and easy. No mixology required.
One hour before:
I assembled the toasts on a baking sheet and plated the rest of the dishes; it is especially nice to take any cheeses out an hour before so they can soften. I set the cheese plate and vegetables out on the table and picked out some music to play. Mix the pitcher of rosemary clementine fizz and then off to the shower!
Fifteen minutes before:
This is the time to pour some Chambord into flutes (stemless wine glasses would also look great) and fill a few martini glasses with the rosemary clementine fizz. Set out appetizer plates, napkins and light candles. Preheat the oven for the toasts and play some holiday tunes. Mariah, anyone? Once folks start to arrive, make it easy on yourself; enlist a friend to help pull it altogether as guests arrive. My friend Caley poured the drinks above while I threw the toasts in the oven. The work was done!Happy holidays!
Rosemary Clementine Fizz
Makes 4 drinks. Double and serve in a pitcher if you like!
1 cup Campari
1 cup Tanqueray gin
1 cup fresh-squeezed clementine
1/2 cup rosemary syrup
1 cup seltzer water
Garnish: sprigs of rosemary
Shake first 4 ingredients with ice, remove ice and top with the seltzer. Mix gently and serve in chilled glasses. A highball would be perfect but I served it in martini glasses!