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Throw a Trendy Cocktail Party

A cocktail party is quality time with friends over a few drinks and nibbles. Usually held from 5 to 7, it’s the perfect get-together during the week as well as the weekend. Large or intimate, spontaneous or planned, it’s always fun.

Warm Atmosphere

Ensure your guests' enjoyment with a warm, relaxed atmosphere, some background music and a big bouquet of seasonal flowers. The whole point of a cocktail party is to encourage people to mingle, wandering from one group to another with glass in hand. But carrying a glass and plate around can be tiring, so arrange small tables in various parts of the room, where guests can set their glass or plate down if they wish.

Sophisticated, Original Presentations

Part of the appeal of these tantalizing mouthfuls lies in their presentation. Choose big platters whose colours complement the savouries and canapés. In preparing your canapés, remember that cocktail food should be bite-sized. Put plenty of cocktail toothpicks on each platter.

  • For a pineapple pin-cushion of mini cheese and fruit brochettes, thread cubes of mango and tomme or cubed goat's cheese with sliced star fruit on toothpicks, alternating them.
  • Wrap pieces of papaya or mango, quartered figs or melon balls in thin slices of ham or prosciutto.
  • Cut the top off cherry tomatoes, then core and fill them with pistou (provençal pesto), mozzarella or cocktail shrimp with mayonnaise.
  • Cut roasted red peppers into strips and roll them round cubes of feta. Fasten rolls with toothpicks, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with minced olives.
  • Cut a cucumber into 1½-in. (4-cm) long pieces and wrap these in thin slices of smoked salmon. Fasten rolls with toothpicks.
  • Cut paler part of celery into pieces and fill with a mixture of equal parts of butter and roquefort mashed together with a fork. Garnish with a slice of black olive.
  • Chop smoked trout or salmon fillets into small pieces. Do not mince. Stir in 2 Tbsp. (30 mL) heavy cream and 2 Tbsp. (30 mL) shredded fresh dill. Serve on toasted bread.

Cocktail napkins are a must with finger food. Make sure you have plenty out for guests.

What about Drinks?

For a big cocktail party, plan on three different drinks, maybe a punch, mineral water and fruit juices and calculate eight hot or cold tidbits per person. Beware of mixed drinks whose sweetness masks their alcoholic content making them seem innocuous.

Choosing a wine as aperitif allows you to avoid the fuss of mixed drinks. The wine, white or red, should be dry. Offer one or two of your favourite wines, sparkling wines or, for big occasions, champagne.

Aperitif wines like white Lillet, pale or red Pineau des Charentes, Floc de Gascogne, and suave aromatic natural sweet wines like Beaumes-de-Venise or muscat de Frontignan or de Lunel are quite popular.

Aperitifs are rarely strong because the whole idea is to wake the appetite by teasing the taste buds not anesthetizing them! People who enjoy highballs will appreciate campari and soda, white port and tonic or cognac and carbonated water.

Use a polished silver tray to serve drinks, the reflection of glasses and their contents will be fabulous. Rim the glasses with fine salt or fruit sugar. Adding a little lemon juice or water helps make the sugar or salt stick.

Some people avoid alcohol, so make sure that you have a selection of fruit juices and mineral water.


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