When making your cocktail party playlist, think about what songs put you in a good mood and make you want to just kick back with a cocktail and watch the sun go down. Here are some of our favorites — then share your go-to picks with us below!
Escape — Rupert Holmes
Mack the Knife —Bobby Darin
Girl from Ipanema — Stan Getz/Astrud Gilberto
You Might Think — The Cars
Sporting Life Blues — Eric Clapton
I’ve Got the World on a String — Frank Sinatra
Feelin’ the Same Way — Norah Jones
Dreams Be Dreams — Jack Johnson
Dance Me to the End of Love — Madeleine Peyroux
Turn Out the Stars — Bill Evans
Cocktail Party Playlist - Recipes
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Dutch Apple Punch Recipe cinnamon, apple cider, orange juice, apple juice We usually make this for thanksgiving but it great anytime. 1 Combine cinnamon sticks and chilled apple juice chill for 2 hours. 2 Discard cinnamon sticks. 3 Combine apple juice with remaining c.
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Always Order Dessert
Last week, while the snow fell wildly in New York, we turned back the clocks inside and celebrated Christmas like we imagined some might have decades ago.
Inspired by a few of my recent vintage cookbook acquisitions and the season finale of Mad Men, I decided to throw a Christmas party that takes place just after the show left us: in December 1963.
For four weeks straight I dog-eared recipes for clam dip and molded salads, and scoured eBay for mid-century serving pieces (including an awesome deviled egg plate!). I bid (and mostly won) nearly every single magazine I could find from December 1963, amassing a brilliant collection with the intention of leaving them scattered about my apartment the perfect set dressing to better help guests get into the mood.
Along with the Better Homes & Gardens and Good Housekeeping I left in plain view on our bed (where guests would be leaving their coats), I placed a Life (featuring our brand new President Johnson on the cover) near the bar, a few Gourmet s in the kitchen, and a second Look and Saturday Evening Pos t on one of the chairs in the living room. And, for the boys, I left the 1963 Playboy Christmas special conspicuously displayed in the bathroom. (That's Eugene's brother down there sneaking a peek!)
Music The playlist was a carefully researched list of popular hits from 1963, along with a few classics from early years (and, I admit, a couple Mancini tunes from the mid-60s that were just too awesome to not include but which absolutely captured the right spirit). I created the whole list via Grooveshark so you can actually check out the playlist or even used it at your own retro cocktail party without having to download or buy anything. It's a wonderful collection of pop hits, bossanova, mambo, bugaloo, and pachanga. (Click here for the retro 1960s playlist)
Poor Eugene has been subjected to it so many times that he actually has a favorite song on it: "The Bossa Nova Hand Dance" by Connie Francis I'm partial to Ann-Margret's "Thirteen Men" which tells the story of how the H-bomb blew up the world and eliminated everyone except her and thirteen men. Simply the limit!
Party Favors & Goodie Bags
From the very start, I knew I wanted to hand out goodie bags to all the guests who attended and while looking for ideas to fill the bags, I came across a great site called "For Your Party" that offered pretty reasonably-priced personalization. I ended up ordering personalized matchboxes, cocktail napkins, and goodie bags that said "Merry Christmas 1963 at Eugene & Alejandra's" in a retro red lettering with cute starburst detail on white backgrounds.
I filled the goodie bags with the matchboxes, a package of vintage gum, jingle bells, Hershey Kisses, Tootsie Rolls & Peanut Butter Cups and some pretty bright red tissue paper to match the lettering on the bags.
Smoking was still cool in the sixties, but friends don't let friends smoke real cigarettes in 2009, so I ordered a big box of vintage bubblegum cigarettes to offer guests as party favors when they arrived. This way everyone could look just as cool as Don and Betty. without the risk of lung cancer!
I wanted the bar to have a mock-polynesian "Tiki" look, so I decorated it with a bamboo runner and a real pineapple. I ordered tropical themed swizzle sticks and cocktail umbrellas which I poked into just about everything!
Eugene arranged Christmas twinkle lights on the back of the bar and I put vintage milk bottles filled with fresh lemon juice, lime juice, and homemade simple syrup. I got two kinds of olives for the martinis, a big vintage milk glass bowl of maraschino cherries, and had Eugene cut up lots of lime and lemon wedges. ( note that the above photo was taken after it had already been a bit ransacked )
My collection of bar glasses was set up just to the side. My friend and vintage rockstar extraordinaire Sammy of Sammy Davis Vintage let me borrow her big chrome ice bucket which her parents had received as a wedding present back in the 70s (a big anachronistic, but really perfect!). That's her up there on the left next to my coworker Matthew. (You can read Sammy's own recap of my retro cocktail party here.)
And because no retro cocktail party is complete without a punch bowl, I also mixed up a big bowl of pink Sparkling Gin Punch in a big vintage grape leaf punch bowl.
Along with the vintage magazine, I set out a few bowls of homemade peppermint bark and cocktail books to add to the scene. We made a trip out to BJs the weekend before and stocked up on the booze, mixers, and bitters so we could offer our guests a full bar.
My friend Matt Looney played bartender masterfully, bringing along his full set of bar tools and shakers, and serving up an Old Fashioned that would have made Don Draper drool! Eugene thought he did such a fine job that he set out a tip cup for him and tossed in a few bills.
In the interest of space and authenticity, I decided to trade my usual big green Christmas tree for a retro tabletop aluminum one just like they had in the sixties. I was vying for a real vintage beauty on eBay but fell victim to my ADD just seconds before the bidding closed and lost out. Fortunately, I came across a perfect version on the West Elm website and called a nearby store to see if they had any in stock. The salesgirl told me they only had a floor model so, like a good thrifty 60s hostess, I negotiated and was able to bring it home for less than half the original price!
The rest of the apartment was decorated with plenty of twinkle lights, dangling icicles, and baskets of glittery Christmas ornaments. I lit candles all over the place (although far away from the flammable aluminum Christmas tree) and placed candy dishes filled with Hershey kisses and starlight mints all over the rooms.
Food is key when planning any kind a party, and nevermore-so with such a specific retro theme. I relied heavily on my collection of vintage cookbooks including The Betty Crocker Hostess Cookbook, Helen Gurley Brown's Single Girl's Cookbook, Cosmo Cookery, and Thoughts for Buffets . There were so many incredible (and somewhat quirky) recipes, that I had to stop myself from making them ALL. To be honest, I just spent most of the time wishing I could open up a retro bed and breakfast that would be all vintage ALL THE TIME! Wouldn't that be amazing?
I'm also thinking that I may need to do a "vintage food for modern living" cookbook someday in the future because there is just too much good stuff out there that really shouldn't be lost (and which I know would appeal to all the retro fans out there. Consider it officially added to my list of life goals!
After hearing me talk about it for weeks, I know that some of my friends were a little freaked about the food that I would be serving, but when the time came, many of them were shocked by how good it actually was. I'll never forget my friend and coworker Aryanna's face when she took her first bite of my special Lime, Cucumber, Pineapple, and Cilantro Jell-O salad and exclaimed
"Miss Ramos! This is SO good! Why is this good?!" before helping herself to a second slice.
The truth is it WAS good. Refreshing and fruity I definitely plan on serving it again come summertime. and I will absolutely be experimenting with more Jell-O salads. They're delightful!
I also really enjoyed being able to play with the presentation and decoration of all the food it was a chance to really let go and just have fun with it all. My rule for sixties style food plating was basically "do a lot. then add three things." Hence the porcupine-shaped cheese ball (we named him "Delicious"), the salmon-shaped salmon mousse, and the copious umbrellas and skewers. Oh and when in doubt, ALWAYS add a sprinkle of paprika! Or a cherry! Or a cocktail umbrella!
Here is my complete party menu. (The recipes are being slowly posted and linked below in the menu.)
The Always Order Dessert 1960s Cocktail Party Menu
Buffet Table Clam Dip (Adapted from Helen Gurley Brown's Single Girl's Cookbook , 1969)
Homemade French Onion Dip (original recipe based on the classic Lipton dip)
Lime, Cucumber, Pineapple & Cilantro Jell-O Salad (adapted from Thoughts for Buffets , 1958)
Mock-Rumaki with Scallops in Oriental Sauce (adapted from the Betty Crocker Hostess Cookbook , 1965)
Pineapple and Brown Sugar glazed Spiral Ham (adapted from Thoughts for Buffets , 1958)
Utz Potato Chips (courtesy of Sterling Cooper)
Dessert Ambrosia Fruit Salad (adapted from ErinCooks.com)
Sugar Cookies (adapted from the Betty Crocker Hostess Cookbook , 1965)
Rice Krispie Treats (classic Kellogg's recipe)
Cocktails Sparkling Gin Punch (Gourmet Magazine, June 1967)
French 75 (my personal favorite)
Bitter Orange Kindler (Gourmet Magazine, December 1965)
Ward 8 Cocktail (Gourmet Magazine, October 1962)
Martini Champagne Full Bar
Even though there was a blizzard raging outside, nearly everyone who intended to come still made it out to the party. Guests came in from New Jersey, Queens, Brooklyn, Long Island, and all over the city. Even my little brother, Gabriel, who NEVER comes to any of my parties, drove in from Jersey with his good friend, Dan, and (reportedly) had a great time (that's Gab in the swanky hat)!
I asked that the guests come dressed for the era with skinny ties and vintage glam and everyone looked wonderful. We had a fantastic time and I look forward to another great party next year.
To see the rest of the pictures from the part, you can visit my Flickr or Facebook albums. And be sure to let me know in the comments how you all celebrated your own Christmas and New Year's parties!!
Ladies' Night Cocktail Recipes
The presentation of this gin cocktail is almost as good as it taste! Serve it in a punch bowl with a lemon-garnished block of ice.
This beer-champagne-espresso cocktail will give you the caffeine kick you need to spend the rest of the night toasting to you and your ladies&apos friendship.
Satisfy your sweet tooth with this fruity sparkling beverage! Add more berries of your choice for a spirited and colorful cocktail.
Vodka Cocktails: The Bloody Mary
A Bloody Mary bar with your favorite ladies is a great way to catch up. You can&apost go wrong with these spicy sippers -- and the topping options are endless! Watch our how-to video to learn how to make the perfect bloody.
This red-hued sipper is a perfect companion to all of the decadent munchies you and your girlfriends should be rewarding yourselves with. Pair it with dark chocolate or a salty snack.
A roundup of the best healthy appetizers for a fabulous fall cocktail party.
The recipes that aren’t nutrition powerhouses like the mini pizza cups are portion-controlled so your guests can get their share of fatty, salty goodness in a bite-sized package, and then fill up on the artsy veggie cups, sneaky “creamed” spinach, and baked (not fried) vegetable wontons…for example.
I’ve also thrown in some flirty cocktail recipes and three healthier desserts to tie the whole evening together.
10 Secrets for throwing a successful cocktail party
Throwing a fabulous cocktail party seems simple enough–delicious food, great music and plenty of drinks, right? Well there are a few more secrets to throwing a successful cocktail party–especially if you want your friends to be raving about it instead of gossiping about the the rowdy guest that no one cut off. So if you want to throw a cocktail party that is the talk of the town, follow these 10 secrets and we can guarantee your cocktail party will be a memorable one–in a good way!
From hors d’oeuvres to the right kinds of chips, a successful party needs tasty food. It doesn’t have to be over the top–unless you’re holding a sit-down dinner party– but make sure that whatever bite-size snacks you serve are bursting with flavour. Also make sure you have plenty of food–this will keep your guests from drinking too much, too fast.
Keep the cocktails pouring!
A bad party is the kind that runs out of drinks. So make sure you have enough cocktails on hand–no one wants to make a beer run once the party gets started. A fun idea to avoid empty drinks is to create a mini drink menu for your guests–you can print it on cute notecards and “hire” one of your friends [who’s willing] to be the “bartender.” Or if you’re throwing a large bash, you can always hire a real bartender for the evening.
This goes without saying–if you have great friends, your party will be a success. A successful cocktail party must have good conversation, lots of laughs and fun mingling scenarios. So make sure to send invites to the right people!
Keep it drama-free
Make sure your guests leave the drama at home. If you have a drama-seeking friend [e.g., that sloppy girl who drinks too much and makes a fool of herself or the person who never lets you get a word in, all the while talking about everything they dislike], then don’t invite him or her. Invite people who will vibe well together and who will make the party conversations fun and interesting.
Set the mood for your party with the right decor and music. Throwing a bunch of people into a silent room and hoping for the best is a terrible idea, not to mention awkward. So start with a playlist of good tunes to set the mood. Also make sure to be on top of introductions–suggest what your guests may have in common or how you know them. This will help get them talking while you tend to other guests, food, drinks, etc.
Why go out searching for your favorite hard seltzer (sorry, White Claws!) when you can make your own at home? This hard seltzer recipe is truly everything we didn’t know we needed. We’re partial to the orange ginger flavor, but you can also find recipes for lime and mint as well as grapefruit.
9 Tips for an Easy & Elegant Cocktail Party
I absolutely love entertaining and having gatherings both large and small at our home any time of year. But this is my favorite time to do so. You just can&rsquot beat the joy of the holiday season: the glitter, the sparkles, the music, the FOOD. It&rsquos wonderful.
However, considering the insane schedule everyone has from Thanskgiving to Christmas, along with all those other regular, everyday responsibilities that don&rsquot just disappear, planning a small get-together can turn me into one giant stress ball. I come from a long line of lovely holiday hostesses (my grandmothers, aunts and mom all throw the most wonderful parties!) and I&rsquove learned a few tips from them along the way.
1 - Send a pretty invite.
I can&rsquot even tell you how giddy I get about receiving a tangible paper invite in the mail as opposed to an evite over email. It&rsquos a classic and classy move that instantly elevates any party you&rsquore planning. Invite sent? You&rsquore off to a great and elegant start!
The downside to a paper invite is that it takes a bit more advance planning. There are many stationary stores where you can find pretty invitations and write on them by hand, and of course, you can also order online if you&rsquove planned far enough ahead. It&rsquos by no means necessary, so don&rsquot think that you NEED a paper invite to have a party.
2 - Consider a Thursday.
If you want to throw a party at the last minute, consider a Thursday. December is a CRAZY month for everyone. While you&rsquod most likely never catch me replying &ldquoYes!&rdquo to a party during the week (because I&rsquom secretly 85 years old and like to be in bed early), I find that during the holiday season, anything goes. I like to look at December as one huge holiday month, and I remember my mom having parties on December weeknights when I was kid. Thursday is generally a close-enough extension of the weekend, and I find that most people look forward to a relaxing and lovely evening on Thursdays. There&rsquos a bonus, too: even if you&rsquore throwing a semi-fancy party, it will feel a bit more relaxed and un-stuffy on a Thursday.
3 - Don&rsquot forget a cheese board.
This is my absolute party must-have! Whether I&rsquom having five people or thirty people over, I make a cheese board. Always. First, it covers all the bases. You can have meat, cheese, crackers, fruit and veggies on one plate. It doesn&rsquot have to be insane and it doesn&rsquot even have to offer a wide variety of options. I might even share a secret and tell you that some grocery stores (cough, Sam&rsquos Club, Costco, cough) already sell cheese squares (with GOOD cheese!) and sliced meat that you can assemble as you wish, on a pretty dish!
5 - Keep it simple.
Once you have your cheese board planned out, pick anywhere from one to three more recipes, depending on the size of your party. Simple is better, and offering only a few choices is an elegant move. Remember, it&rsquos a cocktail party&mdashyou don&rsquot need full dishes.
Choose recipes that you can make ahead of time. A few weeks ago I taught a small bites cooking class, and almost everything we made could be prepared the night before. This was so awesome! A handful of ideas that you can use here include a cream-cheese based dip that can be made the night before and baked off right before the party, or a homemade salsa that can sit for a few days so the flavors marry.
You can prepare stuffed mushrooms, a holiday cheeseball, a crudité platter, the old classic veggie pizza or even cookies or cupcakes for dessert the day before. You can even elevate popcorn to make it something special for the party.
I also think it&rsquos important to choose things that don&rsquot have to stay hot to taste delicious. If you have one dish that is best served warm, you can use a slow cooker. But refrain from serving appetizers that should only be served warm, unless you want to be in the kitchen all night long. I like to actually enjoy the party and my guests, and take part in the festivities.
Remember that the rule of thumb for most cocktail parties is to serve something that can be picked up and eaten with one hand&mdashso the other is free for your cocktail, of course! While I don&rsquot mind breaking this rule for one dish, I do think it&rsquos important to have some bites that people can grab. Something like these pear and blue cheese crostini bites that have a ton of flavor but only require one hand to hold, are key!
6 - Consider food placement.
One more thing I like to do is place the snacks and food in different areas. Instead of setting everything on the center island where people will hover, I will place one dish at one end, a second at the other end, one dish in the dining room and a few bowls of mixed nuts or snack mix throughout the house.
7 - Use fancy cocktail napkins.
Now is the time to finally use those fancy cocktail napkins you&rsquove got stashed somewhere. My grandma taught me this and it&rsquos something I never forget about her parties. She was such an elegant hostess. She kept things very simple, offered two to three bites per party, and always had out beautiful cocktail napkins that just gave the atmosphere that extra touch of fancy. In fact, cocktail napkins were also her signature gift. She&rsquod bring them for other hostesses, and I still hoard a few packages that she gave me before she passed.
I also think this is a nice trick that gives the party your own personal touch. Keep it simple with white dishware, classic tumblers and wine glasses, but show off your personality with a bold cocktail napkin.
8 - Have a signature cocktail.
This might be my favorite part of ANY party. For as long as I can remember, whenever we&rsquod go to my aunt&rsquos house, she&rsquod have some sort of party cocktail for that day. There doesn&rsquot even have to be a special holiday&mdashshe just chooses a signature drink and makes a big batch. I think this is such a welcoming treat and really brings everyone together as they sip the same cocktail. It could be something as simple as a 2-ingredient Sangria, or treat them to White Christmas Margaritas in the photo above! This spiced apple cider pomegranate Moscow mule also sounds fantastic, as does the raspberry smash seen earlier.
I also like to have red and white wine (just one of each) on hand and one kind of beer, too. No need to go overboard or even offer a full bar. It just makes everything cluttered and crowded, and unless you have a bartender, it also can be messy.
9 - Make a killer playlist.
Lastly, have your music ready to go and curate the playlist that YOU love! For the holidays, I think a mix between old classics and new pop is best. I like to make a playlist of around 50 songs and set it to shuffle. You can find my favorites here.
Those are 9 of my best pointers for throwing an easy but elegant cocktail party. Do you have your own tried and true tips? I&rsquod love to hear them in the comments below!
Tastemakers Share Their Favorite Cocktail Recipes to Beat the Winter Blues
From warming whiskey cocktails to rum-laced libations with tropical flavors, these cocktail recipes are a must-have for your arsenal this season.
A warming winter cocktail is the perfect reward after a long week working from home, a busy day on the slopes, or preparing for and welcoming a loved one or two into your home. We've rounded up more than a dozen tastemaker cocktail recipes to help you beat the blues, warm up from the inside out, and make celebratory moments feel even more special this season. Whether you prefer a festive cocktail with bubbles, a warm beverage served in a mug, or an exotic libation that reminds you of a favorite tropical vacation, we have you covered. Just pull out your favorite fancy cocktail glasses, pick a playlist, lay out a few snazzy cocktail napkins, and get mixing!
"What is it about drinking a cocktail in a martini glass that makes us feel so glamorous&mdashlike Cary Grant and Grace Kelly?" Garten writes in her new cookbook, Modern Comfort Food.
While this cocktail recipe is perfect for a holiday gathering, it's just as ideal for sipping all winter long. Plus, we could all use the antioxidant boost from the pomegranates this time of year.
Get the recipe here.
Darlington is a wine and spirits expert, journalist, and author of seven books. His Royal Pimm's Cup recipe is featured in Booze and Vinyl: A Spirited Guide to Great Music and Mixed Drinks, a book about the best cocktail recipes to enjoy while you savor some of the best albums of the last 60 years.
"People probably think of the Pimm's Cup as a summer cocktail, but it is the ideal oyster pairing, and oysters are tastiest now when the ocean is at its coldest," says Darlington. "I like to play against the winter blues by mixing this vibrant Royal Pimm's Cup garnished with mint, cucumber, and citrus (also in season). A splash of dry sparkling wine makes it a 'royal' Pimm's Cup. It's a pick-me-up in a glass for cold, gray days."
André's Royal Pimm's Cup Recipe
3 ounces dry sparkling wine
Sprig of mint, for garnish
Combine Pimm's, cucumber, and orange in a high ball or Collins glass and gently muddle. Top with ice and sparkling wine. Garnish with a sprig of mint.
The Brooklyn-based tastemaker, author, and stylist jazzes up the classic old fashioned with seasonal citrus and a delightful honey-rosemary simple syrup that would make a thoughtful gift for your favorite cocktail connoisseurs.
Athena's Blood Orange Old Fashioned
For the Honey-Rosemary Simple Syrup:
For the cocktail:
1 ounce blood orange juice
2-3 dashes aromatic bitters
1 tablespoon Honey-Rosemary Simple Syrup
To make the simple syrup: Bring water, rosemary, and honey to a low boil and simmer for 5 minutes.
To make the cocktail: Place bourbon, blood orange juice, aromatic bitters, and simple syrup in a cocktail shaker, and shake to gently combine. Pour over ice cube into a classic whiskey glass.
Addison is the mastermind behind Assouline's award-winning cocktail book Cocktail Chameleon. The renowned designer, producer, and entertainer is an event expert, and his gorgeous cocktail recipes reflect his design prowess and hosting know-how.
"Should you come across some leftover rosé (or is that an oxymoron?), this is a clever way to carry summer forward into the colder months," writes Addison in Cocktail Chameleon. "Served warm, this spiced cocktail combines the wine with bourbon, orange juice, cranberries, and the wonderfully warming spices that keep winter at bay. Similar to mulled wine, where the mixture is warmed in a pot over the stove or in a slow cooker, you can simply set it to simmer on low and a few hours later enjoy a warming cup of Winter Rosé Sangria to take the chill off a cold winter&rsquos day."
5 cinnamon sticks and 5 orange wheels, for garnish
In the slow cooker, combine all ingredients (except for garnishes) and cook on high, stirring occasionally, for 2 hours. Transfer to a saucepan, and cook on low for 1 hour and stir more frequently. Lower heat to warm and hold until ready to serve. To serve, remove cinnamon sticks, vanilla beans, and cloves, then garnish each serving.
50 Summer Cocktails You'll Crave When the Temperature Creeps Above 80
If you've never enjoyed a Tom Collins on a sunny back patio, you haven't lived.
Ah, summer. 'Tis the season of easier living and fun in the sun, which means it's time to up your hosting game with a fresh batch of cocktail recipes. Whether guests prefer gin or rum, these simple, time-tested cocktails are guaranteed to please. Ahead, fifty seasonal cocktails that are easy to make, delicious, and guaranteed to put everyone in a summer state of mind.
Like drinking a slice of watermelon (plus moscato + rum)!
This is a summer freezer STAPLE.
Though the recipe was inspired by the wintry tale of Jack Frost, these slushie cocktails are giving us major mermaid summer vibes. They're made with lemonade, Blue Curacao, champagne, and vodka&mdashthe perfect ingredients for an irresistible siren song of a summer cocktail.
Pro tip: Chop up fresh watermelon and throw it in the freezer the night before you make the margs&mdashthey'll be perfectly slushy & ICE cold!
This cocktail combines our two favorite summer drinks in one pretty cup: Snow cones and margs.
This punch will be a star at your summer parties. An entire bottle of rosé? Yes please.
You'll want to drink these every summer night.
Give your Taco Tuesday party a unique, on-theme twist with these rainbow Jarritos cocktails.
These may look like your average post-workout green juice, but they are so. much. better. Mojito slushies are the perfect thirst-quencher at a summer soiree.
Watch the video: Cocktail Party - 40s Music. Relaxing Jazz Instrumental Dinner Party, Restaurant, Studying, Download