The Art of the Cocktail Party

If it’s been ages since you’ve hosted a cocktail party, you may want to start planning one soon.
Text by David C. Cleland | June 22, 2018 | Lifestyle

Oh, the humble cocktail party. Although the invention of the cocktail party has often been credited to our friends across the pond, the honor actually belongs to Mrs. Julius S. Walsh, Jr., who, in 1917 at her mansion in St. Louis, hosted what the local paper called, “positively the newest stunt in society.” Of course, this was not the kind of cocktail party we usually embrace, instead of the 5 o’clock rule we’re used to, Mrs. Walsh followed Jimmy Buffet’s philosophy and held her get-together at noon.
But timing wasn’t the only thing that was different for Mrs. Walsh and her 50 guests…the cocktail list was a who’s who of forgotten drinks: The Highball, The Bronx, Sazerac and Fizzes. After just an hour (I know, right?!) her guests were ushered out and the first cocktail party came to an end.
Soon after, the trend spread across the country…and gained momentum during Prohibition when people had little place else to drink with friends outside of the privacy of the their own homes.
Obviously, we’ve come a long way since those days — the drinks have surely changed and how we throw parties has evolved. Today, cocktail affairs can be anything from a formal gathering with crystal glasses and tuxedos to an apartment soiree with plastic cups and blasting iPods. Whatever the backdrop or theme, the goal remains intact: good company, great drinks.
Amped up to host your own cocktail party? Start with the guestlist…who should meet who and who gets along already? Don’t invite the same old crowd, mix it up. Always make sure to properly introduce everyone and help get the conversations going.
Once you know who’s coming, it’s time to decide what kind of party you want to have. Throwbacks are a nice option and serve as a fun time to play dress-up. In order to do it right, consider hiring a professional bartender. Not only will this help set the mood, it will also guarantee perfect cocktails.
For a more casual event, pick a few cocktails, making sure to select ones that don’t require last-minute ingredients, and serve alongside a large bowl of ice. Also, make sure to have something to eat or nibble on, and never make the drinks too strong or serve too many — after all, you want all your guests to get back home safely!