How To Throw A Fabulous Cocktail Party

I love cocktail parties, whether going to one or giving one. I think entertaining is an art. Hosting people at your home is a fabulous way to spend time with your friends and get to know new people. I never let a cocktail party seem thrown together. It's all about the details!

First I settle on a theme. Now when I say theme I don't mean like a kids birthday party (Pirates!), I mean a more subtle theme. This time I thought of "An Evening By The Pool". I even started to think of songs that I would play at the party, such as Little Jimmy Scotts "An Evening In Paradise". I tried to carry everything through thinking of this theme.

No need to go crazy serving a million things. I chose three drinks I think cover the men, women, and non drinkers. This time I chose Mt. Gay and Tonics, Mojitos with fresh mint, Jack and Gingers (with fresh ginger), and Club soda with lime. We cut up limes and lemons and had all the garnishes ready to go.

We set up the bar outside so that Hubby would fix the first drink, and the guests would usually make theirs after that. Of course hubby's Mojitos were so fabulous we had to make him continue making them all night!

Hubbys Fabulous Mojito Recipe:

1/2 Lime
Club soda
Bacardi light rum

Quarter the limes. Wash mint and take leaves off stems. Take a martini shaker and squeeze two lime quarters and six-eight mint leaves. Add two shots of light rum, two teaspoons of sugar and fill martini shaker three quarters full with ice. Put the lid on and shake the heck out of it, therefore muddling the mint and dissolving the sugar. Pour contents into a tall glass. Add club soda and stir. Fabulous!

We set up the back area (after weeding, sweeping, hosing down and de-cobwebbing), in a comfortable seating for conversation and set the mood with candles everywhere. I used table cloths outside that normally go inside the house because unless you're doing a BBQ, those bright outdoor table cloths seem a little tacky for cocktails.

The hors de oeuvres were simple but had style.

Asparagus with garlic herb spread wrapped in prosciutto: (blanch asaparagus, let it cool, cut off the ends. Spread garlic spread on prosciutto and wrap!) This was courtesy of Miss Rachel Ray.

Seafood Gazpacho Shooters With Shrimp:


1 garlic clove, chopped
1/2 yellow bell pepper, cut into pieces
1/2 red bell pepper, cut into pieces
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup loosely packed fresh basil
1/2 English cucumber, cut into pieces
1/2 small sweet onion cut into pieces
1 tablespoon seafood seasoning (old bay)

3 Yellow tomatoes seeded and cut into pieces
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

Large shrimp, peeled and deveined

Combine first eight ingredients in a food processor; pulse until finely chopped. Transfer to large bowl. Add tomatoes to food processor, and process until smooth. Stir tomatoes into veggie mixture. Stir in lime juice and chill before serving. We sauteed shrimp in olive oil and salt and pepper to dangle outside of the glass.

And sliced baguette with three different toppings:

Stilton Blue Cheese and fig jam

Herb Goat Cheese and olive tapenade

Mushroom Brie with peppers

They were so good! (I didn't toast the baguette but it was bought par baked.)

The Guest List is important too. best to keep it under 16 people total unless you want to be running around. I pre set most everything. Who you invite is essential to great conversation and the way the party flows. You need a few great story tellers and big personalities, some arty types, a few intellectual bookish people etc. Our party had a famous actress, musician, a producer, a director, a real estate agent, a contractor, a sales rep, an agent, and a few others. Granted, I live in LA so it's hard NOT to have an industry party, but it was a diverse group of personalities and cultures.
and last and most important the music. I created a play list on my mac and added it to my ipod. Here was the song list.

An Evening In Paradise - Little Jimmy Scott
Black Coffee- Peggy Lee
Golden- Jill Scott
Breezin'- George Benson
Golden Time of Day- Maze featuring Frankie Beverly
Yes Sir That's My Baby- Milt Jackson
I've Got The World On A String- Frank Sinatra
Masquerade- George benson
Back In Stride- Maze featuring Frankie Beverly
Aint No Stoppin Us Now- Luther vandross
Cosmic Girl- Jameriqui
Touch The Sky- kanye West
Get Right- Jlo

A great evening! Got any cocktail party tips? Share!


Far From Perfect said...

Good Morning-thanks for the Mojito"how to do". I struggled with taking too much time making them.

You are the only West Coast Blogger I've hooked onto... My D1 just moved to San Diego area. Not handling this well.Oh well

Your cocktail party looks lovely.

Etiquettely Correct said...

Your party sounds wonderful! When you are inviting people, do you plan for a % to not be able to attend? So for example, if keeping it under 16, do you invite 20 and plan that 4 will not be able to come? Sorry - random question, but its something I think about.

Mrs.Preppy said...

A fun idea for desserts is to buy all varieties of ice cream sandwiches (different sizes, flavors, price ranges) then fill a stainless steel bowl with ice and top with the ice cream sandwiches.

Always Organizing said...

You are a woman after my own heart! I love to throw a cocktail party :) I especially love what you said about the "theme". I love when you can sense a theme, but it is not totally obvious and in your face. Great post!

ps. Thanks for posting your hubby's mojito recipe. I have only had them out, now I'm going to try it at home. You two are a gorgeous couple!

Traci Anne said...

Oh my gosh, that sounds like so much fun, and I can't wait to try the recipes! I can't wait until K and I move out of NY and out of our teeny apartment so we can have parties!

Self Confessed Lamp Tramp said...

Wow, what a fabulous post. Everything looks perfect, drinks & hors de oeuvres look wonderful. It's going to take me a while to catch up reading about you and your exciting adventures. You are tireless and have such a busy life!
Love the new picture of Landon, what fun watching him grew up!

Sweet Pea Chef said...

I love your ideas. We try to do a theme tied together loosely by a sushi inspired party or Tapas, etc. I like to think about the colors of the food so the spread not only tastes fabulous, but looks fabulous on their plates. Lighting is also big for set the mood.

Your food and drink sound fabulous, as usual!

Tres Poshe Preppy said...

What a lovely evening. Honestly, you really have me missing the poolside lifestyle!!! Everything looks great!

When I was married, I entertained A LOT and loved it too. So fun. Thanks for sharing.

L.A. Prep said...

What fun - Mt. Gay & Tonic, I am there! You need a marketing director in the mix, right? Everything sounds perfect, you make it seem easy! By the way, I am headed to a small town in Massachusetts on Buzzard's Bay, it's across from Martha's Vineyard - it is where my husband grew up. Happy Summer, as they say back there!

Jill@Who Could Ask for Anything More said...

Girlfriend, you are the hostess with the mostess. Looks like so much fun. I'll throw on my orange sundress and be right over.

Europafox said...

What a brilliant post! Sounds like you have hostessing down to a fine art!

Brie said...

GREAT party!! I am trying all this... and you like Touch the Sky too! One of my favorites... I knew I liked you :)

Lauren said...

Your cocktail party looks like fun! I wish I lived in CA so I could beg you for an invite to your next party. :)

Enjoy your week!

Beth G. said...

Soooo, I'm thinking I can get a flight to CA tomorrow...that will give you enough time to prep for another cocktail party for me to attend eh? Your party sounds fabulous! I LOVE to give dinner parties and cocktail parties too. You are so right entertaining is an art and making sure your friends and/or family have a blast is the best!

Happy 4th!

Mom x 2 said...

You had me a 'blue cheese.' :D

That was mean to drop "famous actress" and not spill the beans! ;-)

Have a lovely 4th!

Hollie said...

looks like fun!

Belle in Bloom said...

I would LOVE to come to one of your cocktail parties. Too fun. And the "Seafood Gazpacho Shooters With Shrimp" look amazing. I must try those. Thanks for sharing!

Buford Betty said...

That all looks so delish!!

Linney Shvede said...

great music too! it's not a party without a little Luther!

The 5 Bickies said...

Your recipes and party tips are great! I love the Old Bay in the Gazpacho...will definitely try it!

magnolia mama said...

Please invite me next time :-)

Happy Homemaker said...

What a great party!! And what a gorgeous couple! I laughed when you said you always need a few good storytellers... that's always my husband's specialty.

I wish we lived closer!!