Updated: Aug 24, 2022
Excerpted from "The Infinite Feast: How to Host the Ones You Love—Recipes from the Big Easy . . . and Beyond" by Brian Theis, 2020 Click here for more on my popular cookbook!
"An occasion for cocktails should have a higher purpose. Drinks are designed to loosen things up but they shouldn’t be the beginning and end reason for a party. Think of why you’re partying. Is it: I want all my friends who don’t know each other yet, to meet? Or are you celebrating an important life milestone or a birthday or a holiday?
Illustration by Marco Marella for The Infinite Feast cookbook.
Consider how many people you will have and plan accordingly. Plan for each person to have 2 drinks per hour. Multiply number of guests by number of hours your party will last by 2 drinks each and you will have more than enough resources on hand (30 people x 3 hours x 2 drinks = 180). Sounds like a lot of drinks!
Think about your liquor choices and do the per-drink math accordingly. If you have a theme drink (always a great idea) assume it will be popular and “pour” your resources into that. You can also mix up a ton of a theme drink in advance and refrigerate. If it’s more of an open bar, use what you know about your crowd’s alcohol preferences to plan.
Have at least whiskey, gin, vodka, tequila on hand with club soda, tonic, and orange juice for mixers. Have soft drinks for non-drinkers. Prosecco is a very popular sparkling wine these days and lends itself well to mixing, such as in the always popular Aperol Spritz. Pro Tip: you can never have too much ice.
Don't pour too heavily or you might run out of a crowd favorite!
Serve food! This is an essential part of a great cocktail get-together.
Make sure you have a plan for who will bartend (sometimes setting it all out for the guests to do it even works) and who will tend the food table and bus empties. If you’re not hiring people to do that, deputize a guest, or four, to take turns watching over a few party tasks.
And, as I always say: decorate. It doesn’t have to be complicated or fancy, just enough to set a festive tone."
Always have plenty of bubbly on hand for special celebrations.
More party tips and tricks in "How to throw a proper 1950's-style cocktail party" right here.
Never serve minors.