Cocktail parties are regaining in popularity! It's a great way to host a group of people from business associates to neighbors. A typical cocktail party lasts about 2 hours and is more casual and possibly less intimidating than a dinner party for both guests and host.
You can get the word out about your cocktail party in a number of ways. E-mail invites work well so the person you are inviting can just reply back to RSVP. Formal invitations can be sent too. Make sure to mention the date, time (beginning and end), location (with directions if needed), call back number and/or e-mail, dress code & if you would like them to bring anything.
Stock your Bar:
Plan ahead the type of drinks you will be serving. If you are serving wine and/or champagne only, then have 1 bottle per 2 guests for a 2 hour party. Other popular cocktails to serve are Manhattans (Bourbon), Martini (Gin), Vodka & Tonic, Whiskey Sours, and Screwdrivers (Vodka). It's also good to have beer on hand for those who do not like hard alcohol. Bottled water is also a nice option to have for your guests.
Garnishes: Olives, Bitters, Lemons and Limes, Tabasco, Horseradish, Worcestershire Sauce and Grenadine.
Mixers: Orange Juice, Soda, Tonic, Ginger Ale, Cola and Tomato Juice. Don't forget LOTS of ice!
Glasses: Wine Glasses, Straight-Sided Glasses for tall drinks, Tumblers for spirits and juices; and Martini Glasses. Wine Charms to identify glasses are a great thing to have on hand if you will have several people drinking wine.
Tools: Ice Bucket, Ice Scoop, Strainer, Long Handled Bar Spoon, Cutting Board, Paring Knife, Jigger, Corkscrew, Bottle Opener, Cocktail Shaker and Lemon Zester.
It's a good idea to serve finger foods at a cocktail party. It's up to you to decide how fancy you want the foods. Hors d'oeuvre ideas could be crackers with a spread, meatballs and cocktail wienies, tarts, cheese ball, bruschetta, stuffed mushrooms, etc. There are great resources online for appetizer recipes. For bite-sized foods, plan about 6 bites per person. It's always better to have too much food than not enough.
Are you interested in having a cocktail party, but all the preparation and planning too much for you? Check with your local caterers. There are some who specialize in bartending and will stock and serve drinks so you can spend more time mingling. If you are attending a cocktail party and looking for a hostess gift, consider a wine gift basket as a perfect complement to the party theme.