Cocktails have seen something of renaissance in recent years, and a cocktail party is one option for entertaining in the early part of the evening. If you want to indulge in the delights of dressing up, a cocktail party provides the perfect excuse for introducing a Twenties or Thirties theme, with the women dressed as flappers and the men in black tie or wearing striped blazers.

Carry the theme through with jazz, swing and ragtime music taped as background for the party. Food should be easy to eat with the fingers and there should be plenty of it to quell the effect of strong cocktails. On the subject of drink, make sure there are plenty of alcohol-free alternatives for those who are driving and for quenching raging thirsts before embarking on a cocktail-sampling session.

Cocktail style

The focal point of a cocktail party is the bar. Although the kitchen is an ideal location for this, it is more fun to locate your bar in the main reception room. Here are a few pointers to bear in mind when hosting a cocktail party.

1) Make sure you have several cocktail shakers. Have a large jug and tall mixing stick for making thirst-quenching cocktails.

2) Lay out different shapes and sizes of glasses on separate trays ready for different strengths of mixes. Offer mineral water, fruit juices and non-alcoholic alternatives on a separate table.

3) Place large bowls of snacks around the room, and make sure there are lots of canap├ęs, or very small sandwiches, and finger food such as mini quiches and rolls pate.

If you are intending to give a morning cocktail party from which your guests may be going on somewhere for lunch or shopping, then your cocktails should be light in flavour and not too alcoholic. Champagne has been a perennial favourite as the ideal morning drink, whether it be served b itself or as part of a delicious concoction.

Essential for your cocktail is ice. If you entertaining on any scale at all then you will have to order ice from a local delivery service. If you are lucky enough to possess a large deep refrigerator then you will be able to store home-made ice in it. Always make sure that you have a good stock of glasses available and that you have at least one person, depending on the size of your party, either to be offering your guests replenishment of their cocktails, clearing away and washing used glasses or serving some form of light refreshment.

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