In France, widely acknowledged to be the home of many things chic and stylish, the equivalent to having a cocktail party is hosting ‘un apéro’ – when you invite your guests for drinks and snacks in those sunset hours at the end of the afternoon and pre evening dinner. It is understood, therefore, that dinner is not included, however (being France) equally it is expected that the catering and the drinks will be impressively delicious. A few crisps and peanuts don’t really meet such expectations, so if you want to make the most of hosting a wonderful cocktail party, here are a few ideas to help you succeed that will even impress French and Spanish visitors.
Make the most of the fun elements
Just as delicious cocktails come in a veritable rainbow of colours – for example, powder blue, sea green, cherry red and sparkling golden amber – so finger foods can be similarly playful. The Spanish notion of ‘tapas’ is a great way to go when it comes to deciding on cocktail party food. This approach to preparing a variety of appetizers means you can make a few larger dishes ahead and then carve them up into smaller servings. For example, a huge classic Spanish omelette or tortilla, filled with your choice of potatoes, onions, garlic or colourful peppers and then carved up when cold into bite-sized pieces can be served as bite-sized snacks to great acclaim. Homemade crudités with dips are also welcome and easy to prepare beforehand.
Presentation is key
Sometimes, how you serve as opposed to what you serve can make all the difference. For example, a few beautiful morsels of food served on a large platter look much more appetizing than a heap of finger foods on a smaller plate. Similarly, choosing quality champagne glasses will make your chosen bubbly or champagne-based cocktail taste even better – the weight of the glass and its reflective qualities (if you’re using candlelight, for example) are likely to be particularly appealing to your guests.
What to buy in
When buying in snacks forget the crisps and the peanuts (although breadsticks and cashew nuts are popular and handy) and opt instead for olives, both pitted and stuffed, and perhaps high quality cocktail sausages from a reputable source, which always go down well. Obviously unless you have a home distillery, brewery or vineyard, drinks also have to be bought in. Choose carefully here as even top-rated food can fail to mask a poor quality accompaniment when it comes to the drinks you offer. Limit the choice, therefore, and opt for making the most of what you’ve got – such as plenty of gin-based cocktails with a variety of soft drink mixers.
All in all, your cocktail party is a way of showing off what you can accomplish in terms of hospitality without you having to endure the stress of preparing a complicated meal for lots of people. So, get yourself organised beforehand and then just relax and enjoy your own party!