8 Food And Drink Mistakes To Avoid When Planning Your Next Cocktail Party
Cocktail parties bring people together in a fun, light, friendly event. But while these little get-togethers are more casual than sit-down dinners and other gatherings, they still require proper planning.
Most importantly, you should avoid these common cocktail party mistakes. By avoiding these blunders you have the foundation for a successful event.
Mistake #1: Serving Food that Requires a Fork, Spoon, or Other Forms of Silverware
Probably the most common mistake, and one that’s easy to overlook, is serving appetizers and snacks that require a spoon, fork, or other pieces of silverware. Basically, if it takes more than fingers to eat the food, your guests will have their hands full, forcing them to sit at tables to eat. By sitting at tables, people are less likely to mingle, and you will lose some of the social aspect that makes cocktail parties so enjoyable.
Silverware also takes up the hands, so people can’t greet each other with handshakes (or hugs, if they are so inclined), creating awkward moments all through the evening. Avoid this mistake by sticking with foods that can be eaten with fingers.
Mistake #2: Messy Foods and Sauces
Yes, we savor ribs slathered in barbecue sauce. We relish gooey caramel desserts. We love mushrooms, tofu, and scallions with a Szechuan peanut sauce. But these foods can be messy.
They may be perfect for certain sit-down parties, but this is a cocktail party. Messy or saucy foods are hard to eat and they force people to constantly use napkins to wipe their hands and faces. Even then, people will be left with smudges around their mouth and a sticky feeling on their fingers. Even worse, it will inevitably result in someone getting food on their clothes. (Most likely it will be a rich red sauce on a new white dress.)
Avoid heavy sauces and choose appetizers that are largely sauce free. Your guests will thank you, although the local dry cleaner may lose a bit of business.
Mistake #3: Serving Dense, Rich, Heavy Foods
Not only should your food be easy to eat and clean to the touch, it shouldn’t be too dense, thick or rich. Again, a cocktail party is not a sit-down dinner, people should want to mingle and socialize, but dense foods can make them feel weighed-down and lethargic.
That is why light seafoods are often better for cocktail parties than beef or pork. It’s also why light vegetables such as celery and broccoli are often better than, for example, potatoes. Think about a cucumber with chili lime sauce, citrus rosemary-marinated olives, or a simple fruit tray as opposed to flank steak skewers. Thai chicken meatballs, or deviled eggs are great options for cocktail parties.
Mistake #4: Serving Only High-Proof Liquors
We are all adults here. (If it’s a cocktail party, we are assuming it’s all or mostly adults.) Therefore, there is nothing wrong with serving liquors that are consumed neat, straight up, or on the rocks. A scotch on the rocks, an aged tequila neat, or a dry martini (which is basically all liquor) are all wonderful beverages, but some people need a cocktail that is a little lighter.
It would be a mistake to serve only high-proof liquors and not offer lighter libations. A selection of wine, beers, and options for other cocktails should be available to your guests as well. Even if it’s a liquor-themed party, like a bourbon tasting, there should be options that have a lower alcohol concentration for those that would like them.
Mistake #5: No Non-Alcohol Beverages Whatsoever
This is a natural extension of the point we made above: serve something without alcohol. Yes, you are hosting a cocktail party, and even the most sheltered shut-ins know that this means alcohol. But perhaps someone wants to attend your party for merely socializing, perhaps they want to see your home, visit with friends, and spend the evening with like minded individuals.
This person should not be left out, so a few non-alcoholic options should be offered. And not just water; offer something they can really enjoy. Non-alcoholic beers or custom-flavored lemonades are just a few examples of how you can make every person, even the non-drinkers, feel included in your party.
Message #6: Not Having a Bartender (If a Bartender Would Be Ideal)
Having a bartender serves a few different purposes. The first is obvious: an experienced mixologist at your party. Sure, you (or a friend) may have bartended your way through college, but four years of opening a beer bottle, which occurred two or three decades ago, doesn’t make you an expert. A bartender can not only mix a wide range of beverages, they can make recommendations or introduce party-goers to new concoctions.
A bartender can also serve as a type of alcohol manager. They can monitor pour levels, ensuring your liquor lasts through the evening, and they can watch for signs of overconsumption, which is an all-too-useful skill acquired by bartenders working everywhere, from high-end nightclubs to hole-in-the-wall dives.
Mistake #7: Large Drink Servings
Your guests are likely there to try a variety of different beers, wines, and liquors, but large servings can make it hard to enjoy everything without over consuming. Wines, for example, should be served in roughly 5-ounce portions, which is enough to ensure guests aren’t constantly returning for refills, but also don’t feel challenged to finish the glass.
Mistake #8: Placing Everything in One Corner
The final mistake involves both the food and the beverages: space them throughout the party area. If you cram all the food and drinks into one corner, people will crowd that area, making it difficult for everyone to get the beverage or snacks that they want.
At the very least, have the food on one side of the room and the drinks on another. Better yet, space the drinks throughout the area, with wines in one section, the liquor bar at another and a beer selection in a third. This will ensure plenty of room for your guests to mingle and reach the libation they want.
Are you asking, “Is there a cocktail party catering near me?” The answer is, “Yes!”
Contact Signature Catering and Events at (843) 682-3663 and let us plan the perfect cocktail party for your friends, family, or business associates. We will ensure that your party is foolproof.