Few things can top a well thought out cocktail party. From the drinks on offer, to the complimentary finger food and refined playlist, all these elements go hand-in-hand when it comes to putting on a rendezvous worth remembering.
Which is why we're letting you in on our top tips for hosting a sophisticated soirée like no other...
Offer a mix of beverages (non-alc included)
First things first, get the booze in. It's always a better idea to overestimate how much you're going to need, rather than find yourself cleaned out before things have even started getting fun. That doesn't mean rush to your local bargain booze and stockpile drinks, it just means make sure you have a good variety to keep your guests (and more importantly, you) happy.
As a general rule of thumb, try sticking with a minimum of three spirits.
You could even try serving up a batched cocktail – the kind you're able to make ahead earlier in the day, and serve as and when your guests arrive. This way, you'll save yourself the stress of making cocktails there and then. Clever, huh?
Don't forget the mindful drinkers! Yep, make sure you've got non-alcoholic options too. Because let's face it, the sign of a good cocktail party is measured by how much care's gone into what's on offer. Now, we're not saying go overboard with 18 different types of non-alcoholic drinks, we're just saying be prepared with a few options (that aren't just lime and soda) to accommodate everyone's preferences.
C'mon, haven't you heard about the rise of sober-curious?
When it comes to mixers, it's totally up to preference (and whether you're a lover of the more the premium things in life or don't mind a good old budget copycat). But of course, stretching your budget for better-tasting mixers really does make a difference.
Craig Harper, On-Trade Manager at Fever-Tree, says "The basics for me are a quality tonic, ginger ale, and a soda. The trick to really impress your guests is to elevate those basics with flavour twists and making sure they are top quality."
"A bad mixer can ruin a great spirit, but a quality mixer will elevate something great into something even better."
Get the garnishes in
Sure, you might not be one for edible glitter, fancy flowers or frozen strawbs, but that's not to say your guests won't appreciate them. Also, what's a cocktail party without a little flair?
Replenish your fruit basket, stock up on herbs and get yourself some cocktail stirrers, then get to work on preparing little garnishes that can easily be attached to your cocktails.
Not sold? Well then, don't need to take it from us, take it from Francesco Betti, Assistant General Bar Manager and Mixologist at Bow Bar in North West London. He says it's all about interactive garnishes right now, because they help balance a drinks flavours while adding a little *pizazz* too.
Mark the moment with a signature cocktail
A great way of making your party stand out from the rest is by marking the moment with a signature cocktail. This could be anything from a simple gin and tonic, to a fancy martini.
Stock up on nibbles
You can't possibly throw a successful shindig without a half-decent selection of food. A cheese or charcuterie board is always a great and aesthetic option, as is a table buckling under the weight of mountains and mountains of party food. It just depends on the sort of vibe you're going for, as well as the drinks you're serving up.
Ice, ice, ice
It goes without saying, make sure you have enough ice. It's during times like this when ice machines really prove their purpose. Nowadays, you can pick up an ice machine that makes approx. nine ice cubes in less than 6 minutes – it's practically magic!
But if you really feel like taking things up a gear, try your hand at making decorative ice cubes, the type that double up as garnishes as well as ice. They'll leave you with great-looking cocktails without the leftover lime skins and orange zest mess.
Consider a theme
No – we're not asking you to draw up invites requesting everyone comes as something beginning with the first letter of their name (although, we're kind of into it). We're simply asking you to picture the night as whole.
Imagining minimalist chic? A rainbow tablescape? What about a speakeasy vibe? Once you settle on a general theme, you'll be about to work from there.
Set the mood
In other words, the all-important playlist. There's only one way to set the atmosphere off on a high, and that's with a smashing song selection.
Get the music going as early as you can, that way you'll avoid that awkward beginning when everyone's not quite sure what to say when they first walk in. But with something to jam to, everyone will instantly feel more as ease.
Keep it simple
Don’t overdo it – you’ll burnout before the night’s even begun otherwise. Consider delegating tasks to the rest of your pals. Sam, you’re on the apps. Anne, do your thing with garnishes. And Joe, jump on music.
The best nights are the most spontaneous ones, so as much as we'd recommend pre-planning the most important aspects of the party (staple drinks and food, obvs) make sure to let loose and enjoy it too.