Light classical or jazz music, witty conversation, sophisticated hors d' oeuvres and well-dressed guests... These elegant events combined the traditions of the Paris salon with a chance to socialize before the theater or dining out. They lost popularity during the '70s, '80s and '90s, since these periods were not so interested in elegance and grace, but have been making a comeback over the past few years. Cocktail parties - complete with classic martinis - are regaining popularity.
Cocktail party food is designed to be eaten with fingers or forks, with absolutely no other cutlery required. For this reason, the success of a cocktail party menu relies more on the presentation of the food than on the item selection. Instead of a full steak dinner, guests are provided with mini kebobs of steak and grilled vegetables. Rather than broiled Pacific salmon, there is sushi.
To satisfy even the hungriest guest, heartier hors d' oeuvres such as pork or shrimp dim sum are a welcome addition to the menu. The variety and quantity of food is particularly important. For a party lasting 2 hours, plan on at least 9 food pieces per person. For every 20 guests attending, have at least 8 different types of hors d' oeuvre available. Regardless of season or temperature, hot and cold food selections should be balanced equally.
Plan on serving most hors d' oeuvres from trays presented by staff; shrimp especially. This helps to ensure even distribution of food, and adds elegance to your party, making everyone feel like a V.I.P. Salads & desserts should be served from stations, as they are generally more customized to a guest's preference.
Guest comfort is crucial, and can be assisted with a supply of cocktail tables. These are approximately four feet tall and are perfect for small plates, drinks and ashtrays. Scatter these about your party area so that your guests need not stand forever around the bar or hold their plate for the entire night.
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