How to Avoid Throwing a Lousy Holiday Cocktail Party
There are a myriad of party fouls that can ruin even the best planned event. Find out how to spot and avoid them.
These days, throwing a holiday cocktail party takes real courage.
Thanks to the rebirth of the cocktail, even at small get togethers many guests now expect professional-grade drinks. The endless images of over-the-top concoctions on social media also hasn’t helped matters. The unfortunate result of all of this? Bad holiday parties. But it doesn’t have to be this way and in fact it shouldn’t be. Parties should be fun.
Here are our tips for combatting the worst modern party fouls.
You can either make drinks that please your friends or you can make drinks that please your online friends. Remember, a successful party is when guests enjoy their drinks and don’t just take photos of them.
We suggest splitting the difference and using classic garnishes, like twists, high-end brandied cherries or gourmet olives, which you can prepare while you’re waiting for your first guests to arrive and look impressive in photos.
The best hosts understand the power of a drink that has just a few ingredients, while the worst hosts think they’re going to make the most complicated recipes in their repertoire for their thirsty guests.
Why? Even if you practice for weeks and can make these drinks in your sleep, try making them when the doorbell is ringing every five minutes and you have to run back and forth across your home. And that’s not to mention taking coats, making small talk and introductions, refilling the potato chip bowl and looking for a mop for that inevitable spill. (Also, do you really want to spend the days leading up to your party trying to buy all of the obscure ingredients you need for your signature 12-ingredient cocktail?)
Plus, some of the world’s best cocktails have just two or three ingredients. (Ever hear of a Martini?) There’s a reason why they have been popular for decades and decades.
Your friend likes the sound of the drink you’re making but wonders if it can be made with mezcal instead of gin? No. No it can’t. They follow that up by asking what can you make them instead? So, as you fix five other drinks, you ask your friend what they like. They then produce a list of ingredients and spirits so incongruous that even if you were a master bartender you’d throw in the towel right then and there and walk away mid-shift to get a different job. But since it’s your party you can’t leave…
That’s why you offer your guests a set of a few drinks. This is, after all, a holiday party and not a professional bar.
Even if you try to anticipate your guests every need, you can be undone by the smallest detail that you didn’t anticipate, like making sure you have all the ingredients for your cocktails or creating a menu with drinks that will complement each other and make sense for the occasion. Just because you enjoys a super spicy Bloody Mary rift anytime of the day, will your friends want one at 9 PM?
Another problematic area for hosts is ice. Unless you have an ice machine at home, how do you prepare for a holiday crowd? You could buy a bag of ice at the supermarket. But said bag of ice is, in reality, just one giant piece of ice. It will need to be dropped over and over again to produce anything small enough to fit into a shaker or mixing glass. Instead, we suggest that you buy some good ice trays that produce jumbo cubes. A few days before you party, make a few big batches and keep the cubes in a container in your freezer. (A number of bars, which don’t have room for fancy ice machines, do this every night.)
What’s the difference between a bad night and the party of the decade? Luck and also the right drink recipes. So, check out Plymouth Gin’s super handy Cocktail Calculator, which helps you figure out an appropriate drinks menu, generates a shopping list and even creates social media posts. So, start inviting your friends over now!