How To Host A Cocktail Party

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 Host A Cocktail Party

A cocktail party is a fun way to entertain a crowd of friends & acquaintances that allows you time to mingle too.

When you invite people round for a cocktail party, the general assumption is that it’s for 2-3 hours, there’ll be nibbles but not a meal & if cocktails are not your thing & you only like beer, bring your own drink!

Clear rooms so that there is plenty of space for guests to stand or sit. Make sure there are a few chairs or sofas but don’t feel you need to provide seating for everyone. Standing is better for mingling.

How many canapés should I serve?

Allow 10 items per guests. Have bowls of nuts & small nibbles around the room at the beginning of the party. Start with cold canapés, which will also allow for stragglers, & have some warming in the oven whilst you are serving. Serve 3 or 4 types of canapé & then have a break before producing a few more. Engage the help of one of the guests to go round the room with a plateful. It’s great for ice-breaking & getting to know the other guests  – but with an excuse to move on.


Make up jugs of 3 different cocktails plus a non-alcoholic version. Cocktails such as Mojito, Cosmopolitan, Long Island Iced Tea & Moscow Mule work well with a Cranberry Cutie as the mocktail. Avoid cream-based cocktails as these are very rich if guests want more than one drink. A range of different coloured cocktails looks more interesting too.

Mulled wine is a great option in the winter months. Easy to make, it will sit happily on the hob throughout the party. It will also give a cosy, Christmassy aroma to the party!

[If you’d rather go for a wider range of more general drinks, ask the local off-licence if they will provide them on sale or return. Allow half a bottle of wine per guest if this is to be the main drink & also provide real ale, lager & soft drinks.]

If you’re short of glasses, hire them from a supermarket or off-licence when you get your drinks. Much nicer than plastic or paper ones!


Accessories are optional but can help give that finishing touch to a cocktail. There are plenty to choose from & for any theme (if you have one): straws, umbrellas, stirrers & party picks to name but a few.

Depending on the type of glasses used, you may also want to provide glass charms or markers to help guests identify their glass.

If you have time, decorate the rim of some of the glasses with sugar. To do this, cut a wedge of lime or lemon & rub it over the rim of a glass. Pour some sugar onto a plate or shallow bowl & dip the rim of the glass into it. Jazz it up with coloured sugar found in the home baking aisle.

The following cocktail recipes are for 1 person so multiply by about 6 (depending on jug size). If the jugs aren’t very big & you have quite a few guests coming, make up batches of cocktails, less the ice & garnish, & store in plastic drinks bottles in the fridge ready to refill the jugs. Don’t forget to label what is in each bottle!

1 lime cut into wedges
2 tsp sugar
10 mint leaves + a sprig to garnish
5 ice cubes
1 shot (25ml) white rum
soda water

Put the lime, sugar & mint in a highball glass & mash with the handle end of a wooden spoon to release the flavours. Add the ice & rum followed by the soda water to taste. Stir well & garnish with the mint sprig.


Long Island Iced Tea

10ml vodka
10ml tequila
10ml rum
10ml gin
10ml Cointreau
20ml sugar syrup
20ml lemon juice
handful of ice
Coca Cola
slice of lemon to decorate

Put all the ingredients except the Coca Cola & lemon slice in a shaker. Shake briefly to mix & pour into a highball glass. Top up with Coca Cola & balance the slice of lemon on the rim of the glass.



35ml vodka
10ml Cointreau
30ml cranberry juice
10ml lime juice
handful of ice
slice of orange or lime to garnish

Put all the ingredients except the garnish in a shaker & shake for 10 seconds. Strain into a martini glass & decorate the edge of the glass with the citrus slice.


Moscow Mule

45ml vodka
5ml lime juice
120ml ginger beer
handful of ice
slice of lime to garnish

Put the ice, vodka, lime juice & ginger beer in a highball glass & stir. Garnish with the slice of lime.


Cranberry Cutie

50ml cranberry juice
50ml apple juice
30ml lemonade
1 tsp honey
2 cubes of ice
maraschino cherry or lemon slice to garnish

Put the juices, lemonade & honey into a small jug & stir. Put the ice in a martini glass & pour the cocktail over. Garnish.

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