happy hours 

The cocktail party flourished in the 20s and 30s, but then suffered a decline for about 40 years.

Today, cocktails are very much the drinks of the fashionable youth, and cocktail parties are back!

“Shaken or stirred it’s Cocktails, Cocktails, Cocktails… Dahhhhhlings” 

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Remember Mike Leigh’s 1977 “Abigail’s Party “ the ultimate party horror?

Seventies decor, Alison Steadman played Beverly in a pink chiffon frock and blue eye shadow, trays of cheese and pineapple on sticks, and Demis Roussos singing in the background. 


As I previously said, my own “Bete Noire” is an invitation to a cocktail party.

With a limited taste for alcohol, no memory for names, and little talent for small talk, cocktail party invitations are seldom tempting. But what would happen if I decided not to accept, and the following week someone tells me what a great party I missed? I’d be gutted!

So, I put on my “glad rags “and off I go.

Over the years, as my job demanded, I gained experience in blowing kisses in the air and moving, without sounding rude, from the boring person I’m stuck with, to a familiar face across the room.

Here are my 12 tips to enjoy a great Cocktail Party.

the drinks

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my beautiful Goddaughter

1.  A proper Cocktail barman is not essential, but if you can stretch the budget, the sheer theatricality of his performance will add pizzazz and glamour to the party.

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Hendricks and tonic, with a slice of cucumber of course

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8. The alternative to Champagne is a good quality sparkling wine like Prosecco, but do mix it with something fruity. I particularly like a Bellini cocktail –Prosecco and peach juice. France produces a large quantité of sparkling wines called Crémant, Cava in Spain, and Cap Classique in South Africa when you have plenty of glasses to fill.


9. Make the first drink strong. Later, the guests won’t notice if the drinks are less alcoholic


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2. If you wish to spice up the party, the pinkbutlers.com will provide staff wearing very little while remaining classy…well sort of!

3. If you can’t afford professional help, enlist some of your teenage friends and family to serve food and clear away glasses. You’ll be surprised how good they turn out to be, and they’ll enjoy it.

4. Tequila and Gin are the cool spirits right now, and rumour is that Pina Colada is this season’s answer to Negroni. But this year’s No.1 hottest cocktail is Aperol Spritz, or if you are already bored with Aperol,
it’s darker cousin Campari is very tasty, mixed with Prosecco.

goes down a treat!

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5. Kir Royale, a classic aperitif, is also making its way back to cocktail lists

6. If you are serving Champagne, don’t just crack a few bottles, serve Magnums. It costs the same and looks much more opulent.

7. Contrary to public opinion, and many will disagree, Champagne is best served at room temperature rather than chilled.

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ready mixed and ready to enjoy

10. Don’t ignore the non alcoholic drinkers – the one designated to drive home. Think of attractive looking, but also tasting  “Mocktail” that a non drinker can enjoy without being constantly asked “wouldn’t you prefer something stronger?”

11. Some guests might ask for water. Clear water jugs look more attractive than bottles if you add “pretty as a picture” ice cubes. Fill compartments of your ice trays with flowers- rose petals, violets, pansies, or sprigs of herbs – basil, rosemary, mint…before adding water and freezing. Look out for organic farms which sell trays of edible flowers such as maddocksfarmorgnaics.co.uk

12. Stop serving drinks 1/2 hour before you want the party to end. Even hardened party animals will get the message…Hopefully!