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Throw A Cocktail Party and Wow Your Friends

 
Cocktail parties are making a comeback! You might remember seeing vintage photos of people dressed to the nines drinking mixed drinks in the formal living room and wondered why you can’t do that yourself. Aside from the fact almost no one has a formal living room these days, the good news is that you totally can do that! Here’s how.
 

Step 1 - Make A Guest List

Making a guest list sounds easy, but this isn’t your run of the mill backyard barbecue. You’ll want to invite a core group of friends who get along well.

 

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It also helps to have a mix of subject matter experts on a wide variety of subjects or a group of people who are all subject matter experts on the same topic. The point of this is that you will want the conversation to be lively and fast-moving but not abrasive. Bonus points if you can get everyone to dress up!
 

Step 2 - Cocktail Recipes And Stocking The Bar

Chances are every person you know doesn’t want to drink Bourbon neat unless you are in Kentucky, and even then most people like a good cocktail now and then. It is, after all, a cocktail party, so you will want to make a variety of cocktails from a few simple ingredients. Bourbon, bitters, vermouth, simple syrup, an orange, and cocktail cherries can get you quite a long way.

 

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Bourbon Barrel Foods makes both Woodford Reserve and Old Forester cocktail provisions, but Angostura bitters can be found anywhere and you may even have a bottle laying around that seems to multiply. The Jack Rudy Cocktail Co. makes some great cocktail cherries, as well.


You’ll also want to stock up on proper barware. A three piece shaker that can be used as both a mixing glass and a cocktail shaker is versatile for both shaken and stirred cocktails. Or if you only plan to make stirred cocktails you can use a glass and a Hawthorne strainer.


Glassware should include Martini or coupe glasses, tall glasses, and rocks glasses. Don’t forget to stock up on the ice. Pro Tip: Sonic Drive In Restaurant sells nugget ice by the bag!
 

Bourbon Stormy Cocktail

Fill a tall glass with ice. Pour in 1.5 ounces Bourbon. Top with Butchertown Soda Ginger Beer or another local ginger beer.

 

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Classic Manhattan Cocktail

1 ½ oz. Bourbon
¾ oz. sweet vermouth
2 dashes bitters
Cocktail cherries

Combine all ingredients in Boston shaker filled with ice and stir. Strain with a Hawthorne strainer into a chilled glass and add a cherry for garnish.
 
 

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Old Fashioned Cocktail

1 ½ oz. Bourbon
Bitters
Sugar Cubes
Orange slices
Cocktail Cherries
 
In the glass, muddle 1 sugar cube with an orange slice. Add a few dashes of bitters and Bourbon and stir. Drop in a few ice cubes and a cherry garnish with an orange peel. Garnishes are super simple and can go a long way toward making your cocktail seem a lot more fancy than it actually is.

 

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“The most versatile garnish option is probably an orange twist. Cut a piece of orange peel, getting as little of the white pith as possible. Squeeze it over the drink to expel the oils and then rub the peel along the rim of the glass. If you want to get creative, you can trim the twist into different shapes,” says The Garnish Blog’s Katie Stryjewski.

“For cocktails with a hint of spice, star anise or cinnamon sticks make beautiful garnishes. And for drinks with citrus, try fresh herbs like mint, rosemary, or thyme.”

 

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Step 3 - Snacks

A cheese board is probably the easiest and most amazing cocktail party snack to throw together. On a cheese board or nice wooden cutting board, combine several cheeses ranging in flavor profile from a hard and salty aged Beemster to a soft and creamy herbed goat cheese.

Add in some olives, pepperoncini, almonds, and cucumber rounds. Finish with crostini and crackers and you look like you’ve been doing this your whole life.
 

Am I missing any important tips for throwing an amazing cocktail party? Leave me a comment and let me know!
 

READ MORE ABOUT: bourbon, cocktails, cocktail party

By Maggie Kimberl

Maggie Kimberl

Maggie Kimberl is an internationally published spirits journalist who focuses on Bourbon. She considers herself to be "geographically blessed" to live in Louisville, Kentucky, the epicenter of Bourbonism. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram @LouGirl502.

 

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