The last of the glasses have been washed, the platters have been put away, and our second annual cocktail shindig is behind us. Though we’ve got a fridge full of leftover food and booze and I’m still nursing aching muscles, I think Mike and I both feel that the party was a big success. We had a great time this year, and hopefully our guests did, too.
Like last year, we started planning for the party a few months ahead of time, with a long string of email conversation, notes and charts. We looked back at what we did last year, what worked well and what didn’t, and we tried to make adjustments to our game plan as needed. The weeks leading up to up to the party were particularly hectic because of our work commitments, so the pre-planning we did was extremely helpful, and while I did find myself getting a bit overwhelmed as party day drew closer, in the end I was able to laugh off the things that went wrong – and you know there’s always something.
When planning out my menu, I had a few considerations: I wanted things that people could easily eat while balancing a drink in their other hand, I wanted to have things available for meat eaters and non-meat eaters, I wanted to plan dishes where I could do as much as possible ahead of time, and I didn’t want to rely too heavily on the stovetop or oven (last year, our oven died the morning of the party, and 10 lbs. of rye whiskey marinated chicken wings went uneaten).
We broke down our shopping, purchasing most of the pantry items and other non-perishables a week or so in advance, and bringing home fresh food items on Thursday evening. Mike and I both took Friday off work so we could prep for the party and handle any last minute things that came up, and we had arranged to have a FreshDirect order delivered that day with wine and the remainder of what we needed food-wise. When our order arrived on Friday, an entire box was missing (including all of the wine we ordered) – it just didn’t get loaded onto the truck at the warehouse, and there was no way they could get the missing items to us before Sunday.
If I had not done so much of the food prep already, I would have completely panicked, but as it turned out, most of my dishes were ready to go, and we were able to get the rest of what we needed in the neighborhood. In the end, we had plenty of food – probably too much. In fact, there were a few things I had ready to go that I didn’t even serve (figs with Blu di Capra; my spicy tuna tartare), so I’ll have some fun this week trying to think of creative ways to use up our leftover ingredients. Here’s what we did serve:
Cocktail Shindig 2.0 – The Menu
white bean and sun-dried tomato dip
Green Goddess dip (I used a mixture of wild baby arugula and fresh basil leaves in place of the watercress)
Prosciutto San Daniele
Molinari and Sons Toscano Dry Salame
goat cheese bites with herbs and lemon
deviled eggs – plain and with smoked trout
wild mushrooms in puff pastry
chicken and red pepper sausage in puff pastry
shredded duck breast in Hoisin barbecue sauce on mini brioche rolls
caramelized onion dip with potato chips
Mike’s working on blogging the drinks end of things, so keep an eye on A Dash of Bitters for his wrap-up.
(More photos are here.)