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Cocktail party 101

Love hosting a party but the logistics bogs you down? Fret not, we have got expert tips from Neha Manekia and Joshua D’souza of Silverspoon Gourmet to help you plan in style

“Plan ahead – budget, guest list, food, drinks, ice, etc.,” recommends Neha. Start with setting a budget – this really helps with deciding other factors. Keep your budget in mind, the reason for hosting this party as well as space constraints of your home while deciding the guest list. Aim to start your party around 7pm and choose a weekend. It gives you the day to prepare for it and your guests won’t be tired from work when they arrive.     

Liquid Diet
When it comes to alcohol, Neha suggests keeping your guest tastes in mind. “If you are hosting an unknown crowd, then have the basic spirits – gin, vodka, whisky, malt, red and white wine and beer.”  If budget constraints don’t allow for such a varied selection, Neha suggests stocking vodka, wine and beer. 

Shake things up
Don’t forget to have mixers on hand as well. “Soda and tonic water are staples. Keep a few soft drinks and juices, typically Coke, Sprite, orange juice and cranberry juice.” Other essentials to stock up on include garnishes for drinks. “Anything citrus. Lemon and /or orange wedges and rinds, and an aerator for wine - it makes a huge difference to the heavier wines especially in the hot weather we suffer.” 

Not everyone may want to drink alcohol, so it’s a good idea to keep the ingredients for ‘mocktails’ on hand. Chef Joshua suggests a few easy recipes for non-alcoholic drinks. “Take 4 parts soda, 1 part tonic, a splash of cranberry juice and few drops of Angostura bitters and mix them together. Virgin mojito is always a crowd pleaser - I like to add a twist to it by adding a fresh fruit juice like orange or watermelon. You can also try coconut water with a teaspoon of rose water and garnished with pomegranate.”

“Bar kits aren't super essential unless you intend on doing mixology,” says Neha. If you don’t have a bar at home, designate an area to set up one. A good idea is to set up a simple table in close proximity to the kitchen. If you happen to have wall shelves of a bookcase nearby, empty out a little space for glassware, ice buckets and other essentials. This will save you multiple trips to the kitchen.

Serve in style
“There's no end to glassware,” says Neha. “If you're on a budget or have limited storage space, have a basic all-purpose wine glass with a long stem. If you can, then nothing like having a balloon for red wine. Have old fashioned glasses for whisky drinkers – heavy crystal make for the perfect indulgence – and tall glasses for the other drinkers.” Don’t forget to keep napkins and toothpicks handy.

As for food, you needn’t serve a main course but prepare enough appetizers to sufficiently satiate your guests between drinks. Chef Joshua’s favourite easy finger foods include a hung yoghurt dip with crudités, lamb or veggies on blini (or crostini) along with a grilled cheese variant. “Invest in a single food warmer with partitions,” he suggests.

Recipe
Yogurt Dip

Ingredients: 
-        800 GM yoghurt, hung for 2 hours
-        Rock salt
-        Black pepper
-        Finely chopped green chilli (optional)
-        Finely chopped dill

Mix all the ingredients together. Serve with crudités (veg sticks) of carrot cucumber and bell pepper.

After all the planning and work remember to be flexible because even the best laid plans can go awry. Don’t spend the entire party running around to co-ordinate things. “Delegate where ever possible to a house staff or to close friends. Don't end up doing all the work,” suggests Neha. Your guests will be comfortable if you are. So let your hair down and have fun.

THUMBNAIL VIEW

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