Throw a Party--and Look Like a Pro While Doing It

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Entertaining ideas for the party-planning faint of heart

Clearly, we were on our own. So we experimented: We tried out more than a hundred hors d'oeuvre recipes, discarding most of them and fine-tuning the rest. We tinkered with the recipes for classic cocktails and invented our own. We endlessly brainstormed creative ways to get guests mingling. And we road-tested everything, throwing parties of all sorts and sizes. We would spend the next morning snacking on leftover crab dip and making loads of notes about what had worked and what hadn't. And our own parties weren’t the only ones we dissected. Every invitation we received was an opportunity to pick up hostessing hints or hors d'oeuvre ideas. At our friend Diane’s annual Christmas party, we noted that she put the bar and the buffet table in separate rooms—a great way to get guests to spread over the entire house instead of crowding into one area. At friends James and Trish's wedding reception, Anne tasted—and fell in love with—gougères, a classic French cheese hors d’oeuvre, and we ended up developing a version of it ourselves.

The result of all our efforts?  Cocktail Parties Straight Up! Easy Hors D’oeuvres, Delicious Drinks, and Inspired Ideas for Entertaining with Style captures our experiences and provides straightforward answers to the questions we ourselves asked in our early party-throwing years. This is the no-nonsense advice you would give your sister or best friend if she asked you for hostessing how-tos. You'd share all your secrets and shortcuts, dig out your foolproof recipes. You'd give her detailed practical advice, not vague suggestions. You would help her head off mishaps that you had suffered through already. (Remember that party when you ran out of ice after only an hour? Or the time you underestimated how much glassware you needed and your guests had to drink cocktails out of coffee mugs?) Cocktail Parties Straight Up! is like having a trusted, tell-it-like-it-is sister by your side. Or, as it happens, two sisters.


Sample Menus

THE PARTY: Any Excuse to Celebrate!

The Menu:
Beef Tenderloin and Pearl Onion Skewers
Wild Mushroom Tartlets
Smoked Trout Spread
Chilled Asparagus Spears with Lemon Dipping Sauce
Lemon-Glazed Pecans

The Signature Cocktail:
Champagne Cocktails—Nelson’s Blood and French 75

THE PARTY: The Make-Your-Own-Martini Party

The Menu:
Pork Tenderloin Sandwiches Two Ways
Seared Tuna and Cucumber Brochettes
Sun-dried Tomato and Ricotta Torte Trio
Fennel-Spiced Cauliflower Florets
Spiced Bar Nuts

The Signature Cocktails:
Choose from among:
Pear-tini
Bourbon-tini
Lemon-tini
Maui-tini

THE PARTY: He Said, She Said: A Soiree Where the Sexes Square Off

The Menu:
Bite-Size Crab Cakes with Lemon Caper Mayo
Chicken and Red Onion in Phyllo Cups
Top-Your-Own New Potatoes
Fresh Tomato Bruschetta
Wasabi-Crusted Peas

The Signature Cocktails:
The Archie and The Edith

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