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Classy Cocktail Party Ideas for Any Budget

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Pick your poison: a bubble bar can use any sparkling wine

What’s a cocktail without a garnish? Arias and Corney are both fans of garnishes and encourage hosts to keep fresh fruit slices, berries, lemon peels or edible flowers around to top off any individual cocktail of punch bowl.


Having two or three stiff drinks might make for sloppy guests, so plan to have snacks available. Try pairing cocktails with interesting appetizers. For the DIYers, why not try your hand at making your own pate using duck and chicken livers available at local farmers markets? Shop the international aisle for cured meats such as Spanish ham or chorizo that pair well with boozy drinks.

Set cheese, crackers, nuts or honeycombs out on leftover stone or marble from kitchen remodeling projects. Or keep things fuss-free and casual by laying out butcher or block paper on a table, arranging your meats and cheeses and labeling each treat with a marker. Find jars for pickled okra and cute bowls and plates for olives and bruschetta. Use what’s available at home to add a cozy feel to slightly upscale snacks.


The devil’s in the details—print out and frame copies of each recipe to keep alongside the cocktails, or write down the recipes on small chalkboards, giving the bar an interactive feel without having to hover over your guests throughout the party.

Depending on your budget, hostess gifts can help cement a booze-filled party in your guests’ memories once bellies are filled and thirsts quenched. Try a parting gift of bitters, cocktail spoons, muddlers or handwritten or screened-printed recipe cards on card stock or fun stationary.

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