Spring cocktail parties

The latest way out of “squaresville” these days is to throw a hip bash for all your friends.

The trendiest of these bashes is inspired by one of the most popular drinks of the day: the cocktail.

Cocktail parties have been rising in popularity in a variety of settings, from chic New York lofts to plainer suburban pads.

Many housewives and aspiring hostesses have been wondering lately what the keys to throwing a successful cocktail party are.

The Vanguard is here to provide you with those answers.

Any hostess should know that a good cocktail party begins with a good cocktail. The most popular drink at this time is quite noticeably the martini.

There is much debate amidst martini connoisseurs about the exact proportions of ingredients and the method of preparation.

Some prefer a fair amount of vermouth mixed with the gin, while others prefer just a hint.

There is even a divide between those who enjoy the beverage stirred, and those who desire it shaken in order to mix the ingredients together.

One should be familiar with the various forms of martinis so as to be able to better cater to guests.

Keep in mind that it is usually the host who manages the arcane and manly task of drink making. The hostess should only worry herself about the hors d’oeuvres and tending to the guests.

Most cocktail parties do not include an actual meal, but any alcoholic drinks should be accompanied by something to nibble on.

It is important, however, for the hostess to remember that her guests will be standing for most of the evening. Therefore, they must be able to balance their drink, their food, and often a cigarette.

With this in mind, it would not be wise to prepare any food that requires a plate. The best hors d’oeuvres for these sorts of cocktail parties are foods that can be eaten from a toothpick.

Such possibilities include cocktail weenies, bite-sized meatballs, prosciuto-wrapped melon slices and any variety of canapes.

There is also a new trend in party foods. Dips, such as clam or herb, are rapidly growing in popularity.

A close cousin of the dip is the cheese ball. The exact seasonings of a cheese ball are left to taste, although two key ingredients are “Nippy” process cheese spreads mixed with cream cheese. It is best to serve the cheese ball with crisp crackers.

It is also important to keep in mind the number of guests in attendance when preparing food.

It is wise to concentrate on preparing an ample supply of a few varieties. One of the most common faults of a cocktail party is that there is no food left for any hungry latecomers.

When there is less variety for people to choose from, they tend not to eat as much.

If the hostess so chooses, she may arrange the various snacks around a centerpiece. A decorative centerpiece can add simple festivity to any gathering.

For a springtime centerpiece, “Better Homes and Gardens” recommends integrating fresh fruit such as lemons and oranges with spring flowers into your arrangement.

Some of the most seasonal flowers include tulips, daffodils and daisies.

Finally, there are a few key things to remember for a successful cocktail party.

Firstly, the room should never be crowded with too many guests. There should be plenty of space for guests to move about, without the risk of spilling their beverage.

Keep in mind how much available space there will be where you are holding the party when deciding how many people to invite.

Also, the hostess should keep extra food stashed away, in case the guests are particularly ravenous. For this, it is perfectly acceptable to serve pre-prepared frozen hors d’oeuvres. However, these should only be used in the event that guests consume all of the homemade snacks.

The host should have extra glasses and plenty of ice handy at the bar for preparing drinks. A book of drink recipes, such as “Mr. Boston’s Official Bartender’s Guide,” can also be helpful.

He should also remember never to ply his guests beyond reason. It is a nice idea to keep nonalcoholic drinks on hand, such as juice and pop, for those guests who do not wish to consume alcoholic beverages.

Finally, remember to plan ahead for the ultimate, successful cocktail party. Allow plenty of time to prepare and send invitations, receive RSVPs, and buy and prepare food.

If a party has not been well planned, the hostess, herself, will not be able to enjoy all her hard work. And remember, a springtime cocktail party can be the ultimate in hip fun.