How to Host a Cocktail Party

standard April 28, 2015 Leave a response

How to Host a Cocktail Party

If you’re like me you may have a little experience in making cocktails and even establishing a home bar. But whether or not you’ve had friends over to officially christen your creation, it may be time to take it to the next level with an official cocktail party.

After hosting a few parties I’m still not an expert, but in this post I’m going to share with you some tips on how to host a cocktail party.

Keep Cocktail Party Planning SimpleCocktail Party Planning

Assembling a group of friends and adding alcohol certainly falls within the definition of a party, but I’ve found that some cocktail party planning can make a big difference. Sure, a spontaneous bash can be a lot of fun, but a little preparation can turn an ordinary event into a memorable occasion.

Planning a party can be overwhelming, but I keep it simple by starting with the basics and then working from there. My first thoughts are:


A great cocktail party can be either simple or complex, so it’s important to think through how much work you can handle. A simple event could include a small gathering for drinks before going out to dinner, while a Madmen-themed cocktail party might involve an invited guest list, appetizers and a full bar of craft cocktails.

Ultimately defining the amount of complexity you want in an event makes cocktail party planning much easier.

Liquor MenuMenu

The cocktail party menu is the backbone of any shindig, so it’s important to suss that out from the start. Including spirits and food, party menus help me stay focused on just the things I need to do and eliminate any last minute chaos. They don’t need to be formal, but a little thought can go a long way.

Party cocktails are my first consideration. In addition to beer and wine, I like to pick 3 mixed drinks to serve my guests; this prevents my entire bar from getting siphoned off while still offering some variety. In addition, I have all the makin’s for non alcoholic cocktails for the teetotalling set. So far my approach has worked flawlessly…

Easy party appetizers are my next thought. After all I don’t want my guests to get totally bombed and curse me the next morning! A mix of prepared snacks and homemade items works really well. So I always have mixed nuts, cheeses and chips as well as light appetizers that can be prepared at a moment’s notice. And in a pinch you can always order a pizza and cut it into bite-size pieces (which I’ve done once).


At the end of the day you’ll need to foot the bill for your shindig, so any cocktail party planning should also include a budget. After all, unless you’re made of money these gigs can get pricey. I’ve found that hosting a cocktail party with several friends is a great way to share the expense and introduce new people to each other.

Party Preparation Nuts & Bolts

Once you’ve established a basic cocktail party plan, it’s time to get down to the nuts and bolts of preparation. Frankly I found that during my first couple of parties I was all over the place and ultimately overlooked a few things that are really important. So avoid my blunders by taking these tips:

Get Your Party Supplies Early

There’s nothing worse than running around last minute, so get your cocktail party supplies early. Assembling non-perishable party snacks like chips, pretzels and even frozen appetizers well in advance can take a lot of pressure off of you. And if you’re cocktail menu is established, stock up on the necessary booze too.

Cocktail Party MusicEntertainment for the Party

No matter if you’re hosting a casual get-together or a full on soiree, you need to think about entertainment. Good music is the glue that holds a cocktail party together so give some thought to the theme (if any) and what your guests will enjoy.

Cocktail party games are another consideration. Now, I’m not talking about drinking games because quaffing quantities of liquor is a recipe for disaster… But creating an entertaining way to help your guests mingle and get to know each other is always a hit.

Whatever Happens, Have Fun

With all the planning and running around it’s easy to forget why your hosting a cocktail party, but it’s to have fun. Frankly it wasn’t until after my first party that realized that I had been so preoccupied with tending bar and serving appetizers that I forgot to enjoy it. Don’t let this happen to you! Relax, enjoy being with friends and enjoy yourself.

More Cocktail Party Tips

After some thought I’ve asked a few of my friends about some of the best cocktail parties they’ve attended and they came up with some great ideas that I’ve never even considered. Here are a few that I’ve picked out that I plan on using in the future:

  • Cocktail Instructions

    Cocktail Bar Instructions

    Post Cocktail Party Recipes to Show Guests How to Make the Evening’s Cocktails.


  • Cocktail Party Games

    Cocktail Party Games

    One Easy Cocktail Party Game is Who Am I?  Each Guest Is Assigned a Celebrity to Mimic and Must Give Other Guests Clues Using Accent, Behavior or Speech. Each Guest’s Identity is Revealed at the End of the Evening.


Hosting a cocktail party is a lot of fun; it doesn’t need to be a lot of work or expensive. In my limited experience, I’ve found that these tips have helped me host some great parties without going crazy in the process. Hopefully these tips have offered some insight into how to host a cocktail party.


A coffee junkie and beer refugee, Joe enjoys cooking and an occasional mixed drink. When not walking his dog Verner, you can find him spending time with his wife Maggie and his daughter Earl.