(BPT) - Raise your glasses high - cocktail parties are the toast of this summer's entertaining. Don't know where to start? Think barware, which is nearly as hot as the rising temperatures. That's why we turned to designer Julie Robbins from Replacements, Ltd., the world's largest retailer of vintage and current dinnerware, for fabulously fun ideas sure to make your soiree one of your favorite summer memories.
Why are cocktail parties so popular for summer 2017?
These gatherings are both fun and easy to put together - you're not trying to seat everyone at the same table so you can make use of more of your home, whether that's an apartment, condo or house. Cocktail parties are all about conversation, networking and introducing one group of friends to another, so people are always moving around. This type of entertaining is perfect for both small and large spaces alike; you can use your kitchen, family room or head outside to a patio, deck or even your yard.
What's the best time for the perfect cocktail party?
Any time! Cocktail parties are usually the warm-up or wind-down for the evening, and timing often depends on your reasons for celebrating. For instance, if you're holding your party as a kick-off to some event, say an evening out or concert under the stars, you may want to serve drier drinks and savory, spicier foods. If it's a post-event gathering, consider a late night with sweets, such as liqueurs and dessert-type finger foods.
What about barware? What's hot this summer?
I think three barware types will be extremely popular this season: the coupe, the old fashioned and a tall drink glass, such as a tumbler or highball.
Why the coupe?
There's a movement toward more elegant cocktails, and people want to serve those beverages in something equally elegant. That's why coupes (often referred to as champagne-sherbet glasses) are really stepping into the fore. Coupes offer a more refined shape that looks great in the hand. Vintage coupes from classic American glassmakers such as Tiffin, Fostoria and Heisey are big with our customers, with unique pieces in pretty much every price range. Not only are vintage coupes a great conversation starter, these glasses are highly collectible. You can also use them for desserts.
The old fashioned?
Old fashioned or even double old fashioned glasses are used for serving spirits straight up or on the rocks. They're also great for mixed cocktails, such as old fashioneds (the glass is named after this whiskey-based drink, which muddies bitters and sugars with a citrus twist), whiskey sours or even Bloody Marys. What's neat is that you'll find them in varying shapes. For example, Waterford has great old fashioned patterns, from something very simple and squared like their 'Vintage' collection to more elegant, cut patterns such as 'Powerscourt,' which is sparkly and almost tulip shaped. You'll also find very rounded, roly-poly shapes made popular on the television show Mad Men.
How about the highball?
Highballs are perfect for serving taller, refreshing drinks such as Long Island iced teas or a Tom Collins. You may see highball glasses referred to as tumblers in vintage patterns. Most of the Depression glass patterns have unique shapes such as footed tumblers, which can really step up your game.
Bar carts seem to be everywhere. Is that another trend for summer entertaining?
Bar carts are great! We're coming out of a phase where people kept their liquor put away; these days they want to show it off. A well-stocked bar cart is the perfect accessory for any size living space. And many companies even seem to want a beautiful, shiny and organized bar cart for the office. Bar carts are a great way to help keep your entertaining organized and not all spread out. And you can set those up for any style or taste. For example, you might want to put your alcohol on one shelf and your barware on another, or you can mix it up. Plus you can move your cart around as needed, so you're not stuck in the same place with your guests glued to a bar.
How about food?
Pre-portioned foods are fantastic for cocktail parties and a great way to serve something pricier without having to break the bank. One fun idea - think about using barware you may not need at that particular party, such as glass punch cups, to make individual shrimp cocktail servings. This saves you from having a huge bowl of shrimp where that one person (you know the one) will stand and eat all night and keeps your guests moving - they can grab a serving and go. Two- and three-tiered servers are fabulous for cocktail parties. These servers have a very small footprint since they're stacked, meaning you can tier different hors d'oeuvres on each layer and serve your guests without taking up a huge chunk of your table. Replacements can actually handcraft these pieces in the pattern of your choice.
Any final tips?
Limit your party to one or two signature cocktails. This keeps you from having to stock ten kinds of liquor and you can mix drinks in batches, meaning you can spend more time enjoying your party rather than bartending.