I love hosting parties. For me it is about as close to magic as it gets – bringing together seemingly random elements into a cohesive whole. Like painting on a canvas, or crafting a masterpiece… all it takes is a little flour, a dash of salt….and a slew of cocktails!
I’ve been slowly making my way through the seasons – from the Summer Cocktail Party last January to the Autumn variation that soon followed. After a long pregnancy-related hiatus, last night Winter dawned and brought with it the icy chill of clinking glasses, the flickering of flaming candlelight and the smoky crunch of woodfired pizzas.
The lead up to the party is intoxicating. My thoughts wander back and forth between recipe ideas, decorations, music themes and shopping trips. I set myself the challenge of trying to pull off the evening as thriftily as possible, while still serving lavish amounts of food. Since having the pizza oven we hardly throw a party without it – the toppings and creations are seemingly endless in variation, and very easy to pre-prepare. We had Roast Beetroot, Caramelised Onion and Goat’s Cheese; Turkey, Brie and Cranberry; Hot Salami and Roasted Peppers, an Antipasto-inspired one and others. It was Spanish week in our household, so Empanadas made it onto the menu (a smoky chorizo, beef and potato pastry). There were four types of cheese, pistachios, dark chocolate, mounds of strawberries. I didn’t even end up cooking the Spinach and Ricotta pastries and completely forgot about the Apple & Jelly Cake.
As for the cocktails, we sampled Cinnamon Pear Mimosas, Buttermilk Maple Gin Flip, Irish Mint and a Bacardi Dark Chocolate and Espresso cocktail. There was plenty of Jamie’s Mulled Wine as well which I slightly tweaked by using port wine for the syrup and adding a touch of brandy. The best part about the night is that the drinks menu is up to the guests, with the choice to bring a spirit and mixer and create something on the night, or come prepared with a cocktail offering to share. With the price of cocktails so exorbitant at any venue, I find this is such a great way to try a range of interesting concoctions that I may never have stumbled across otherwise.
One of my favourite parts of the night is watching the kids bloom with anticipation. We let Eli stay up and join in (with the table tennis and the mocktails at least!) and he dressed up to the nines and performed the role of waiter. When a guest arrived he would greet them at the door, bow deeply and welcome them to the Cocktail Lounge. He was very conscientious with offering snacks to the adults, and only one cocktail glass got broken so I guess that is a win! He told me very seriously that he may not like alcohol when he is an adult but he will definitely throw Mocktail Parties anyway.
I don’t know if you ever feel this way, but hosting a party can be hard too. I know that life gets in the way sometimes and people can’t make it at the last minute, but sometimes it is hard to distance myself in the equation. Logically, I completely understand when sickness hits and when emergencies crop up, but it is the drop outs for no reason that are difficult to process. I had a bit of a teary moment leading up to the party, I think because hosting an event is putting yourself out there to be rejected and while I know people are very unlikely to think ‘I don’t like Emma so I’m not going to come’, emotions can be complicated and cloud your better judgement sometimes. Thankfully the moment passed relatively quickly and I was still able to enjoy the evening and have fun and meaningful moments with the many people who did come.
One regret is that I got so swept up in the festivities that I completely forgot to take any photos when people were actually there. Ah well, the memories remain and the planning is already brewing for a Spring Fling theme. Let me know if you want to come!