7 Ways to Ruin a Cocktail Party

by Jordan Catapano

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Nervous about throwing a cocktail party? Now you don't have to be!

As the author of This Girl Walks Into a Bar, I've detected several party pitfalls that are sure to wreck your event. So take note, steer clear, and learn from someone else's trial and error.

Here are seven major "don'ts" for any cocktail party hostess. 

Chilling the wine in the tub

No matter how little refrigerator space you have, do not, I repeat do not use the tub. People lose their minds over a lipstick smudge on a wine glass - just imagine presenting a bottle of Chardonnay with a soap-scum ring. Invest in a few large plastic tubs and make those your back-up coolers. Now, if the party is actually located in the bathtub, I can only suggest you serve from plastic wine bottles.

Make the most complicated drink ever created

If you're the type of person who gets everything perfect on the first try, then go right ahead and choose a drink that requires fire, nuclear gastronomy, or 27 steps. I dare you. Just make sure you have a fire extinguisher in the house, or wine available for your guests until you finish showing off. But if you've never made a drink before, pick a cocktail with simple ingredients and only a couple steps. Your hostess skills will be just as impressive.

Encourage your guests to mix their liquor

As long as you've protected every seat and tabletop with anachronistic toxic vinyl covers, you won't mind when your friends turn green, clutch their stomachs, and lose their…er…lunch. But if you'd like to spare yourself from cleaning up more than the highballs, don't let your guests switch from vodka to bourbon to tequila. Commit to one kind of spirit and own that cocktail.

Trust your ice machine

Maybe the ice machine in your $3,000 state-of-the-art refrigerator (with the same square-footage  as some people's sheds) has never once let you down. Yet. But the minute that thing jams or over-heats and stops, the party is Oh-vah. Go get yourself a back-up bag of ice and hopefully that same bag will serve as back-up for the next party too.

Serve cocktails in red cups

If you decide to use red plastic cups at your cocktail party, you are sending your guests the following messages:

  • My glassware is for the respectable company

 

  • This party has a trailer park theme, I just forgot to tell you

 

  • My social life peeked in college

 

  • All of the above

 

If plastic is absolutely necessary, choose clear. And start saving those empty pickle, cherry, and jam jars for your next soiree. They make great glasses and excellent conversation pieces.

Use your sink as an ice bucket

Yes, it's convenient, easy to access, and self-draining. But organisms that do not belong in your cocktail have inevitably colonized in your kitchen sink. Place a bowl or colander in the sink, or on the counter with a towel to collect the condensation. 

Neglect to take people's keys

It's your party and also your responsibility to make sure you don't over-serve or let anyone get behind the wheel intoxicated. Call cabs, hold your friends hostage, or pump up the blow-up mattresses until your guests can safely make it home.

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