The Perfect Cocktail Party

Posted by Lauren Dashwood

I had a picture in my mind of what the perfect Birthday slash Cocktail party would look like. Small bud vases with little flowers scattered around the house, mulling lulls of French Jazz streaming out, soothing the scene, friends and family in finery with a glass of sparkling wine or sangria cradled in one hand, deep in sophisticated conversation. And, of course, the appropriate bite sized appetizers. Succulent crab cakes, Thai lettuce wraps, spinach dip on sourdough toasts, melon swaddled in Proscuitto, mushroom tartlets, lemon curd cakes and dark chocolate brownies. To name but a few.

It may have seemed a tad unrealistic, and a touch difficult to put together for ones own birthday party, but then again quick-fix and easy are not really part of my vocabulary. I gathered a group of friends on a lovely Long Weekend and set to work. We began to slightly pare down the menu. I didn't take into consideration the mugginess of having so many bodies in a smallish kitchen, neither was the hot and gorgeous weather outside anticipated. I also forgot how much else there is to do the morning of a party, especially when it is your party. Phone calls to field, shopping, cleaning, prepping et. al. We decided to focus on making large bowls of Sangria a red and a white, and making slightly fewer appetizers. Portobello and shitake mushroom tartlets, Prawn satays with silky peanut sauce, Tandoori chicken wings, Spinach dip, and smoked salmon and asparagus toasts.

We laid the food out, people oohed and ahhed, and then every one trouped outside to sit in the fading sunshine a glass of sangria in one hand, with a loaded plate in the other. While the end result was different from my cocktail party fantasy, it was perfect all the same. Instead of the French Jazz, there was Bruce Springsteen. Instead of solely sophisicated conversation, there was dancing and badminton. Instead of enough food to feed an army, we had the perfect amount. Try this wonderful, sunny Sangria, or these perfect Mushroom Tartlets for any occasion where it is imperative to please.