'Tis the season for entertaining!" Whether you go with cocktails, wine, beer, or all three, these savory appetizers and cocktail recipes will curb hunger and delight your guests. A great holiday cocktail party has a festive buzz — not just from the cocktails! Sparkling candles, seasonal music, and a bountiful display of bites and treats add to the ambiance of a fabulous party. Here are some tips for hosting a festive holiday cocktail party.

Food

If you're holding a cocktail party outside of typical meal hours, five or six types of hors d'oeuvres will be sufficient. Plan on each guest eating one or two of each kind.

If your cocktail party takes place during meal hours, your guests will be hungry and there should be enough food to constitute a meal. Prepare eight to ten types of hors d'oeuvres and plan on each guest eating two to three of each.

Drinks

Each guest will drink an average of two drinks the first hour and one drink each hour thereafter.

• A one-liter bottle of alcohol yields approximately 22 mixed drinks, so if you know how many guests are attending and what kind of bar you're going to have, you can easily figure out how much alcohol to purchase.

• To accommodate any non-cocktail drinkers, estimate one bottle of wine per eight guests, remembering that white wine tends to be more popular than red.

• One 750ml bottle of Champagne fills six regular Champagne glasses.  If you plan to have a Champagne toast, you will need to purchase additional bottles—you only need to pour about a third of a glass for a toast, so plan on one bottle of bubbly for every ten guests.

• Garnishes are inexpensive, so it's always smart to buy extras. Plan on  1/2 lemon and 1/2 lime and two each of olives, cherries, and onions per guest. This means that if you have 24 guests, you'll need at least 12 lemons and 12 limes plus 48 each of olives, cherries, and onions.

• Plan on one and a half pounds of ice per person. This will provide enough ice for drinks as well as any ice baths for wine or beer.

While you can wait a bit to serve the food, you should have the drinks ready when the first guests walk through the door—it gives people something to do and gets them mingling.

Special Holiday Cocktails

The Neapolitan

Ingredients:

  • 1 ounce strawberry liqueur
  • 1/2 ounce white-chocolate liqueur
  • 1/2 ounce creme de cacao
  • 2 ounces heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon chocolate syrup

Pour the strawberry liqueur into the bottom of a martini glass. Shake the bottle of white-chocolate liqueur; measure 1/2 ounce and pour it over the back of a spoon on top of the strawberry liqueur to make a separate layer.

Shake the creme de cacao, heavy cream and chocolate syrup in a cocktail shaker with ice until frothy. Slowly strain into the glass over the back of a spoon to make another layer.

Strawberry Daiquiris

You can keep a batch of this easy beverage recipe in the freezer and be ready for company any time of the year.

Yield: 32 servings

Ingredients:

  • 5 cups fresh or frozen strawberries
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 6 oz. can frozen lemonade concentrate
  • 6 oz. can frozen limeade concentrate
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1-1/2 cups rum
  • pinch salt
  • 5 cups ginger ale or 7 Up
  • Strawberries for garnish

Combine all ingredients except ginger ale or 7-Up in a blender or food processor and blend well, then freeze in freezer containers.

Adjust the amount of powdered sugar you use depending on how sweet the strawberries are and to your taste.

When ready to serve, fill glass 2/3 full of frozen mixture and top with ginger ale or 7-Up.

Negroni

Makes 1 Drink

Ingredients:

  • Ice
  • 1 ounce gin
  • 1 ounce Campari
  • 1 ounce sweet vermouth
  • 1 orange twist, for garnish 

Fill a pint glass with ice. Add the gin, Campari and vermouth and stir well. Strain into a chilled serving glass and garnish with the orange slice.

 

Prosecco Italian Cocktail

Serves: 2 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup chilled Prosecco or other Italian sparkling white wine
  • 2 tablespoons chilled vodka
  • 1/3 cup frozen lemon sorbet
  • Sprigs of fresh mint leaves

Pour the Prosecco and vodka into 2 Champagne flutes, dividing equally. Spoon a scoop of sorbet into each flute. Add a sprig of mint to each glass and serve immediately.

 

 

Limoncello Cocktail

8 servings (serving size: about 1/2 cup)

Ingredients:

  • 8 (3 x 1/2-inch) lemon rind strips
  • 8 tablespoons Limoncello (lemon-flavored liqueur)
  • 4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 (750-milliliter) bottle brut Champagne, chilled

Roll up each strip of lemon rind; place 1 into each of 8 Champagne flutes.

Add 1 tablespoon liqueur and 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice to each glass.

Divide Champagne evenly among glasses. Serve immediately.

Easy Cocktail Party Nibbles

Platter of Smoked Salmon with Sliced Bread and Philadelphia Cream Cheese Spread with Chives and Onion

Spiced nuts

Variety of Marinated Olives and Stuffed Peppers

Sliced Cheese and Cracker Tray

Shrimp Platter with Spicy Cocktail Dip

Skewer a small ball of mozzarella, a grape tomato and a bit of basil leaf. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and drizzle with oil.

Small pieces of melon and figs wrapped with thinly sliced prosciutto.

Chucks of Salami and Provolone Cheese

Toasted Pita Chips and your favorite Hummus

Platter of Cookies, Brownies and Chocolates

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