COCKTAIL PARTY MENU IDEAS
A successful COCKTAIL party menu is one that doesn't require utensils or plates in order to consume food. Light, one-bite, clean, tasty and sophisticated is the ideal goal of COCKTAIL food. Balance the traditional items with modern takes on party food and serving, and offer a large variety, as everyone prefers a different snack while drinking. Just make sure to provide plenty of napkins.
MEAT AND CHEESE
A meat and cheese platter is the most common and expected item at a COCKTAIL party. As COCKTAIL party menus usually serve snacks rather than main courses, the meat and cheese platter is a savior for those who didn't get a chance to grab dinner before the party. Protein and carbohydrates go a long way at stifling hunger and counterbalancing alcohol. To avoid the unappetizing cliché of a store-bought rolled ham and cheddar tray, construct your own out of high-quality meats and cheeses including dried salami, sausages, sliced turkey, roast beef and prosciutto, slices of provolone, Gruyere, sharp Parmesan, Swiss, goat, brie and quality cheddar. Arrange the meat together on a platter and the cheese together on another. Place a hearty basket or tray in between the meat and cheese trays full of assorted breads, crackers and spreads such as bowls of honey, hummus and Dijon mustard.
Spoons are chic appetizers used to get around the serving trouble of hot soft foods that cannot be held on their own. Any type of spoon can be used, though spoons with a curved handle and wide head work best. Fill each spoon with any variety of one-bite items such as polenta, marinated tofu, shrimp or scallops in sauce, creamy mashed potatoes, lentil salad, couscous, ceviche, creamed cauliflower, crab salad and virtually anything that can be whipped, made into a mousse and piled on a spoon. Guests each take individual spoons off of the tray for a one-bite no-mess amuse bouche. Place an empty bowl next to the tray of full spoons as a used spoon collection vessel.
Canapes are another traditional COCKTAIL party food as they are easy to eat, can be made in a variety of ways and offer an air of sophistication. A canape is any small "layering" of ingredients on top of a piece of bread, cracker or pancake similar to a bite sized open-faced sandwich. Canapes generally start with a spread of butter, cream cheese or any whipped spread that the toppings can "stick" to. After the spread, a variety of meats, raw fish, cheeses, small vegetables such as sprouts and cherry tomatoes, nuts, capers and olives can be layered on top. Classic canapes include smoked salmon, capers and cream cheese and the caprese canape of tomato, basil and mozzarella. Canape bases can be small square or round toasts, rustic breads, crackers or even mini pancakes or blinis.
Along with the prepared food, a COCKTAIL party menu should include common drinking snacks. Provide bowls of mixed nuts, pretzels, small crackers such as bagel chips, classic party snack mixes, flavored popcorn and even dried soybeans.
COCKTAIL party desserts should include brownie bites, classic cookies, spoons (explained above) featuring chocolate or fruity mousses, cupcakes, marshmallows, petit fours and bowls of hard chocolate covered fruits, nuts and pretzels, as they are easy to hold and do not leave a mess.