Cocktail Party Planning - Drinks for Guests

Throwing a successful cocktail party requires some savvy party planning. It wouldn't be called a cocktail party if the drinks weren't an important aspect. Choosing the right alcohols, preparing a few pitchers of spiked punch, prepping glasses and garnishes and memorizing a few cocktail recipes will help your party live up to its name. 

Not only do you need to have plenty of different liquors, don't forget to stock up on different glasses and foods for garnishes. Compare what you have at home with this basic cocktail making kit to see if you've already got what it takes to throw a cocktail party, or if you need to take a trip to the liquor store.

Basic Cocktail Kit

  • Vodka, gin, rum and tequila are great for mixing with fruit juices to make sweet, colorful drinks or with sprite and soda water for those who love the flavor of alcohol but don't want to drink it straight. If you want to make martinis, don't forget the dry vermouth to pair with the vodka or gin.
  • Bourbon, whiskey and scotch are commonly drank neat (no ice) or on the rocks (with ice). Ginger ale, water, soda water or coke are sometimes mixed with these. If you know you're inviting lovers of scotch and bourbon, make sure you have at least one bottle aged 12 years or more, since many connoisseurs will wrinkle their noses at anything less.
  • A couple of after dinner liqueurs like amaretto (almond flavored), frangelica (hazelnut flavored), cognac or brandy are good for sipping with dessert. Amaretto and frangelico are also great if mixed with vodka and/or half-and-half.
  • Mixers should include cranberry, orange and pineapple juice, as well as sprite, ginger ale, soda water and coke. Don't forget sweet-and-sour, sweetened lime juice and triple sec for margaritas and long island iced teas.
  • Absinthe or another notorious alcohol can be a great conversation piece. 
  • Glasses: Martini, rocks glasses (short glasses for serving straight alcohol on ice or those served with a splash of juice or soda), shot glasses, highballs for long island iced teas and other mixed drinks, snifter glasses for liqueurs served straight.
  • Garnishes: Olives (stuff with fresh garlic and/or blue cheese) to serve with martinis; limes and lemons for drinks mixed with sprite and soda water; orange slices and maraschino cherries for amaretto or whiskey sours; and anything else small that you can skewer on a toothpick or float in a glass like berries, mint leaves or chocolate shavings. Don't forget sugar and salt for coating the rim of some of your glasses.

Cocktail List

  • Long Island Iced Tea: Equal parts of vodka, gin, rum, tequila (optional), triple sec. 1 1/2 parts sweet and sour and top with a splash of coke. Better if prepared in pitchers beforehand, since they're time consuming (don't add the coke to the pitcher).
  • Fruity Punch: For those who don't like to drink or don't know what they like to drink, mix equal parts of vodka, gin, rum, cranberry, pineapple and 7-up. Experiment using different fruit juices if you'd like. Prepare in pitchers beforehand.
  • Screaming Orgasm (there are many different versions): Equal parts vodka, baileys and frangelica, amaretto or gran marnier and half-and-half.