Cocktail parties

Don't end up with a nasty green concoction that nobody will drink - here's how to make your cocktail party a classy one.


Don't forget the little umbrellas

Hosting a cocktail party

The best cocktail parties have some planning behind them. A popular theme is the James Bond party, where you all dress up and attempt to look as swanky as possible whilst sipping your dry martinis, shaken, not stirred. Another good one is the indoor beach party: swimsuits, Hawaiian shirts, baggy shorts, sunglasses, and alcoholic monstrosities containing whole pineapples and cocktail umbrellas.

Because most cocktails need several ingredients, you can end up bankrupting yourself just stocking up the home bar. There are two easy ways around this:

  • Bring a bottle: Buy a simple cocktail book. Make your party invitation only, and get guests to bring a specific bottle of liqueur or spirit with them to get into the party. This way you’ll have a fully-stocked bar, and will only have to shell out for the mixers (soft drinks and fruit juice) and ice. Then let people loose with the recipe book, or have a couple of designated ‘bar staff’. If possible, buy or borrow a cocktail shaker and a spirit measure. If you’re stuck, use an eggcup as a measure. Or:
  • Keep it simple: Pick only one or two cocktails that are based on the same spirit, such as vodka or rum. Then buy the ingredients in bulk, mix them just before the party, and serve them up in pitchers or a well-scrubbed pan or bucket. Home measures tend to be much more alcoholic than bar measures, so add plenty of mixers to the drinks. Avoid tricky procedures like making crushed ice in a food processor if you’re very drunk.

Simple cocktail recipes



  • 2 parts vodka
  • 1 part triple sec or cointreau
  • 1 part lime juice
  • 2 parts cranberry juice


Pour the vodka, triple sec or cointreau, lime and cranberry juice into a shaker and give it a good shake (making sure that it doesn’t go everywhere). Empty the contents of the shaker into a fancy glass, garnish with a bit of lime, and bottoms up.

Sex on the beach


  • 2 parts vodka
  • 1 part peach schnapps
  • 2 parts orange juice
  • 2 parts cranberry juice


Layer the vodka and schnapps into a tall glass and finish off with equal measures of cranberry and orange juice. Give it a quick stir and enjoy.

Pina Colada


  • 1 part white rum
  • 1 part coconut cream
  • 3 parts pineapple juice
  • Crushed ice


Put all of the rum, coconut cream, and pineapple juice into a blender and add two cups of crushed ice. Mix up the ingredients in the blender until you’ve got a nice smooth consistency. Place in a tall glass and serve with a straw and a little umbrella (essential).

Photo of cocktails by Shutterstock

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Updated on 29-Sep-2015